Faculty Research Themes
Faculty research interests are varied and intersect. The following thematic overview provides access to some of these interests and intersections:
1. Mindful Engagement, & Well-Being within Educative Contexts
2. Teaching/Learning in an Increasingly Globalized
3. Curricular Enactment: Attentive to Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, Contexts, & Practical Wisdom
4. Ethical and Democratic Aims of Education
5. Educational Leadership: Policies, Practices, & Reform Initiatives
• Sustainable Childhood Obesity Prevention Through Community Engagement (SCOPE):
• Develop and maintain effective community partnerships resulting in collaboration and collective action.
• Work with the community to identify successful programs and areas of need, and define priorities for local action.
• Implement sustainable and effective local action that builds upon existing successes and addressed areas of need.
• Help community members measure the impact of their efforts over time.
• This will help alleviate sedentary
This research is in partnership with pediatric endocrinologists, pediatricians, assistant professors and professors. As well, community liaisons from the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack are involved as well. This research is funded
• Got Health:
This research is funded by a $10,000 research grant
• Action Schools: Promoting Healthy Living: Another area of student engagement and leadership in health that I am involved in is with Action Schools! BC. Action Schools! BC is a best practices model designed to assist schools in creating individualized action plans to promote healthy living. This organization contributes to the health of children by integrating physical activity and healthy eating messages into the fabric of the school community, with the goal of providing children with a foundation for life-long healthy living.
This research is being co-investigated with Dr. PJ Naylor from the University of Victoria and members of the Action Schools! BC team. The study involves training students in Grade 5 who then, in turn, teach younger students healthy eating practices and outdoor physical activities. This is
Conceptualizations of Kindness: Working within a Social and Emotional Learning framework, Dr. Binfet researches children and adolescents’ conceptualizations of kindness (what does it mean to be kind?). His work examines both how students understand kindness and
Animal-Assisted Therapy: Established in 2012, Dr. Binfet is the Director of UBC’s Building Academic Retention through K9’s (BARK) program whose aim is to support the social and emotional well-being of students on campus by providing access to therapy canines. Dr. Binfet’s research examines the effects of canine-assisted therapy on university students’ perceptions of stress and homesickness and the extent to which students feel connected to campus. A unique feature of the B.A.R.K. lab is that Dr. Binfet and his team assess their own pool of therapy dogs and handlers for participation in community and research programs. Research from the B.A.R.K. lab (both randomized controlled trials and case studies) has been published in top animal therapy journals including Anthrozoos and Society & Animals and findings from B.A.R.K. are even listed on WebMD! Each year, over 30% of UBC Okanagan students make use of the Drop-in and BARK2GO programs offered on campus. The B.A.R.K. lab is funded by UBC Okanagan’s AVP Students’ Office and VEDA Exclusive Student Living. Contact the BARK Office
• Flourishing in Schools: School Improvement as Organizational Well-being: There is an increasing body of research in psychology and organizational theory that finds that paying attention to capacities such as happiness, resilience, optimism and compassion can lead to benefits in the workplace such as improvements in organizational commitment,
• Fostering Pedagogical Relationships: The mindful ground that prospective teachers encounter
• Seeing and Acting on Innovation’s Renewing Potential-- The Fecundity of Genuine Learning Contexts: The newly opened “Innovative Learning Centre” (ILC) within our Faculty of Education provides the context to study and give expression to the workings of innovation with Dr. Susan Crichton and additional Centre collaborators. The ILC challenges notions of innovation that characterize it as a distinct quality in self, others, and situations, that is rare and special and, instead, returns to innovation’s etymological roots of
• Mindful Teaching and the Pedagogy of Well-Being: This conceptual research examines a teacher educator’s exploration and integration of mindfulness in pedagogical practice. Mindfulness is described as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn 2003, p.144). Using a wellness wheel (Soloway, Poulin & Mackenzie, 2010) and a reflective journal, an educator observed how the progression of a daily mindful practice impacted on personal and professional identity, on becoming a reflective practitioner and on developing a holistic vision of teaching. In keeping with the literature, results derived from this inquiry also demonstrated how mindfulness skills increased a sense of well-being and self-efficacy, leading to increased clarity and stability of attention. Furthermore, the positive impact on classroom practice and on interpersonal relationships with students was noted.
