Dr. Gary Pluim Wins Research Award from the Commonwealth of Learning

Dr. Gary Pluim (Assistant Professor, Orillia) has received an award from the Commonwealth of Learning for educational programming targeted toward global issues relating to youth. His work involves pedagogies that promote youth’s rights, political engagement, mental health, and action toward the climate crisis. This project builds on a SSHRC-funded research initiative titled “Educational Transfer Between Small States of the Commonwealth: A Vertical Case Study Analysis of the Professionalization of the field of Youth Work.” The study won a Partnership Engagement Grant in November 2019 and is scheduled to continue through 2021.

Gary describes the research as “a case study designed to capture the conditions that both permit and prevent educational transfer between small states”—countries with a population of approximately 1.5 million or less. The study follows the transfer of youth work curriculum between Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. He explains that youth work has emerged as a national priority in many countries, particularly in small states, many of which are located in regions where youth populations are proportionately higher than in those with larger populations.

Transferring promising educational practices between countries has been shown to be an effective means to address societal issues, as well as a way to attain educational goals and amass new knowledge about curriculum and pedagogy. Gary notes that recent advancements in online and distance learning during the pandemic have enabled increased access and accelerated opportunities for educational transfer.

However, the idea that curriculum can simply be transferred from one global context to another is also fraught with difficulties. As Gary describes, “cultural aspects such as history, language, political-economies, geographies and environments shape conditions for learning. The importance of place as a starting point in learning is well documented and entrenched in many educational traditions. Education transfer is also seen as a form of neo-colonization—post-colonial scholars point out the direct link between the imperial rule of the British and the ways that colonial relationships have endured through education transfer.” These issues are among the complexities that form the backdrop of this study and the context of this award.

This award was granted by the Commonwealth of Learning, an intergovernmental organization that promotes the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources, and technologies.

Drs. Wayne Melville and Don Kerr Co-Editors of New Book: Virtues as Integral to Science Education

Dr. Wayne Melville (Dean of Education) and Dr. Don Kerr (Chair, Undergraduate Studies in Education) have a new co-edited book out: Virtues as Integral to Science Education: Understanding the Intellectual, Moral and Civic Value of Science and Scientific Inquiry.

The publisher, Routledge (International Studies in the Philosophy of Education Series), notes that the book “challenges the increasing professionalization of science; questions the view of scientific knowledge as objective; and highlights the relationship between democracy and science. Exploring how virtues relate to citizenship, technology, and politics, the chapters in this work illustrate the ways in which virtues are integral to understanding the values and limitations of science, and its role in informing democratic engagement. The text also demonstrates how the guiding virtues of scientific inquiry can be communicated in the classroom to the benefit of both individuals and wider societies.”

Written by a range of international experts in science, the history of science, education and philosophy—including a chapter by Dr. Melville and Dr. Kerr—the newly published book will be of particular interest to scholars broadly interested in the terrain of ethics in science and teaching science, and in Philosophy of Education.

Dr. Tanya Kaefer and Co-Investigators Receive Grant for Research Addressing Achievement Gap in Reading Comprehension

Dr. Tanya Kaefer (Associate Professor, Thunder Bay) is a co-investigator on a research project that has been awarded a grant by the Inter-University Research Network.

The research project—entitled Vocabulary and Knowledge: Powerful Allies in Redressing the Achievement Gap in Reading Comprehension—focuses on increasing intentional vocabulary instruction as a means of closing academic achievement gaps for children in Nova Scotia who are from lower socio-economic status and/or minority linguistic backgrounds.

“Vocabulary knowledge predicts reading comprehension skills throughout schooling, as well as broader critical thinking skills, and high-school achievement. Unfortunately, these are also areas in which there are striking differences between children from impoverished backgrounds and those from more economically advantaged homes. Because knowledge is exponential, early development of knowledge is key to ensuring academic success for all children. These factors have made developing children’s vocabulary a crucial issue in education research,” Tanya explains.

In the study, Tanya and her co-investigators will examine the effectiveness of intentionally targeting students’ vocabulary learning in schools identified as serving a higher proportion of students from lower socio-economic status backgrounds. Grades 1 and 2 teachers and students from Nova Scotia classrooms will participate, with some classrooms employing targeted, intentional vocabulary-building approaches. Post-test learning, as it relates to students’ initial oral language and comprehension skills, will be used to determine the effectiveness in the targeted instructional strategies in addressing vocabulary underachievement.

