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Current Projects

Collaboration With Haskayne School of Business | Project Website

A Haskayne School of Business class project instruction was to reach out and engage the community. A group of 10 students decided to introduce technology at 2 junior high schools. The grade 8 math teachers at both Holy Cross Junior High School and Madeleine d'Houet French School were excited about University business students coming in and showcasing a different approach to teaching math. In one of the sessions, the business students use a site called "Kahoot" - this was a game-like environment that stimulated the student's learning and engagement through a mild form of competition.

Quote from the University Business student: The main objective of this project was to introduce technology into the student's everyday learning, as well as, explain how beneficial the business world is to their learnings. We chose "Kahoot" to attempt to engage students in a fun learning environment, while testing their (junior high students) knowledge on the subject, allowing for the Junior teacher to fully understand which level the students were at in the course. A great experience for the students and wonderful opportunity for us to give back to the community"  (Completed)

Lead Researcher: Sharaz Khan | sharaz.khan@haskayne.ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-5685

Focus on Inquiry

Many teachers are learning to develop instructional design, teaching, and assessment practices that are more closely aligned with contemporary research on how people learn.  One of these learning-focused designs is discipline-based inquiry (Friesen & Scott, 2013).  

Findings from this study suggest that an inquiry stance builds pedagogy and leadership capacity through professional learning and impacts student learning. Inquiry can impact organizational change, and is clearly positioned as an important component of the overall learning culture.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Sharon Friesen, Dr. Barb Brown | sfriesen@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-8942

How to Support Social Interaction Between International and Canadian Students

Dr. Xu Zhao and Dr. Nancy ArthurFor international students attending Canadian schools, making friends with local peers is a highly challenging task. However, little research evidence exists to inform educators of how international students and Canadian students understand the meaning and process of friendship participation in similar and different ways. By investigating this question, we aim to identify the cognitive and cultural factors that facilitate or hinder social engagement between international and Canadian students. (Fall 2014)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Nancy Arthur and Dr. Xu Zhao | narthur@ucalgary.ca, xu.zhao@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 804-8832

Identifying Excellence in Partner Teachers: A Model of Innovative Partner Teacher Recruitment

(left to right) Jim Reily, Assistant Principal; Shirley Pepper, Principal; and Anne Kromm, Assistant Principal This study, conducted by Dr. Amy Burns in partnership with Cochrane High School, has been examining the creation and implementation of a protocol to be used when selecting partner teachers for the field experience program in the Bachelor of Education program in the Werklund School of Education. 

Designed as the focus of a professional learning community, leaders in Cochrane High School, as well as other leaders in the Rocky View School Division and the Werklund School of Education, got together to design a protocol that would act as the basis for thoughtful and deliberate conversations around pedagogical practice and teaching passion for potential partner teachers. 

This research will continue next year as the protocol is refined and further implemented. (Spring 2015)

Lead Researcher: Amy Burns, PhD | amburns@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-3625

Impacting STEM Culture in Schools Through Professional Learning

Within the IOSTEM mandate, the Galileo Educational Network (Galileo) has designed and initiated a professional learning series to build STEM capacities for K-9 teachers, learning leaders and STEM discipline specialists in 2016 and 2017. Invitations to participate in the Werklund School of Education Series were targeted to classroom teachers and learning leaders in schools whose jurisdictions are members of the University of Calgary Partner Research Schools (PRS) initiative in the Calgary area.

The aim of the professional learning series is to enable classroom practitioners and school based leaders to explore the structures, supports, processes, practices, and implications within the promotion of teacher and student engagement in STEM.  Using a design-based professional learning approach, the series is designed to provide participants with a variety of opportunities to explore STEM theory and research, and to collaboratively design learning activities alongside disciplinary and pedagogical experts from Galileo and the Werklund School of Education (WSE).

Participants in the professional learning series are also provided with an opportunity to participate in a research study investigating the impact of professional learning upon STEM culture in schools. 