• Designing Mindfulness Programs: As
2. Teaching/Learning in an Increasingly Globalized World: Attention to the Local as Forming/Informing the Global
• The Future of Education: At a time of substantial change and ubiquitous access to information, educators struggle to change even the most basic aspects of their classroom practice. This is especially true for those in challenging contexts where many continue to teach through the “
In my work, I acknowledge with my East African colleagues that teachers in challenging contexts face even a more daunting task. We define challenging contexts as settings in which individuals, due to a variety of circumstances, conditions or environmental constraints, do not have access to one of more aspects that underpin a civil society. Using funding from a recent
• Embracing the Potential of the 21st Century: Globally, educators are wrestling with ways to reform an education system built for an industrial age now almost obsolete in a Knowledge Age. We know significant reform is needed and we have adequate research to inform a way forward, but a question remains – Knowing what we know, how do we change the entrenched and conservative bureaucracy that directs most education systems and embrace the potential and promise of
The model presented in this study is a response to a design problem of how best to inform professional development and support course redesign. Just as cellphone technology enabled developing countries to leapfrog innovations in telephony, this model is a partial answer to how
• Additionally: Explorations of appropriate technologies for challenging contexts and development of
3. Curricular Enactment: Attentive to Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, Contexts, & Practical Wisdom
• Trans-Curricular Problem Sets: A teacher education program based upon a constructivist, student-centered perspective includes modularized courses that integrate methods across a range of discipline areas. One such course, EDUC 407, focuses
• Task-based Language Teaching: This study presents the wider results of an online survey designed to explore teacher perceptions of Task-based Language Teaching (TBLT) in the Canadian context (Douglas & Kim, 2013). The survey was grounded in Ellis’ (2009) definition of TBLT as focusing on communication and meaning with a necessary exchange of information, a reliance on students own linguistic resources, and an ultimate outcome. Participants were recruited from the Teachers of English as a Second Language Canada Federation (TESL Canada) membership, with a total of 217 out of a possible 6,833 members taking part. Through the coding and grouping of participant responses, emergent themes arose in the data regarding successful examples of TBLT tasks, the benefits of TBLT, the drawbacks of TBLT, and participants’ further thoughts on the topic.
• Additional Language Assessment: This pilot study is an investigation into the lexical validity of the CELPIP General speaking and writing levels of performance and the accompanying CLB equivalencies. Vocabulary is seen as an underlying variable of general English language proficiency. In order to investigate productive vocabulary in use in the speaking and writing components of the CELPIP General, two corpora were created of combined previously rated individual test taker responses to a set of speaking and writing prompts. 58 speaking samples were collected for a spoken corpus of 49,588 running words. 149 writing samples were collected for a written corpus of 44,114 running words. Lexical analysis of the breadth of vocabulary found in the samples was carried out with vocabulary profiling tools (Cobb, 2013). For the speaking samples, for all but one of the measures, significant correlations were found between the measures of lexical breadth of knowledge and the CLB equivalencies. For the writing samples, significant correlations were found for all of the measures of lexical breadth of knowledge and the CLB equivalencies. These findings confirm the lexical validity of the corpora’s previously rated CELPIP General levels of performance and the CLB equivalencies.
• Additional Language Vocabulary Acquisition: This study builds on previous work exploring reading and listening lexical thresholds (Nation, 2006; Laufer & Ravenhorst-Kalovski, 2010; Schmitt, Jiang, & Grabe, 2011) in order to investigate productive vocabulary targets that mark successful entry-level undergraduate writing. Papers that passed the Effective Writing Test (EWT) were chosen to create a corpus of novice university level writing (N = 120). Vocabulary profiles were generated, with results indicating the General Service List (GSL) and the Academic Word List (AWL) cover an average of 94% of a typical paper. Further analysis pointed to 3,000 word families and 5,000 word families covering 95% and 98% respectively of each paper. Low frequency lexical choices from beyond the 8,000 word family boundary accounted for only 0.6% coverage. These results support the frequency principle of vocabulary learning (Coxhead, 2006), and provide lexical targets for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum development and materials design.
