Faculty of Education Graduate Theses

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    Developing a Model for Educational Advocacy for Parents of Students with Exceptionalities
    Robinson, Kyle; Education; Chin, Jane; DeLuca, Chris
    In order to ensure their children receive an appropriate education, most parents of students diagnosed with an exceptionality or disability find themselves having to advocate at school for their child. The purpose of this research was to develop a model of advocacy by parents of children with exceptionalities. A model for parental advocacy is required as previous research has been limited either by its scope (it focuses on advocating for a specific exceptionality) or by the lack of data supporting its development. A two-phase study was conducted to understand the methods parents use to advocate for their children. The first, a quantitative survey, was designed to understand if parents of different demographics advocate differently. The second phase, qualitative interviews with parents, was used to understand the specific methods parents reported using to advocate and their experiences doing so. A total of 169 parents completed the survey, and this data was analyzed using independent t-tests and one-way analysis of variances. Various demographics were tested for significant differences in parents’ responses. The only demographic groups with statistically significant differences in the methods they used to advocate were those groups based on race. Qualitative analysis revealed that the parents used all nine facets of the LIM model while providing evidence for an additional two facets. While there is evidence to conclude that parents of different ethnicities find all methods of advocating more effective than white/Caucasian parents, few other demographics showed any effect. The qualitative data suggested there is a foundation for the use of the LIM model in advocacy while suggesting further questions that need to be answered about this understudied area of education.
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    Investigating Supports and Barriers Affecting Black Students’ Enrolment and Experiences within Graduate Studies
    Yusuf, Mohamed; Education; Butler, Alana
    The goal of this research study was to identify and examine the supports and barriers affecting Black students’ enrolment and experiences within graduate studies. Using a qualitative approach, I focused on the lived experience of N = 10 current Black graduate students attending universities located in Southern Ontario. Using a deductive approach, this study utilized the theoretical and conceptual framework which locates mentorships as the main form of support, and Socio-economic Status (SES) as the main Barrier when considering the enrolment and experiences of Black students into graduate studies (LeBlanc, 2016; Walpole, 2003). Each of the participants took part in a 30–45-minute semi-structured interview, and we asked about their overall graduate studies experience, along with which support and Barrier they found during the enrolment process, and throughout the course of their degree. Results derived from thematic analysis focusing on participants' support revealed two main themes: 1) relationships with individuals, and 2) university community bonds. These themes provided further analysis, which paved the way for the development of sub-themes. Relationships with individuals provided three additional subthemes: 1) relationships with their mentor, 2) relationships with their friends and peers, and 3) relationships of kinship. While university community bonds provided its own three additional sub-themes: 1) race/ethnic based student groups 2) university athletics, and 3) diversity within the program/university. Meanwhile results focusing on participants’ barriers revealed two main themes: 1) being a First-Generation Student (FGS), and 2) financial considerations, which was further split into the sub-themes of Graduate Funding Packages (GFPs) and SES (Participant and Participant Family). Furthermore, concepts such as Advice to Younger Students, and Conceptual Duality were also discussed, in addition to limitations and future research.