Professional Learning leads: Kenzie Rushton, Kari Sirup & Candace Saar

Lead Researcher: Dr. Pratim Sengupta, Dr. Barbara Brown, Dr. Gabriela Alonso-Yanez, Dr. Armando (Paulino) Preciado & Dr. Marie-Claire Shanahan | pratim.sengupta@ucalgary.ca, babrown@ucalgary.ca, galonsoy@ucalgary.ca, apprecia@ucalgary.ca, mcshanah@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-2848

Intellectual Disabilities

Individuals diagnosed with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) are particularly vulnerable as they transition from high school to the adult world. Current transition practices result in lower rates of paid employment, independent living, and access to social activities after graduation. This study is examining the impact of the Whose Future is it Anyway? process on self- and teacher-reported levels of self-determination and knowledge about the transition process. (Fall 2014)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Gabrielle Wilcox | gwilcox@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-2534

Interaction and Collaboration for Mathematics Learning

How can we design pedagogy to facilitate all students’ mathematics learning in linguistically diverse Canadian classrooms? Currently, Miwa Aoki Takeuchi is pursuing a SSHRC-funded project on students’ collaborative learning to explore ways in which we can facilitate richer mathematics and language learning opportunities. Partner Research Schools initiative enhanced the collaborative opportunities with Calgary schools for this project. (Winter 2016)   

Lead Researcher: Miwa Aoki Takeuchi | Miwa.Takeuchi@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-7714

IOSTEM | Project Website

IOSTEM ResearchThe Imperial Oil Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (IOSTEM) education initiative teams with Partner Research Schools to improve early years STEM Education through research, teachers’ professional learning, children’s learning and undergraduate education.   The reciprocity with the Partner Research Schools is integral to IOSTEM’s commitment to improving STEM Education.

For the past three years, IOSTEM research has focused on developing a curriculum for fostering spatial reasoning, which is the ability to imagine manipulating objects in space.  Spatial reasoning is the number one predictor of children’s future interest and achievement in STEM, yet it is not explicitly taught in schools.  Researchers from across Canada, the United States and Australia collaborate to inform this emerging high impact topic. Informed by the spatial reasoning research, IOSTEM’s professional development focus is on building and programming Lego Mindstorms robots.  Robotics draws on all the STEM disciplines and demands strong spatial reasoning. Teachers and researchers work together to design and study robotics curriculum in the IOSTEM Academy and later enact the curriculum in partner research schools. Werklund School of Education is the first school in Canada to require all pre-service teachers to study STEM education. In their STEM Education course, pre-service teachers learn how to design rigorous integrated STEM learning tasks that incorporates the engineering design process.  This systemic, specialized and sustained approach is beginning to enact changes in schools. For more information, please click on "Project Website".

Research Director: Krista Francis, PhD

(Spring 2015)

Lead Researcher: Pratim Sengupta, PhD and Marie-Claire Shanahan, PhD | kfrancis@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-7338

Learning Leader Professional Learning and Research

The purpose of this study was to explore ways to plan, implement and sustain professional learning for preparing aspiring and developing school leaders with principled practical knowledge and adaptive expertise. A study involving a group of teacher leaders participating in a design-based professional learning series from one of our PRS informs the type of learning needed for school leaders in Alberta to activate teachers’ principled practical knowledge and impact pedagogy and student learning.

A design-based research approach was used for this study. Data collection from 339 learning leaders involved mixed methods: pre- and post- surveys; review of artifacts shared during the professional learning sessions, researcher observations and field notes during design team meetings.

Summary of Findings: In this study learning leaders were part of a collaborative learning network focusing on (1) professional and intellectual engagement; (2) shared standards of practice; and (3) evidence-informed, research-informed and job-embedded professional learning. This study clearly aligned with the district three-year plan focussed on student success through instructional design and leadership and serves to inform leadership preparation for learning leaders and succession planning for leadership in school authorities. Participant feedback demonstrated overall satisfaction with the professional learning sessions and how the structures/topics continually emerged and were designed to be responsive to the needs of participants. The findings from the study demonstrate significant growth in pedagogy, student learning, designing intellectually engaging work and teacher leadership. Participants desire more time for this type of design-based professional learning focused on learning and leadership; they would like increased opportunities for their colleagues and school leaders to also participate in the sessions and increased opportunities for networking outside of the sessions.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Barbara Brown & Dr. Sharon Friesen | babrown@ucalgary.ca, sfriesen@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-7363

Math Minds

St. Rita School is the primary research site for Math Minds. Through the study and development of teachers of a deep understanding of mathematics for teaching they have been working to develop a culture of mathematics. St. Rita has moved to a mentorship role in the district. (Fall 2013)

Lead Researcher: Brent Davis, PhD | brent.davis@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-7127

Mathematics Experiences, Images and Identities

Quick Chat: Exploring the math love/hate relationship

Click here for full story with video and recording

September 25, 2014 - Love it or hate it - everyone can tell you how they feel about math, and what their relationship with the subject has been over the years.

