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Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Studentsí Association
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Studentsí Association

Past CTLSA Conference Talks

March 31, 2016 (Thursday), 12.00-1.00 pm, Room 10-254

Majd Zouda, PhD student in CSTD, What Do You Know About Socioscientific Issues? Reflecting for Socio-Political Actions

Our world is highly affected by science and technology. Although their benefits are undeniable, their global problematic consequences for individuals, societies and environments are also evident. Citizens’ socio-political activism seems paramount to address these consequences. In order to assume such roles, citizens should perceive themselves as responsible and capable of participating in knowledge production and decision making. Schools are a main milieu to develop students’ (citizens’) agency to activism. This paper examines Venezuelan students’ commitment to socio-political activism, and their types of actions on socioscientific issues highly relevant to them. It particularly focuses on students’ developing agencies in-relation to systematic reflection-in and on-actions (Schön, 1983). We argue that these practices have improved students’ understanding of socioscientific issues and encouraged them to take strategic decisions regarding their actions; that is, two outcomes that seem to increase students’ commitment to activism. We discuss the significance of our findings for democratic and activist science education.        

Sarah El Halwany, PhD student in CSTD, A Multi-layered Actor Network Pedagogy: Teaching for Citizenship in the Context of Socio-Scientific Issues

Acknowledging gaps between science education and democratic participation on socio-scientific issues (SSI) (Levinson, 2010), scholars have been urging educators to engage their students in educational activities that extend beyond debating socio-scientific issues to acting on them (Santos, 2009). For students to act on SSI, a more democratic practice would be for teachers to shed light on various ‘actants’, both living and non-living, that sustain networks of SSI (Latour, 2005). With increasing social and ecological concerns (Klein, 2014), teaching about SSI may need to assist students in interrogating dichotomous and hierarchical views of science-society, nature-culture, object-subject allowing them to uncover complex networks that constitute socio-scientific issues (Pierce, 2015). This study was conducted in the context of a pre-service teacher course aimed at supporting pre-service teachers to prepare students/citizens to act on socio-scientific issues. First, we examine how the course instructor infused Actor Network Theory (ANT) (Latour, 2005) when teaching about socio-scientific issues to enable student-teachers to identify connections among human, non-human and semiotic ‘actants’ that influence decision-making on SSI. A multi-layered ANT pedagogy emerged as a result of a combination of “in the moment” and planned instructional decisions. We later explore the extent to which an ANT pedagogy influenced student-teachers’ critical thinking about SSI, as well as their views on the nature-culture divide. Our results reveal that while pre-service teachers may have been able to recognize various “hidden” actants on SSI as well as interactions between them, most of the participants nevertheless seem to maintain a monolithic view of science-society and perhaps nature-culture. We conclude by discussing some pedagogical affordances of using ANT for preparing a critical and active citizenry. 

January 21, 2016 (Thursday), 3.00-4.00 pm, Room 10-254

Philip Myszkal, MA Candidate in CSTD, Connecting Instruction and Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Beliefs in STEM Education

In this rapidly changing and technologically evolving world there is a need for skilled labour and professionals in STEM fields.  There is concern regarding the competitiveness of both Canada and the United States in the global economy, as the number of individuals graduating from and/or pursuing careers in STEM fields is seriously lagging in comparison to other countries.  Students must be inspired, engaged, and have deep understandings of STEM content and their applications if they are to consider future studies and/or jobs in STEM fields.  Integrative, inquiry-based STEM education has been considered an effective approach for encouraging students in science and math.  This type of STEM education focuses on elements such as hands on, collaborative problem solving; while foregoing more traditional ‘top-down’ instructional methods.  Elementary science and mathematics teachers are underprepared for these demands, which is subsequently reflected in their lack of comfort in implementing pedagogical approaches and teaching STEM content.  Teacher self-efficacy and beliefs about their abilities also impact what and how they teach.  This paper highlights data collected as part of a larger mixed-methods longitudinal study on the impact of outreach STEM workshops on teachers’ attitudes towards and interest in STEM education. Data sources included T-STEM surveys and interviews. Preliminary findings suggest that while grades 7 and 8 teachers possess confidence and heightened beliefs in their abilities to teach science and math, interactive hands-on learning only occurred ‘about half the time’ in their classrooms. Although participants agreed with the goals of STEM education, as well as expressed confidence in their ability to execute them, there is disconnect between beliefs and implementation in practice. This study has profound educational significance, especially areas related to teacher professional development, teacher education, and STEM partnerships in terms of providing opportunities for teachers to engage in initiatives focusing on best practices in STEM education.

December 2, 2015 (Wednesday), 6.00-7.00pm, Room 10-254

Dr. Robert S. E. Caine, PhD Alumnus OISE/UT, Teaching Compassion: On Behalf of the Animals

Are we born with an innate ability for showing compassion? Or is compassion something that needs to be taught? Also, can compassion be taught? Is everyone capable of showing compassion, whether towards other people and/or towards other species? 

Teaching Compassion: On Behalf of the Animals is a book designed to wake up society from its comatose state of denial regarding our exploitation and oppression of non-human animals.  Stemming from the marginalized field of Humane Education, a foundation for learning compassion is explored. The need for introducing Humane Education to children is discussed as a powerful form of transformative education – progressive erudition that acknowledges our current anthropocentric society and the vast systems that sustain massive cruelty towards our fellow earthlings. Dr. Robert Caine's work is grounded as a case of standpoint research whereby it examines the cognitive-emotional-political as well as the social-historical-bodily theoretical fundamentals for meaningful teaching and learning.