The outcomes of this study are expected to contribute to our knowledge of teacher-friendly approaches to vocabulary instruction, to help close the achievement gap in reading comprehension.

Dr. Tanya Kaefer

Dr. Pauline Sameshima Elected to College of Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada

Congratulations to Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies) for being elected to the College of Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada. This is a tremendous achievement—recognition by the Royal Society of Canada is the highest honour an individual can achieve in the Arts, Social Sciences and Sciences. Pauline was recognized on the basis of her innovative work in curriculum theory, poetic inquiry, teaching, research dissemination, and civic engagement development.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada advises the government and the larger society, recognizes excellence, and promotes a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.

Dr. Ellen Field Joins Faculty as Assistant Professor

Dr. Ellen Field (Orillia campus) has joined the Faculty of Education as an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership and Administration.

Ellen notes: “I am thrilled to join the Faculty. For me, this position is full circle as I graduated from the Bachelor of Education program in Thunder Bay in 2005 and I know firsthand the impact the program had on my teaching career and trajectory.

My research is focused on reorienting learning within formal education to ensure that educational institutions are responsive to authentically addressing the socio-ecological challenges facing communities in the 21st century. Looking into the next few decades, there is little certainty of what the future holds in our rapidly changing world—climate shifts, technological shifts, resource shifts, migration shifts, and demographic shifts—and within this nexus of uncertainty, the need for adaptive and transformative leadership has never been more certain.

Most recently, I completed a SSHRC postdoc at Lakehead (May 2018-May 2020) which focused on climate change education and resulted in a nationwide study of 3200 Canadians’ (approximately 1200 teachers, 600 parents, 500 students, and 900 members of the general public) views on climate change and climate change education. The results show that there is strong support for schools to be doing more to educate young people about climate change from all respondent groups. The survey also provides the first comprehensive snapshot of climate change education practices in Canadian classrooms—in terms of hours of instruction, subjects, teacher self-reported preparedness, and instructional strategies used. The data is being shared through knowledge mobilization sessions, in which senior policy-makers are brought together along with youth, teachers, education associations, faculties of education, educational foundations, and non-profits to review the data and then develop action plans for addressing gaps in climate change education policy and practice.

As an educator, I bring experience in facilitating experiential inquiry and community-focused learning processes, which are embedded within social dimensions of education, such as leadership, democracy, citizenship, diversity and equity. I have worked as a contract lecturer in the Faculty since January 2017, and have also worked as a professional development consultant for Learning for a Sustainable Future since 2017, leading climate inquiry workshops for over 800 teachers across Canada. While the challenges facing schools are myriad, there are so many passionate and critically-minded teachers and administrators working hard to prepare young people for the complex world they are inheriting that I remain stubbornly optimistic of our education systems’ capacity to pivot to emerging dynamics as they unfold. I look forward to this continued opportunity to teach and learn with students and colleagues at LU!”

Recent Books by Dr. Pauline Sameshima Win an Award and an Honourable Mention

Two books published last year by Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies) have been recognized by the Society of Professors of Education—with one winning an Outstanding Book Award and the other, an Outstanding Book Award Honourable Mention.

Parallaxic Praxis: Multimodal Interdisciplinary Pedagogical Research Design, which Pauline co-authored with Dr. Patricia Maarhuis (Washington State University) and Dr. Sean Wiebe (University of Prince Edward Island) was awarded the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award. This book outlines the extensive research possibilities of the “parallaxic praxis” framework for interdisciplinary partnerships, cross-sector collaborations, and scholars undertaking research projects in social justice, community engagement, teacher education, Indigenous research, and health and wellness.

Ma: Materiality in Teaching and Learning was awarded a 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award Honourable Mention. The book, co-edited with Dr. Boyd White (McGill University) and Dr. Anita Sinner (Concordia University), explores the Japanese concept of ma as “the interval between two markers,” as a threshold space where new understanding and learning can occur. 

Lakehead Research Team Adapts eHealth App to Serve Maternal Health Needs in the North

Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Research, Faculty of Education) and a team of Lakehead University researchers including Principal Investigator Dr. Helle Moeller, Dr. Jennifer Chisholm, Dr. Manal Alzghoul, and Master of Health Sciences student Abigale Kent have been working on a research project focusing on maternal health care for Indigenous and immigrant women in Northwestern Ontario.