• Experiences of Undergraduate Students from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds: This study compares the undergraduate academic achievement of domestic English language learners (ELLs) of different age on arrival (AOA) cohorts to native English speakers (NS), all of whom graduated from local high schools. The broad research question that frames the study is how the literacy levels of ELLs of different AOA cohorts influence retention, progress, and grade point average (GPA) as indicators of academic success. Findings suggest that ELLs are resilient and determined as they make progress toward degree status. However, their progress and achievement, regardless of AOA, is fraught with challenges. This outcome represents a loss of educational capital for Canada in an economy that needs the participation of these students, who are among our brightest and best. Suggestions are made for policy reform, pedagogy, and service provision for ELLs at university.
• Transition from High School to University for English Language Learners: In this study, various measures of educational achievement of English language learners (ELLs) are compared to those of native English speakers (NS) who graduated high school in Calgary and were admitted into first year studies at the University of Calgary (U of C); and the literacy demands of university manifested in the readability levels of first year textbooks are analyzed. Findings suggest ELLs are academically competent, as reflected in the achievement outcomes of provincial high school diploma examinations in mathematics. The vast majority, however, are inadequately prepared for the literacy demands of university and are at immediate academic risk. Suggestions are made for policy, transitional programming, and the provision of services that may support academic achievement at university for this growing profile of learners on campus.
• Cultural Influences of Media: Curriculum development and evaluation are broad areas of research interests framing specific areas within Educational Technology and Digital Learning concerning the cultural influences of media, new media and learning environments. Project based, collective, and flexible learning experiences provide contexts for such study.
• Taking Making into Schools – exploration of the introduction to the Maker Movement in schools as a way of fostering interest in Trades and Technology in Grades K – 9 and supporting constructionist, inquiry learning.
• Innovative Learning Centre: Development of an Innovative Learning Centre within a Faculty of Education
• New Directions for Distance Education: Toward Flexible Learning. Two
• Meaningful Technologies for Learning: Implementation of meaningful technologies to foster innovative teaching and learning. Building on previous research which studied the two-phase deployment of iPod Touch and iPad devices in a large, urban Canadian school board. The purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of the infrastructure required to support handheld devices in classrooms; the opportunities and challenges teachers face as they begin to use handheld devices for teaching and learning; and the opportunities, challenges and temptations students face when gaining access to handheld devices and wireless networks in K – 12 schools. A mixed method approach was used: online survey, monthly professional development activities with teachers, collected samples of lesson plans and student
Curricular Conversations—The Aesthetics of Human Understandings: Viewing curriculum as
• The Impact of EDUC 104 Introduction to Academic Pedagogy on Retention and Degree Completion: This
• Crossing boundaries through collaborative self-study: Within the context of a collaborative self-study, two teacher educators explored and analyzed the challenges and opportunities of being “change agents.” Shared interests (best practice in teacher education programs) and different backgrounds (urban and rural contexts, gender differences, cultural and ethnic variations) offered many occasions to engage in a critical friendship (Costa & Kallick, 1993). In order to support this emergent critical friendship, critical pedagogy provided the lens through which these colleagues explored their beliefs and practices in two very different teacher education programs. Regular Skype encounters coupled with journal writing facilitated constructive reflections based on self-knowledge, cultural knowledge, habits of mind leading towards best practice. As indicated in the literature, the creation of these reflective communities of learning could pave the way for an agency of change negating inequalities and social injustices in pedagogical spheres (Ball, 2009; Ball and Tyson, 2011).