Robert Caine investigates the theories and concepts of bio-centricity, eco-feminism and the parallels of oppression against both humans and the other-than-human, and vegan ethics.  Additionally, Dr. Caine demonstrates how anti-speciesist wisdom can and should be integrated within essential curricula, particularly focussing on the areas of anti-violence education, futures education, and eco-spiritual environmentalism. Critical analysis for what needs to be implemented to attain a truly humane civilization rounds out the overall evaluation for developing and sustaining a more humane world-society.

October 27, 2015 (Tuesday), 5-5:30pm, Room 10-254

Max Anthony-Newman, PhD Candidate in CSTD, Parental Involvement of Immigrant Parents: A Meta-Synthesis

This presentation is based on the first systematic review of studies on parental involvement among immigrant parents. It highlights the effect of immigrant status on parental involvement and describes unique barriers to parental involvement typical of immigrant parents. As a key predictor of students' achievement, parental involvement has been in the center of attention of both educational researchers and policymakers, but parents and teachers view it from different perspectives. While educators value school-based activities (volunteering, attending parent-teacher conferences, serving on parent councils), parents often see their role mostly in the home environment (setting expectations, monitoring child’s progress, helping with homework, discussing schools). Arguably, no other group of parents experiences more misunderstanding regarding their role in students' learning than immigrant parents. Coming from various cultural and educational backgrounds they bring in distinctive sets of expectations, which often do not correspond to those of teachers. The meta-synthesis of 19 studies confirms that immigrant parents and non-immigrant teachers indeed have different conceptualization of parental involvement. When teachers expect parents to be pro-active and attend school events to activate White middle-class social and cultural capitals, immigrant parents, who in our sample come mostly from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, prefer to trust schools with their children’s education and show respect to teachers from a distance. Moreover, immigrant parents face unique challenges to their involvement due to language barriers and lack of familiarity with the educational system of a host country. 

July 31, 2015 (Friday), 2-2:30pm, Room 10-254

Angelica GalantePhD Candidate in LLE, Plurilingualism in Linguistically Diverse Language Classrooms: Respecting and Validating Students’ Identities

Linguistic diversity is inherent in the Canadian context as well as in other countries. In Canada only, over 200 languages are spoken as a home language or mother tongue (Statistics Canada, 2012). In many English language classrooms, international students and newcomers to Canada make up a rich linguistically diverse environment. Making use of the plurality of languages already existent in these classrooms helps learners draw on their own linguistic knowledge to learn other languages (Cummins, 2007). Yet, teachers may find it challenging to implement pedagogical practices that integrate learners’ languages and help them develop their English skills. Through plurilingual practices, learners’ linguistic repertoires are recognized, valued and used for the transfer of linguistic skills between or among languages, which aids in new language learning (García & Sylvan, 2011; Piccardo, 2013). In multilingual settings, teaching languages through a plurilingual perspective seems to be congruent to the contemporary diverse linguistic landscape. In this presentation, a brief introduction to plurilingualism from a theoretical viewpoint will be provided and participants will explore plurilingual pedagogical practices that can be used in any language classroom. A discussion in the end of the presentation will encourage participants to reflect on plurilingualism as a pedagogical approach in their educational contexts.

August 6, 2015 (Thursday), 2-2:30 pm, Room 10-254

Monica Shank, MA Candidate in LLE, Transformation in the Mainstream: Creative Possibilities for Integrating Waldorf into Kenyan Schools

This paper explores possibilities for integrating storytelling, arts, and imaginative play into pre-primary and early primary mainstream classrooms as essential components of emergent literacy development. Drawing from the presenter’s experiences of integrating Waldorf-inspired pedagogies into mainstream Kenyan schools, this paper demonstrates how Waldorf approaches can be used to support different curricular requirements. By focusing on the ‘essence’ of Waldorf education, this paper explores the adaptability of the Waldorf approach to different cultures, environments, and education systems. This paper also offers candid discussion of the many challenges of integrating Waldorf into mainstream schools, including school-parent misunderstandings, resource constraints, large class sizes, and standardized exams, and looks at imaginative responses, past, present and future, working to transform these challenges into creative possibilities. 

August 7, 2015 (Friday), 2-2:30 pm, Room 10-254

Ahmad Khanlari, PhD Candidate in CSTD, Using Robotics for STEM Education in Primary/Elementary Schools: Teachers' Perceptions

Robotics, with its multidisciplinay nature, integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and is considered a gateway to STEM education. This study aims to understand whether primary/elementary teachers perceive robotics as a useful tool for STEM education or not. If yes, in what capacity do they think robotics might be useful? A sample of 11 primary/elementary teachers participated in this study. The results of this study revealed that the participants perceive robotics to have the potential to facilitate learning of primary/elementary technology-related topics, while they do not perceive robotics to be a useful for teaching and learning mathematics. Robotics is also perceived by the participants to have the potential to persuade students to pursue careers and education in STEM-related disciplines. 

September 24 (Thursday), 2-2:30pm, Room 10-254

Chris Harwood, PhD Candidate in LLE, Teaching Presence in an Online EAP Book Club

In September 2014 an online book club activity hosted in Facebook Groups was introduced into the curriculum of a Canadian university undergraduate academic bridging course in order to encourage extensive reading amongst second language (L2) students. This paper discusses the EAP instructor’s perceptions of their participation and practice in the book club. Instructor online discourse, interviews and teaching documents are analyzed to understand the impact of instructor pedagogic choices on learner participation online.


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