Faculty of Education Graduate Theses

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    Consequence, Impact, and Washback: Examining Test Preparation as a Unique Dimension of Washback
    Wang, Peiyu; Education; Cheng , Liying
    Testing consequence, impact, and washback are crucial ongoing evidence that testing professionals collect to support the validity of the interpretation and use of test scores. Test preparation is frequently discussed within the context of washback. Guided by Green’s (2007a) predictive model of washback, this study adopts a two-phase consecutive mixed-method design to investigate the washback effects of TOEFL iBT test preparation on integrated English skills for academic purposes among Chinese test takers. A total of 1758 survey responses underwent analysis using descriptive statistics, t-tests, CFA, and SEM to evaluate the statistical relationship between perception of TOEFL iBT test design, test value, and their test preparation practices. Ten semi-structured interviews were analyzed through thematic analysis to explore the impact of TOEFL iBT test preparation on cognitive, metacognitive, and affective learning process and outcomes. The results were combined to examine washback direction, variability, and intensity on learning integrated English skills. The results contribute positive validity evidence to the TOEFL iBT, demonstrating that test preparation for TOEFL iBT has positive washback on what and how Chinese test-takers learn integrated English skills. This positive influence extends to test-takers’ knowledge and skills, academic English proficiency, language learning strategies, and overall test performance. TOEFL iBT test preparation represents a unique form of self-regulated learning, enabling Chinese test-takers to autonomously plan, engage, and monitor their learning. Washback variations were identified in test-takers’ perceptions of test value and design, test preparation choices, and associated characteristics, which have been theoretically and statistically confirmed to be linked to diverse test preparation behaviors, ultimately resulting in different washback outcomes. Washback intensity varies among test-takers and is linked to their perceptions of test importance, usefulness, and difficulty. Chinese test-takers who view the test as more important and useful, with manageable difficulty, are more likely to experience positive impacts. The study provides an in-depth understanding of integrated English skills and offers theoretical, methodological, and empirical implications for future research. The intricate dynamics of learner washback revealed in this study highlight the pivotal role of test-takers and associated factors in shaping washback effects and their connection to test’s validity.
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    The French Connection: French Immersion teachers' perspectives on identity and teaching French Immersion
    Portelance, François-Daniel; Education; Searle, Michelle
    As Canada continues to struggle with its French as a Second Language (FSL) teacher shortage, it is imperative to examine why this leaky pipeline persists. Despite increasing student enrollment to French Immersion (FI) programs in Ontario, school boards are still facing a challenge in hiring and retaining qualified FI teachers, signaling the need for Ministries of Education, school boards, and educational researchers to investigate contributing factors to the shortage. To understand this scarcity, this thesis examines FI teachers’ professional and personal identities, and beliefs about FI programs in Ontario. Through an exploratory sequential mixed methods (ESMM) approach, this inquiry sought to answer two research questions: (1) What are the roles of Ontario FI teachers’ beliefs in teaching FI and perceptions of the programs?, and (2) How do Ontario FI teachers characterize their professional and personal identities? Participants were recruited through a social media campaign and snowball strategy to complete an anonymous questionnaire online. Once the questionnaire was completed, they had the opportunity to express interest in participating in an interview. Data was analyzed sequentially with questionnaire data thematically informing interview questions. Integration of data occurred at two points in the phased approach: initially during the question development and design, and during the interpretive phase. Results of the study reveal the complex linguistic identities of Ontario FI teachers and how they conceptualize the Francophone identity (i.e., a “true” Francophone). Participants also expressed concern over equity-focused challenges, resource accessibility, and professional development opportunities to support their growth and the increasing demands placed on FI educators. The discussion shares theoretical and practical implications for FI programs in Ontario that may support researchers, educators, policy-makers and higher education institutions in addressing the needs of FI teachers in Ontario, and Canada more broadly.
