New research initiatives supported by SSHRC grants

The Okanagan School of Education is pleased to share that three faculty members have received Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants.

Congratulations to Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, Dr. Karen Ragoonaden and Dr. Sabre Cherkowski on their successful applications!

Undergraduate Student Stress Reduction Through Virtual Canine Comfort
2021 – 2024 |  $88, 915
Dr. John-Tyler Binfet (UBC) and Dr. Christine Tardif-Williams (Brock University)

Post-secondary students are known to experience heightened stress as they adjust to campus and balance academic and life responsibilities; which sometimes includes a full or part-time job. This stress has been exacerbated under the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions as students face unprecedented and unpredictable times.

Dr. John-Tyler Binfet along with co-applicant Dr. Christine Tardif-Williams, Brock University, have received a SSHRC Insights Grant to create Virtual Canine Comfort modules. Canine intervention sessions hosted on-campus as part of UBC’s Building Academic Retention through K9s program (B.A.R.K.) have been proven to be an effective and popular way of reducing stress, but can these sessions have the same effect virtually? In light of COVID-19 and online learning, this project will assess the effects of synchronous (i.e., interactions offered via Zoom) and asynchronous (i.e., interactions offered via Youtube) modules on students’ self-reports of stress.

By assessing students’ perceptions of their experience with the various models of virtual canine comfort modules, Drs. Binfet and Tardif-Williams will determine whether the well-established in-person stress-reduction program can be delivered digitally. If seen to be an effective method of intervention, the Virtual Canine Comfort videos will be made accessible for use by students across Canada. The project will also contribute to the fields of human-animal interactions and post-secondary student mental well-being by assessing a low-barrier and low-cost way of supporting student stress reduction through therapy dogs.

Therapy dogs and their handlers from B.A.R.K. program will be recruited to participate in the creation of modules.

Mindfulness and Antiracist Education: Developing Critical Reflection
2021 – 2024  |  $86, 370
Dr. Karen Ragoonaden (UBC), Dr. Heesoon Bai (Simon Fraser University) and Dr. Oren Ergas (Beit Berl College)

The research involves introducing mindfulness practices in antiracist education courses delivered over three years at two campuses: the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBC O) and Simon Fraser University (SFU). The researchers hypothesize that mindfulness, as a reflective practice, has the potential to support educators as they navigate unsettling and provocative discussions relating to race, gender, culture and identity. Specifically, the research questions are: How can mindfulness practices support critical self-reflection when discussing privilege and marginalization? How do pre-service and service teachers respond, emotionally, physically and intellectually to mindfulness practices as they engage antiracist education?

Understanding the Wellbeing Capacity of Preservice Teachers
2021 – 2024  |  $182, 420
Dr. Benjamin Kutsyuruba (Queen’s University), Dr. Karen Ragoonaden (UBC), Dr. Keith Walker (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Lorraine Godden (Carleton University), Dr. Sabre Cherkowski (UBC) and Dr. Timothy Claypool (University of Saskatchewan)

The research will examine the extent and depth of disciplined and conscious programmatic considerations within teacher education programs in Canada to equip pre-service teachers with the capacity to nurture and sustain well-being for themselves and for those they serve and with whom they work. The research objectives are to: a) identify specific components related to policies, principles, initiatives, and practices with respect to fostering well-being in teacher education programs across Canada; b) describe the effectiveness of programmatic efforts at the teacher education level designed to develop aspiring teachers’ capacities to promote well-being in their practica and early career teaching; c) examine the respective foundational paradigms that give rise to a focus on nurturing well-being in pre-service teachers; and d) synthesize these findings with those found in the extant literature to develop a systematic schema of promising characteristics to inform the future curriculum and policy landscapes of fostering well-being in and through teacher education programs in Canada.


Learn more about current research grants in progress.

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