The Centre for Urban Schooling (CUS) team has undertaken various research projects.

Recent Projects: Addressing Injustices

Teachers and Adolescents Coauthoring Social Justice-Oriented Literacy Curriculum (2015-2021)

Funded by an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (March 2015), this project involves 150 students and 100 teacher candidates over five years as partners in co-creating arts-based projects and social justice curriculum for five young adult novels that explore issues of ethnic, racial, religious or gender identity, cultural, and the function of power in society. 

Principal Investigator: Rob Simon (Centre for Urban Schooling)
Co-Investigator: Sarah Evis (Toronto District School Board)

  • Ty Walkland (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • Ben Gallagher (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • Douglas Friesen (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • Ashleigh Allen (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • Bishop Owis (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • Lindsay Cavanaugh (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • Jennifer Emelife (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)
  • benjamin lee hicks (2015-2019)
  • Kate Reid (2017-2019)
  • Pam Baer (2015-2018)
  • Velta Douglas (2015-2016)

Recent Projects: Gender. Sexuality. School.

A curated information hub for current news, conferences, books, and events of interest to local, provincial, national, and international LGBTQ communities. The site has been created and is maintained by Tara Goldstein, a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Tara is also the Founding and Artistic Director of Gailey Road Productions, a theatre company that currently produces research-based theatre on issues of gender, sexuality through an intersectional lens. The site contains a monthly blog, two podcasts, and a resource page compiled by hub team member Bishop Owis.

Past Projects

A Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded multi-year project whose goal is to video record interviews with LGBTQ families across Ontario about their children's experiences in school and to share findings with teachers, community educators and other LGBTQ families. 

Principal Investigator: Tara Goldstein (Centre for Urban Schooling)
Research Assistants:       

  • Austen Koecher (Research Manager 2017-2018, Research Assistant)
  • Pam Baer (Research Manager 2014-2017, Research Assistant, Artist Researcher)
  • benjamin lee hicks (Research Assistant, Artist Researcher)
  • Kate Reid (Research Assistant, Artist Researcher)
  • Jenny Salisbury (Artist Researcher)
  • Tarra Joshi (Research Assistant, 2014-2017)
  • Katerina Cook (Research Assistant 2016-2018)
  • Alec Butler (Research Assistant, 2016-2017)
  • Edil Ga’al (Research Assistant, 2018-2019)
  • Bishop Owis (Research Assistant, 2018-2020)
  • Ty Walkland (Research Assistant, 2018-2020)
  • Helgi Audarson Gudmundsson (Podcast Editor, 2018-2020)

A research exchange among doctoral students and faculty from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and the University of Pennsylvania who are interested in urban practitioner research.

The exchange began in 2012, initiated by Dr. Rob Simon at OISE and Gerald Campano, a leader in the field of critical practitioner research at the University of Pennsylvania.  It has involved video links, two visits to OISE by Dr. Campano, shared student research initiatives, and OISE presentations at Practitioner Research Day at the Ethnography in Education Research conference in Philadelphia in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Directors: Rob Simon (Centre for Urban Schooling), Gerald Campano (University of Pennsylvania)
Research Assistants: Will Edwards and Shiny Balachandran

A one year critical practitioner research project with Toronto District School Board (TDSB) that will provide TDSB teachers with an opportunity to conduct critical practitioner research projects on improving Black student achievement in their classrooms and schools.

Prinicpal Investigator: Tara Goldstein (Centre for Urban Schooling)
Co-Investigators: Rob Simon (Centre for Urban Schooling), Nicole West-Burns (Centre for Urban Schooling)
Collaborator: Karen Murray, Coordinator for Teacher's Learning and Leading Department, Toronto District School Board
Research Assistant: Austen Koecher (Curriculum, Teaching & Learning)

This project culminated in a website that included a documentary that chronicles a year-long professional learning journey with teams of educators from two schools; a report on the initiative; and professional resources.