• Contested Sites in education: The Quest for the public intellectual,
• Youth Civic Engagement: An international collaboration exploring youth civic engagement/disengagement across a number of nations including Canada, the UK, the US, Mexico, Israel, Japan,
• Global Citizenry: An exploration of the effectiveness of local and international community-focused, activity-based projects for promoting global citizenship. Other areas of related work include: engagement of youth in sustainability practices, promoting holistic student development through social studies, and exploring youth happiness through innovative research tools (as a co-investigator)
• Additional research focuses on the history of education and of social studies, and in social studies (theoretical and applied)
• The Ethics and Politics of Social Justice in Education: One of my main research interests is how democratic deliberation can better inform socially just and fair educational
A. The Epistemology of Educational Policy-Formation in 21st Century Higher Education
Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
The future of higher education represents one of the most frequently debated and philosophically fraught educational issues to capture the attention of the public in the new millennium. This project investigates the conditions under which it would be possible for philosophical concepts and ideas about education to be legitimately applied in addressing higher education policy debates in a way that respects the values of multicultural and democratic societies such as a Canada.
B. Education for an Austere Future: Rethinking Democratic Aims of Education
The developing research project seeks to determine the extent to which, and ways in which, educational values will need to change in order to address some of the serious challenges facing liberal democracies into the future. For example,
• The Concept of the Educated Person: What does it mean to say that someone is an educated person? How do we know what’s worth including in a school curriculum? Is a good moral education about developing good habits, or critical thinking? What role does the development of knowledge and understanding play in living a good life? These are all questions that were robustly taken up by the philosopher of education, R.S. Peters. In an era of immense reform (and confusion) about the values,
• The Ethics of Teaching and Professional Development: This research project is focused on the relationship between philosophical ethics and moral education. A cogent program of ethics education is premised on an understanding of the nature of ethical life, a central theme in moral philosophy. Ethics education curricula derive its foundational aims and objectives from this understanding. However, ongoing philosophical disagreement about the nature of ethical life makes the development of such curricula unlikely. For example, some philosophical traditions seen morality as essentially rational in nature and therefore see the development of cognition and reasoning skills as basic to any program of moral education. Other traditions argue that emotions have primary significance for ethical life and see the development of capacities for sensitivity and care as fundamental. As a
• Rethinking Curricular Reform in Medical Education: Modern medicine in Canada is currently undergoing change not seen since the publication of Abraham Flexner’s report on North American medical education in 1910. “The Flexner Report” resulted in nothing less
This research project seeks to promote a more sustained engagement with humanistic values and critical methods derived from liberal education and to apply them in the development of a framework of medical education scholarship that can better address the revolutionary change undergoing modern medicine. Such a shift is crucial to the transformation of medical students into
• Learning Community and School Improvement: Three current projects underway with a focus on a learning community approach to school improvement exploring how teachers and other school leaders cultivate and nourish professional learning in themselves and among their colleagues. In a study with my colleague, Dr. Willow Brown, UNBC, I use the lens of teacher leadership and the metaphor of ‘confluence’ to investigate how teachers and formal school leaders create and join the flow of change in schools (Cherkowski & Brown, in press). In a second study, I collaborate with my colleague, Dr. Leyton Schnellert, to study how teacher inquiry teams are useful for cultivating professional learning habits in teachers and across the school. In a third project, I am carrying out an in-depth case study of one principal to gain a deeper and more particular understanding of the principal’s role in influencing the climate
• Leadership and Policy: I have an interest in the work that principals and vice-principals engage
Education politics and policy making from a historical perspective is of particular significance to education policymakers. I research and write on how neoliberal political ideology impacts education and its’ enactment in the province of British Columbia. Specifically I write about how legislative decisions based on neoliberal ideology have influenced regulatory, policy and procedural decisions at the provincial, school district and school levels. Additionally Royal Commissions into education in the province of BC draw my attention as I unpack how those decisions influence educational policy.
• Social Policy: Race, social class and gender permeate my work in social justice, whether it be into ethical teaching, poverty reduction or child and family welfare. Research and writing into collaborative and collegial work, particularly through interprofessional and multidisciplinary education and practice at a the postsecondary level, is a field of investigation.
Last reviewed 4/5/2017 9:56:24 AM