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    Decolonizing STEM Learning through Land-Based Education in Ontario: The Generation of Guiding Principles and Discovery of Unanticipated Outcomes
    Johnston, Alice E.; Education; Morcom, Lindsay
    In Canada Indigenous learners are underrepresented in STEM-related subjects and fields. This is problematic since because Western science, by design, prides itself on being value-free, it struggles to address moral questions regarding how nature should be treated. Combining Indigenous knowledge with the tools of Western science, however, has the potential to enable Western science to be applied in a manner that helps to both generate and maintain reciprocal relationships with the natural world. This dissertation reflects on the process through which diverse stakeholders worked together to produce decolonized grades 7-10 STEM resources intended to engage Indigenous learners in STEM subjects and reconnect Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners to the land. Results shared consider the role that land-based learning and land education play in the decolonization of STEM education. The research study also reflects on the effects of producing decolonized STEM learning materials on the community and institutional stakeholders involved in the process. Findings indicate that the process of working together to produce decolonized STEM learning materials, in addition to the product itself, can spark both personal and institutional shifts towards decolonization.
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    Balancing the Band: Exploring Transgender and/or Gender Non-Conforming Musicians' Experiences Negotiating the Gender Binary in Western Instrumental Music
    Watt, Beck; Education; Airton, Lee
    This qualitative study explores how rigid binary gender expectations in Western instrumental music are negotiated by transgender and/or gender non-conforming (TGNC) musicians. Data was collected from and generated with participants (N=4) from Winnipeg, Manitoba who self-identify as TGNC and have a high level of Western instrumental music expertise and experience. A theoretical framework of “queer creativity” was used to guide the development of this study and provide a unique lens with which to analyze these gendered experiences. Participants engaged in semi-structured interviews and came together to participate in a chamber ensemble focus group which centered the social art of music-making, pulling from arts-informed qualitative research practices. Acting from the position of researcher-participant, my own experiences as a transgender flutist were infused across the data through participating in the chamber ensemble focus group as well as collecting personal journal entries and field notes throughout the span of this study. This research brings a gender-complex perspective to gender- based research in Western instrumental music while illuminating the ways TGNC musicians negotiate binary gender expectations and even find gender affirmation within this art form. Research findings are applicable to music education fields—K-12, post-secondary, and community ensembles—via recommendations to music educators and directors on ways to encourage creative musical spaces that foster the development and exploration of musicianship, gender identity and gender expression. Recommendations also extended to fellow TGNC instrumental musicians, encouraging their continued active participation and highlighting the value in their unique perspectives and voice within these music-making spaces.
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    Examining Embedded Meaning in Canada’s English-Language Proficiency Requirements for Immigration, Asylum and Resettlement, and Citizenship
    McLeod, Melissa A.; Education; Cheng, Liying
    Globally the number of people on the move is increasing as is the use of language proficiency testing for facilitating or blocking immigration, asylum and resettlement, and citizenship. This multi-manuscript dissertation examines the meaning that is embedded in Canada’s English-language proficiency requirements in these three instances where international migrants need to demonstrate a specific level of language proficiency. Despite Canada’s reputation as a global leader in immigration, this dissertation identifies several issues happening in the Canadian context that need more research and advocacy. The findings also revealed the challenges and complexities that even highly proficient and educated test takers face in meeting Canada’s requirements. The first manuscript describes current use of English-language proficiency requirements in top migrant destination countries globally, including Canada, and the factors that have led to their use. It also views different frameworks and definitions from the field of language testing through the lens of Shohamy’s (2001) Critical Language Testing and identifies a gap between the theoretical and conceptual work and empirical work in the migration context. The second manuscript reviews the only test designed and developed for immigration in Canada’s migration context, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) Test, for fit of purpose. Research on this de facto policy tool also highlights the same issues raised in the first manuscript. The third manuscript used interviews to explore test takers’ experiences in trying to meet Canada’s English-language proficiency requirements for permanent residency. This dissertation concludes by identifying the issues that thread through all three manuscripts which call into question Canada’s reputation as a global leader in immigration and by making recommendations for language testing professionals to answer the many calls from the field to engage with language test use within the global migration context.