Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

SSHRC Insight Grant Awards

Congratulations to Drs. Liying Cheng, Chris DeLuca and Lindsay Morcom on being awarded SSHRC Insight Grants for the following projects:

Dr. Liying Cheng
LiyingWhat's in a grade - a multiple perspective validity study on grading policies, practices, values and consequences
The purpose of this study is to investigate the validity of grades by examining the policies, practices, values and consequences of teacher constructed grades in Canada and China. The current trend towards globalization, immigration, and internationalization of schools and universities around the world has led to the increased use of grades across educational systems. Grades, the process of summating student achievement using a numerical or ordinal scale, are the dominant currency that enables student migration patterns; in particular, the recent upsurge of Chinese students studying and settling in Canada. Given the use of grades for student promotion, mobilization, and admission into educational programs internationally, there is an urgent need to understand the validity of grades––the alignment of grading policies, practices, values, and consequences––within and across learning contexts. Grades are often used as the high-stakes decision-making tool for accepting students into Canadian universities. However, grades are not consistently constructed or valued internationally. Understanding differences in the learning culture of grading within and across these two countries is important to enable valid interpretations of student achievement based on grades. Ensuring valid grade interpretation is critical given the direct impact of grades on students who come to Canada to study and settle, and the impact on Canada itself––socially, educationally, and economically. The short-term implications are evident in changing school and community dynamics across Canada; the long-term impact will affect the availability of knowledge workers and citizens supporting the Canadian economy.

Dr. Christopher DeLuca
Chris DeLucaConstructing an Integrated Assessment Framework for Play-based Kindergarten Education
Kindergarten education in Canada is changing. Within the current accountability context of public education, kindergarten teachers are required to use assessments to identify students' learning needs, guide instruction, and measure student growth towards academic standards. Simultaneously, kindergarten teachers are mandated to use play-based pedagogies to promote student learning during this critical developmental period. A central challenge facing kindergarten teachers is the integration of assessment within play-based learning contexts. Previous research has shown that teachers struggle to interpret and integrate contemporary assessment theory and policies. This struggle is compounded for kindergarten teachers because no comprehensive framework exists to support teachers' use of assessment within academically-driven, play-based learning contexts. This research directly responds to the challenge of developing an assessment framework that integrates academic standards and play-based developmental pedagogies, germane to Canadian educational contexts.

Teacher Assessment Competency within the Accountability Era of Canadian Education: Constructing a Baseline Measure
Teacher competency in educational assessment is a professional requirement within the existing standards-based, accountability framework of Canadian public education. Teacher assessment competency involves the ability to construct reliable assessments, and then administer and score these assessments to facilitate valid instructional decisions anchored to provincial educational standards. Further, recent policy and legislation directives throughout Canada have emphasized classroom teachers’ continuous integration of student assessment data to guide instruction and support student learning via formative and summative assessment practices. Despite these policies, there is surprisingly little research on teachers current assessment practices. One of the central reasons for a lack of baseline research on Canadian teachers’ assessment competency is that no reliable instrument for measuring teacher competency exists that is predicated on the knowledge and skills teachers need within the current accountability context. The purpose of this research is to conduct a baseline study that examines teachers’ current assessment competencies in relation to recently created standards for professional practice in educational assessment by constructing a reliable, generalizable instrument to measure teacher assessment competency within the context of Canadian public education. By identifying gaps in teachers’ assessment competency, professional learning structures can be constructed that promote positive classroom cultures that use assessment pedagogically to enhance student learning.  Accordingly, the results of this study will enable targeted teacher professional development aimed at leveraging classroom assessments as structures for promoting positive learning experiences and enhanced student achievement across Canadian schools

Dr. Lindsay Morcom
Lindsay MorcomThe Impact of Language Immersion on School Success for Anishinaabe Children
Following years of assimilative education policy, First Nations communities across North America are facing significant challenges with respect to educational achievement and language loss.  Most First Nations languages in Canada are now endangered, and less than half of First Nations youth graduate from high school, often leaving with low self-esteem and a lack of pride in their heritage.  However, as First Nations take back control of their education systems, they are increasingly looking to language immersion and culture-based education to find ways to improve outcomes for their children and to use the education system to revitalize their languages.  This research examines the impact of immersion education on (a) language acquisition, (b) academic success, and (c) student self-esteem to determine the impact that immersion and culture-based education have on Anishinaabe students in all of these areas.  Thus far, this and other research suggests that culture-based, immersion education produces positive academic and personal outcomes for Indigenous children, and offers an opportunity to slow or reverse Indigenous language loss.