But very little research has been done to understand how and when these experiences and perceptions of math are formed, or how they are expressed.

“Mathematics Experiences, Images and Identities” is a research project underway and it’s being led by Werklund’s Jo Towers, who has just begun her term as the first Werklund Research Professor.

Towers and her team, including postdoctoral scholar Jennifer Hall, have spent hours in classrooms across Calgary in an effort to understand where and how our personal relationships with math are established, as well as to consider some of the challenges teachers and administrators face in educating our children today.

Through the Partner Research Schools (PRS) Initiative, researchers like Jo Towers are learning directly from children, but the collaboration goes well beyond that. Results of the research are shared directly with teachers, administrators and others, locally—in the schools where the research takes place--as well as more broadly through academic publications. In addition, Werklund School of Education researchers are present in the schools to act as professional development facilitators when on site. And this often leads to more opportunities for richer collaboration. (Fall 2014)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Jo Towers | towers@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-7366

Peer Interactions and Emotions in Adolescence

Youth learn about their emotions and how to regulate them mainly in social contexts such as family, peer groups, and school. Although much research has been conducted on how parents influence adolescents’ management of negative emotions, little is known about the role of peers in this process. The main objective of this project was to investigate the peer interactions that facilitate or hinder negative emotion regulation among adolescents. (Winter 2016 - Completed)

Lead Researcher: Setareh Shayanfar, MSc | setareh.shayanfar@ucalgary.ca | Phone: N/A

School Integration Among Newcomer Youth: A Collective Case Study Perspective

This study aims to obtain a holistic, contextual understanding of the phenomenon of school integration.

As such, a collective case study approach will be employed to capture the experiences of multiple groups of individuals within three different context: high school, post-secondary, and community. Accordingly, the following research questions will be investigated: (a) How do participants describe adolescent youth’s integration into school in Canada? (b) What do adolescent youth need as they integrate into school in Canada? (Spring 2015)

Lead Researcher: Anusha Kassan, PhD | anusha.kassan@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-6506

Socially Empowered Learning Framework: Projects, Partnerships, and 3 E's

The Socially Empowered Learning Framework (SELF) is a conceptual design based on cognitive psychology and social theory that underpins pedagogy focused on increasing social empowerment and intellectual engagement. Dr. Martin designed a quasi-experimental model to measure and compare group differences between schools receiving different variations of the Trickster Theatre programs. (Completed)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Brittany Harker Martin | bhmartin@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-4221

Teaching Practice: At the Nexus of Teacher Identity and School Culture

The Werklund School of Education is pleased to be partnering in an ethnographic research study with Westmount Charter School.  Dr. Lissa D’Amour is working closely with middle school mathematics teachers there.  Together we are looking at the educational contexts that both condition and mitigate anxiety in learning systems and that thus influence teaching practice.  A handful of investigations have looked at the dynamic interplay of environments, practices, and beliefs in classrooms and institutions but no one has brought teacher identity into this dynamic. Our work is aimed at better appreciating how particular teaching choices follow from the circumstances of schooling and the emotional-intellectual biographies that each teacher-learner brings into the classroom situation.  (Spring 2015)

Full project description.

Lead Researcher: Lissa D'Amour, PhD | lmdamour@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-2984

Towards a New Approach for Teaching 'Other' Perspectives: Examining the Teaching of Francophone Perspectives in Alberta

What would your reaction be if you were asked to teach the past and contemporary issues from “Francophone perspectives?” That is exactly what is happening in Alberta today where all K-12 social studies teachers are mandated to help their students engage with Francophone perspectives on a regular basis. At this time, however, there has been no field-based research on this topic. Seeking to address this gap in the literature, new relationships are being forged between researchers from the Werklund School of Education and teachers from the Calgary Board of Education, Rocky View Schools, and two Calgary area Francophone schools. Using participatory methodologies, the researchers are meeting with social studies teachers to gain insight into how they understand and practice the teaching of Francophone perspectives, while further ascertaining possibilities for future collaborations.  Ultimately, this research aims to develop and field test new pedagogical strategies that could help students to better appreciate the importance of Francophone peoples, communities, and perspectives within the Canadian context. (Summer 2016)

Lead Researcher: Dave Scott and Raphaël Gani - Université d’Ottawa | scottd@ucalgary.ca | Phone: (403) 220-8808