The purpose of the Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices (CRTP) project is to identify innovative, culturally responsive, classroom teaching practices, across academic subject areas, that foster the engagement of students in secondary schools facing challenging circumstances. The four guiding questions of CRTP are:

  1. How do a select number of urban secondary teachers define Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT)?
  2. How do a select number of urban secondary teachers practice CRT?
  3.  How have a select number of urban secondary teachers developed CRT strategies?
  4. What barriers do urban secondary teachers face in CRT?

Through interviews with teachers in secondary schools serving underserved urban neighbourhoods in Toronto, we aim to identify and support the development of curricular content, instructional practices, and assessment and evaluation strategies that foster meaningful student involvement throughout the learning environment.

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant; Ontario Council of Directors of Education, Inquiry into Practice Project
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Lance T. McCready
Centre for Urban Schooling Researcher(s): Dr. Dominique Rivière (Project Coordinator), David Montemurro (Project Coordinator)
Centre for Urban Schooling Graduate Student(s): Krista Craven, Ashley Fallbrook
Research Theme: School Leadership and Institutional Change

Following the impact evaluation of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario's (ETFO) Poverty and Education Project (2007 – 2008), three case studies from 2008 – 2009 are examining the important question of sustainability, beyond the first year of the initiative. In particular, they are examining what participating schools learned, what the limiting factors were, and how school communities are impacted by poverty differently, based on their own contextual features.

Funding: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Kathleen Gallagher
Centre for Urban Schooling Graduate Student(s): Ivan Service
Research Theme: Anti-oppression Policies and Pedagogy

This is a collaborative inquiry project being conducted in two of the Toronto District School Board’s Model Schools for Inner Cities. Its purpose is to generate a critical understanding of the ways in which teachers, staff, students and parents in Model Schools understand issues of discipline and classroom management within two of the schools. The project is designed to engage the school community in a process of critical inquiry regarding the frequency of discipline incidents, the types of incidents that occur, the actions that are taken as a result of the incidents, and the implications of these for building healthy student-teacher relationships.

Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Lance McCready
Centre for Urban Schooling Researcher(s): Dr. Dominique Riviere, Luisa Sotomayor
Centre for Urban Schooling B.Ed. Student(s):  Matthew Gilbert
Research Theme: Student Engagement and Achievement

The Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat contracted the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, along with two urban school districts, to determine the factors that contribute to success in schools facing challenging circumstances. One school board used the Learning Opportunities Index in order to identify schools in these circumstances, while the other board studied schools which participated in a special school-community program that offered health care, dental, and other social services. The purpose of the Challenging Circumstances project was to add to the knowledge base regarding student success in such schools, with a particular emphasis on innovative leadership practices. 

Significant findings include: recognizing that students’ academic objectives could only be met once social and behavioural concerns were addressed; creating professional learning communities for teachers; and fostering supportive school/community partnerships. The findings of the Challenging Circumstances project have since been compiled into a research report that is now part of the Ministry of Education’s website for principal leadership.

Principal Investigator(s):  Dr. Doug McDougall, Dr. Eunice Jang, Dr. Joseph Flessa, and Jeff Kugler
Research Theme: Student Engagement and Achievement

Research Briefs

The Math for Young Children (M4YC) Project: A No Ceiling Approach to Math Learning in an Urban School

Issue #1, December 2013

By Dr. Bev Caswell, Joan Moss, PhD., Zack Hawes, and Sarah Naqvi

School Community Programs for Vulnerable Boys

Issue #2, April 2014

By Dr. Lance McCready, Dr. Carl James, Ramon San Vicente, Rachael Nicholls, Raymond Peart, and Olivia Strohschein

School Exploring Critical Consciousnes in Toronto's Urban Classrooms: A Critical Practioner Inquiry Approach to Understanding and Improving Black Student Achievement

Issue #3, 2014

By Tara Goldstein and Nicole West-Burns