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    Understanding Teacher Candidate and Nursing Student Mental Health Literacy: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour
    Dods, Jennifer C.; Education; Christou, Theodore; Hutchinson, Nancy
    The original intent of this work was to gain an understanding of the personal mental health and mental health literacy of teacher candidates and nursing students, and to understand their intentions to support mental health in their professional fields. Over the years the necessity for teachers and nurses to support mental health across a range of educational and healthcare settings has only increased and while services and supports have also been added, the pandemic highlighted that there is still a great deal to be done. Both professions report feeling inadequately prepared for the role of supporting mental health in practice despite seeing it as essential to overall well-being. To better understand these factors, the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) and Mental Health Literacy (Jorm, 2000) were used as the foundation for a survey conducted with 371 teacher candidates and 167 nursing students during their baccalaureate program. Students were asked about their own personal mental health, and their knowledge and preparation, attitudes, beliefs and perceived behavioural control to support mental health in practice. Descriptive statistics were analyzed, and a predictive analysis was done on the variables within the Theory of Planned Behaviour. The results indicated that attitudes and perceived behavioural control did predict intentions to support mental health in practice however these relationships were mediated in both cohorts by underlying behavioural beliefs. Quantitative results must be interpreted with caution due to poor indices of fit for the model. Key factors influencing mental health literacy were knowledge life experience with mental health (teacher candidates) and clinical experience with mental health during program placements (for nursing students). Although both cohorts had positive attitudes and beliefs towards supporting mental health, both indicated a lack of self-efficacy in putting that support into practice. Regarding personal mental health, the stresses of school, life, and professional practice demonstrate the importance of self care and of supporting the mental health of the teacher candidates and nursing students in addition to providing them with the training and education to support others. The pandemic highlighted the critical role that both professions play in supporting the mental health of those they encounter in their professional practice.
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    Enhancing Pre-Service Teachers' Mental Health Literacies Through Educational Programming
    Parker, Brooke M.; Education; Cooper, Amanda
    Given the decline in the mental health (MH) of children and youth globally, it is imperative that teachers are adequately equipped to support student MH by providing timely and efficient support through early identification, intervention, and referral for treatment. The purpose of this two-phase quantitative study was to explore the mental health literacies (MHL) demonstrated by Ontario pre-service teachers, with a focus on understanding their capacity to address MH concerns among students within the classroom setting. More precisely, the aim was to explore the proficiency of pre-service teachers in recognizing specific disorders, evaluating their levels of knowledge and confidence pertaining to help-seeking, and exploring their attitudes and perceptions towards student MH. The first phase of this study involved a comprehensive review of an existing survey instrument by seven experts from the fields of education and MH. Their feedback and insights were incorporated to enhance the content validity of the adapted survey instrument, the Mental Health Literacy Scale for Educators – Adapted (MHLS-ED-A). Following the refinement, the second phase involved distributing the online survey to pre-service teachers in Ontario, resulting in a total of 114 responses. The psychometric analysis of these responses revealed that three out of the six underlying constructs reached an acceptable internal reliability, forming the basis for subsequent data analysis. The outcomes derived from these constructs demonstrate a strong ability to recognize specific disorders, alongside demonstrating empathetic attitudes towards student with MH challenges. However, pre-service teachers in Ontario demonstrated varying levels of proficiency in help-seeking knowledge, highlighting the necessity for more explicit training and resource allocation related to help-seeking within educational programming. The implications and findings from this study are discussed in relation to research and practices to provide an informative basis on how educational programming can be leveraged to enhance the MHL of pre-service teachers in Ontario.
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    Extended French vs. French Immersion
    Turola, Emma; Education; Myers, Marie
    A school board in southern Ontario is in the process of phasing out their Extended French program and replacing it with French Immersion at the high school level. In this paper I asked a high school administrator and a French as a second language teacher(s) of this school board to describe the phase out process and to relay any implications they believe that this phase out has had on French as a second language teaching and learning in the school board. I also questioned how French as a second language teachers’ levels of self-efficacy were affected by this program change. This paper found that the replacement of Extended French with French Immersion in the research site has impacted French teaching and learning. Although the French Immersion program is less accessible to students in the school board, participants of this study believe that this program change is a good thing and will positively impact French as a second language teaching and learning in the county. In addition, participants believe that the program change could act as a retention factor for French teachers if they are properly supported during the transition. This paper is extremely relevant given the context of the French as a second language teacher shortage in Ontario. Participants of this study made it very clear that they are in dire need of qualified French as a second language teachers in order to be able to make this program change work. The replacement of Extended French with French Immersion, a program that requires more instruction in French, and therefore more qualified French instructors, will be a challenge given this teacher shortage in Ontario.