Their research was recently featured in The Chronicle Journal, in relation to their plans to customize a software application to provide women in the region with access to maternal supports, including mental health education care during the pregnancy and post-partum period.

In particular, the eHealth app is being customized to fit the needs of Indigenous and immigrant women, who often do not have the same level of pre- and post-natal care and education as other women. The lack of support they experience may be due to socioeconomic, linguistic, and cultural differences—or, for those living up North, not being close to where programs are offered.   

The team is funded by Women’s Xchange of Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, and the SSHRC Explore Research Development Fund.

Pictured below, from left to right: Dr. Pauline Sameshima, Dr. Jennifer Chisholm, Abigale Kent, Dr. Helle Moeller, and Dr. Manal Alzghoul.

BEd Graduate Rupinder Grewal Awarded Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation Faculty of Education Award

Congratulations to Rupinder Grewal (graduate of the BEd program, 2020), who has received the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) Faculty of Education Award, valued at $1,000. The award is granted to a graduating Intermediate/Senior Teacher Candidate who is seeking employment with a public secondary board and who exemplifies values of importance to the OSSTF, including being an advocate of unionism, engaging in social activism to promote the professional nature of teaching, and showing leadership among Teacher Candidates.

Rupinder’s dedication to activism and the teaching profession is evidenced by her leadership and support shown in various capacities, such as school breakfast programs, teachers’ unions, the Climate Strike Rally in Thunder Bay, and the Ontario Teacher Candidates’ Council.

One of Rupinder’s Associate Teachers noted in a letter of support that Rupinder is “passionate about equity in education. She is an extremely hard worker, but more than that, she is extremely caring. She has a wonderful persona that makes students and colleagues feel at ease around her. She was firm with student behavior but had the natural ability to flip from discipline to cheerleader, showcasing conflict resolution strategies that many seasoned colleagues have developed over a career. She is a natural teacher who is warm, caring, humorous and patient. She will be an asset to any school lucky enough to hire her, and will no doubt be a force within our union to support our colleagues and lead by example.”

Rupinder is currently seeking employment with a public school board, and will be pursuing a Master of Education program at Lakehead starting in Fall 2020.

Congratulations Rupinder on this achievement!

Master of Education Students Honoured as Lakehead Leaders

This year marks the fourth year of the Lakehead Leader Recognition Program, a program based on the principles of Lakehead University’s motto: Achievement through Effort. The Faculty of Education extends congratulations to three current Master of Education students and one MEd alumna who have been named Lakehead Leaders, in recognition of their contributions on campus and within their communities. 

Gia Spiropoulos, MEd student (Orillia) has been recognized as a Lakehead Leader in the category of Citizenship and Community Engagement. Gia has taken on a leadership role with the Women’s Extramural Basketball program. She stepped up to fill the vacant coaching position as a player-coach, actively supports her teammates in their academic endeavours beyond the court, and volunteers as a basketball coach with a girls’ team in Barrie, where she is inspiring a future generation of athletes.

Courtney Strutt, MEd student (Thunder Bay) has been recognized as a Sustainability Leader. Courtney plays an active role in organizing climate change-related activism in the community, and her thesis is centered on how community activists can address the crisis of values behind climate change related to solidarity work between Indigenous people and settlers. She supported the curriculum development of the undergraduate Climate Change Pedagogy course and is widely involved in University and community working groups focused on climate action, sustainability, and solutions.

Jacob Kearey-Moreland, MEd student (Orillia) has been recognized as a Sustainability Leader. Jacob is focused on creating opportunities to assist and uplift those facing food insecurity. His work with Lakehead’s Farm Club—which strives to “grow food and farmers of the future” to nourish the whole student body, mentally and physically—is a testament to his dedication. He has produced local organic CSA food boxes for a number of years and hosts events and tours at his farm, to advocate for food sustainability through community supported agriculture.

Erin Chochla, MEd alumnus; current Law student (Thunder Bay) has been recognized as a Lakehead Leader in the category of Academic Excellence. An exceptional student, admired teaching assistant, and excellent research assistant in Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Erin is lauded by faculty for her performance in the classroom and her high degree of integrity and respect for others.  

Further details on the 2020 Lakehead Leaders, and their accomplishments, are published here.

Pictured below: Gia Spiropoulos, Courtney Strutt, Jacob Kearey-Moreland, and Erin Chochla.