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!

May Issue of Faculty Newsletter Published

The May issue of our Education Exchange newsletter has been published. This newsletter brings our current and former students, as well as our educational partners, together to share news, successes, and innovations.

To access our Education Exchange newsletter, click the following link:

Education Exchange Newsletter (May 2020)

To see previous issues of the newsletter, visit the newsletter archives.

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.

Drs. Ruth Beatty and Pauline Sameshima Win Research and Innovation Week Awards

Congratulations to Dr. Ruth Beatty (Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Orillia) and Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Research, Faculty of Education, Thunder Bay), who were granted Research and Innovation Week awards in recognition of the innovative ways they are conducting research to foster community connections.

Dr. Ruth Beatty: Community-Engaged Research Award
“Our goal has been to make math meaningful and relevant to First Nations and Métis students by creating explicit connections to their community, and to provide an opportunity for all students to experience culturally sustaining mathematics instruction.”

That’s how Dr. Ruth Beatty describes the First Nations and Métis Math Voices Project—a project for which she and colleague Colinda Clyne (Curriculum Leader for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education for the Upper Grand DSB) were awarded Lakehead’s Community-Engaged Research Award. This project sees research teams comprised of Anishinaabe and Métis leaders, artists, and educators working with non-Indigenous educators to explore the mathematics inherent in First Nations and Métis cultural practices. All elements of the research processes, from goal-setting to dissemination, are done in partnership with community. 

To date, capacity building outcomes of the First Nations and Métis Math Voices Project have included the Indigenous Education and Mathematics Conference (May 2019); co-presentations at provincial, national and international academic and practitioner conferences; successful grant applications; co-authored book chapters; and the incorporation of work into the mathematics curriculum and instruction course for preservice BEd students at the Orillia campus. The research team is also producing a culturally responsive math education webinar series.

Dr. Pauline Sameshima: Building Research Capacity Award

Dr. Pauline Sameshima’s award recognizes her work over the past years in transforming the University space—quite literally—through the establishment of six art gallery spaces on campus, as well as one virtual gallery. Known as GALLERIES@LAKEHEADU, the Galleries promote University wellness by enhancing the physical environment through aesthetic and intellectual enrichment.

Showcasing creative works of Lakehead researchers, students, and community artists, the galleries promote interdisciplinary research and social responsibility. Past exhibits have included projects relating to climate change, food sustainability, Indigenous knowledge, methamphetamine addiction, and dementia. The exhibitions are juried, engaging both community artists and academics and including international jurors and researchers.

“Current research attests to how innovating working spaces improve happiness, productivity and wellbeing,” Pauline explains. “The galleries are intentional means to mobilize research, develop partnerships across disciplines, share research across campus, invite mingling across communities, create university community engagement, and promote and celebrate Lakehead research.”

Pictured below left: Ruth Beatty with Colinda Clyne; right: Pauline Sameshima

Dr. Sonja Grover Publishes New Book: Judicial Activism and the Democratic Rule of Law: Selected Case Studies

A new book by Dr. Sonja Grover (Professor, Faculty of Education), Judicial Activism and the Democratic Rule of Law: Selected Case Studies (2020), has been published.

As explained on the Springer website, this book “(a) discusses judicial activism on the left and the right; (b) argues that judicial activism in respect of the protection of human rights and due process is an essential feature of the democratic rule of law as opposed to being ‘judicial overreach’ and (c) discusses selected contemporary US Supreme Court, Canadian Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights cases illustrating that these courts have, at times, engaged in judicial activism in the service of providing equal protection of the law and due process to the powerless but have, on other occasions, employed legalistic but insupportable strategies to sidestep that obligation.

The book will be of interest to those with a deep concern regarding the factors that influence judicial decision-making and the judiciary's role through judgments in promoting and preserving the underpinnings of democracy. This includes legal researchers, the judiciary, practicing counsel, legal academics, and law students, as well as those in the area of democracy studies and the philosophy of law.”