Current Projects

SSHRC (2016 - Present): Early Inattention Behaviours, Executive Functions, and Student Engagement: Testing Pathways in the Early Elementary Grades and the Moderating Influence of the Classroom Context

Children’s ability to control and regulate attention varies on a continuum within the population and is relevant for a host of key academic outcomes (Duncan et al., 2007). Teacher and parent-reported inattentive behaviors (IB) are associated with concurrent impairment in a range of domains including achievement (e.g., literacy and numeracy skills; Polderman, Boomsma, Bartels, Verhulst, & Huizink, 2010) and higher-order cognitive processes (i.e., executive functions; EF) in children (Tillman, Eninger, Forssman, & Bohlin, 2011). IB in the early years is also predictive of lower academic attainment in the future, even after taking into account prior academic ability and co-existing disruptive behaviors (Duncan et al., 2007). Despite evidence that IB in early elementary school is associated with subsequent difficulties, relatively little is known about the mechanisms that give rise to the association between early IB and academic underachievement. This is an important gap in the field to address as the educational services required to support achievement in the presence of IB incur a high cost for the public sector (Snell et al., 2013). 

 

Dr. Martinussen began a study in 2016, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), to address this gap. The project explores the way motivational factors (e.g., students’ sense of autonomy support in the classroom) intersect with attention and self-regulation to promote student engagement and academic achievement. This five year study uses a longitudinal sequential cohort design. Grade one students and their teachers are followed into second grade, with data collection at three time points (spring of grade one, fall and spring of grade two). We hope to learn more about the association between motivation and self-regulation (e.g., attention, executive functions such as working memory) and how various supports enable student engagement in the classroom. 

 

This grant is led by Dr. Rhonda Martinussen. Dr. André Plamondon and Dr. Frédéric Guay are co-investigators. Dr. Plamondon is an Associate Professor in the Département des fondements et pratiques en éducation at Laval University. Dr. Guay is a Professor at Laval University and is the Canada Research Chair on Motivation and Academic Success. You can visit Dr. Frédéric Guay’s website.

MOE (2017 - Present): Learning Disabilities Pilot

Dr. Martinussen is the Lead Researcher on a 3-year Research Contract with the Ontario Ministry of Education (beginning in January, 2017) to complete research related to the Learning Disabilities Pilot project. She has invited Dr. Todd Cunningham, Dr. Anne-Claude Bedard, Dr. Angela Pyle, and Dr. Judith Wiener to collaborate on this project given their areas of expertise. She is currently in the process of leading the team on the remaining elements of the project until November, 2020.

SSHRC Insight Grant (2018-2022): Literacy and Self-Regulation in Play-based Kindergarten Classrooms: A Comparison of Pedagogical Approaches

Dr. Martinussen is the Lead Researcher on a 3-year Research Contract with the Ontario Ministry of Education (beginning in January, 2017) to complete research related to the Learning Disabilities Pilot project. She has invited Dr. Todd Cunningham, Dr. Anne-Claude Bedard, Dr. Angela Pyle, and Dr. Judith Wiener to collaborate on this project given their areas of expertise. She is currently in the process of leading the team on the remaining elements of the project until November, 2020.

Past Research Projects

Dr. Martinussen and Dr. Dale Willows recently completed a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to support their early research examining the role of multimedia tools in teacher preparation in the area of literacy. They examined preservice teachers’ understanding of literacy terms and practices as well as the role of virtual classroom tours and interactive multimedia modules in the development of teacher candidates’ understanding of how to effectively teacher reading and writing to elementary school children. Dr. Dale Willows developed the idea of virtual tours in classrooms and they can be found on the Balanced Literacy Diet website. We have published one article related to teacher educator and student perspectives on the virtual tours.