Why Our Research Matters
The work of the Werklund School of Education is learning, and research is an engaging way of learning what is not already known, or probing what is already known but in new ways. At the Werklund School, the research conducted by our professors and students is incredibly diverse.
Our efforts are shaping the future of teaching and learning including investigating online literacies, championing social justice, and addressing environmental concerns. Werklund researchers are enhancing educational technology, helping others overcome learning disorders, and developing innovative classroom pedagogy.
We are an agile faculty, responding to emerging educational needs, and our research enhances scholarship of all kinds. We seek collaborations with researchers from other disciplines, and with members of interested learning communities who share our aims of optimizing learning wherever possible.
Our Research in Action: Raising awareness, prompting change
Our faculty are dedicated to the mission of integrating purposeful programs with meaningful research responsive to the needs of learners and our communities. Through making evidence accessible to the public, understandable and relevant, our researchers are impacting the society around us.
In sharing research and engaging the community, we aim to create opportunities for broader impact that will improve the lives of individuals and society. Whether in child wellbeing or social change, early childhood learning or language and literacy, Werklund is committed to mobilizing research using evidence and expertise that can influence policy and practice, and improve outcomes for children, youth, teachers and families.
Explore through stories, in the themes below, how Werklund researchers are raising awareness and prompting change in the world around us.
Researchers at the Werklund School are addressing how curriculum can transform ways of thinking about schooling, knowledge, and teaching and learning, while encompassing issues of content, context and teaching in both formal and non-formal educational settings.
At the Werklund School, we are researching strategies to better understand and improve young children's learning and development as a foundation critical for continued prosperity throughout their schooling.
Werklund researchers are fostering more diverse learning communities through addressing challenges in and outside of schools, and sharing the voices of the students, teachers, school psychologists and counselling psychologists working to eradicate conditions that have historically marginalized vulnerable populations.
Werklund School researchers are re-examining the methods and theories that have shaped teaching and learning for generations, while historically marginalizing Indigenous people and perspectives. Today, many of our scholars are working towards a curriculum in which all people belong. In their research, they are incorporating different ways of knowing, being and doing, all essential to the process of decolonizing and Indigenizing education.
Researchers at Werklund are exploring communication through the multi-faceted dimensions of literacy, and linguistic and cultural diversity, especially as they relate to different forms of expression, including print, visual, oral, and gestural texts, as well as new literacies and digital media.
Leadership researchers at the Werklund School are analysing and resolving educational policy and leadership issues specifically related to the direction and management of schools, school systems, post-secondary institutions, and both governmental bodies as well as non-governmental organizations concerned with public and private education.
At Werklund, researchers are advancing the holistic needs of children, ensuring they thrive from child to adolescent and into emergent adult, in their schools, homes and communities at large. From early learning, to social emotional learning, and in consideration of neurodiversity, researchers are redefining how teachers, school psychologists and counselling psychologists support lifelong learners.
Werklund School researchers are doing pioneering work in the area of neurodiversity, studying developmental cognitive neuroscience, neurodevelopmental disorders, early experience and brain development.
Researchers at Werklund are exploring the way education intersects with the broader society, and how it necessarily informs and influences political, economic and social systems.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are among the foundational building blocks of education. At Werklund, researchers are reimagining these core subjects while developing teaching and learning initiatives that are responsive to and reflective of the rapid changes requiring societies to be more nimble and adaptable.
Research Professorships and Chairs
Canada Research Chair in Creativity and STEM
Dr. Jennifer Adams, in a joint-appointment to the Faculty of Science, integrates research on teaching and learning with methods for transforming teaching practices in undergraduate education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Her goal is to increase the creative capacity of STEM learners, as well as their participation in STEM fields and their contributions to decision-making around socio-scientific issues.
Canada Research Chair in Language and Literacy Education
Dr. Kimberley Lenters' research focuses primarily on ways in which socio-material perspectives of literacy may be utilized to understand and enhance children's literacy development across their terrains of home, community, and school.
Design-Based Learning Research Professorship
Dr. Douglas B. Clark investigates how people learn STEM concepts, skills, and practices. Dr. Clark's research explores designs of physical and digital learning environments to support and motivate those learning processes. He focuses primarily on inquiry, design, problem solving, critical thinking, explanation, argumentation, digital inquiry environments, discussion environments, digital games, and collaboration.
Masculinities in Education Research Professorship
Dr. Michael Kehler draws on feminist theory in his research addressing gender identities, and specifically masculinities, which he argues are fluid, socially constructed and related to power relations. This research examines and raises critical questions about injustices and inequities in societies,and interrogates issues of power as they emerge from how masculinities are navigated and constructed in daily interactions.
Werklund Research Professorship - Counselling Psychology
Dr. Shelly Russell-Mayhew focuses on the prevention of eating-related issues particularly in school contexts. Dr. Russell-Mayhew considers risk and protective factors, while integrating prevention with the promotion of mental wellness and resiliency.
Werklund Research Professorship - Mathematics Education
Dr. Brent Davis focuses his research in mathematics and the structures and experiences that might support mathematics learning among teachers. His current research looks at how the culture of mathematics learning can be transformed at the school level.
Werklund Research Professorship - Critical Youth Studies
Dr. Shirley Steinberg studies the cultural/social/educational development of youth, and critical community involvement. She is concerned with how society views young people, and her work creates an environment in which youth are viewed as positive democratic agents within society. As a Research Chair, she has established an international network of youth and community workers engaged in a critical pedagogical approach to activism and education.
Werklund Research Professorship - Critical Literacy and Civil Democracy
Dr. Maren Aukerman's research examines how young children interact, think and evolve as readers, using a lens of social justice to understand the meaning-making practices of children, including when they differ substantially from those of their teachers. Rather than view these diverse ideas and opinions as wrong, she considers them a resource.
Werklund Research Professorship - Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
Dr. Rahat Zaidi studies the intimate connection between language, culture and identity, and uses her scholarship to underscore the untapped power within diversity to advance social justice, equity and inclusion in immigrant and transcultural contexts.
Autism Spectrum Education, Research and Training Group
The ASERT group consists of researchers, clinicians, and other professionals, under the direction of Dr. Adam McCrimmon, who are interested in understanding autism spectrum disorders, promoting resiliency and positive development, and improving the lives of individuals on the spectrum.
Body Image Lab
Leading and transforming research about weight-related issues like body image, disordered eating, weight-related disorders and professional conversations and interactions about weight.
The Enhance Lab
A collaborative effort between the Werklund School, the Mathison Centre, and the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, Dr. Carly McMorris leads the Enhance Lab in improving the lives of children and their families through better understanding neurodevelopment, health, and child education. In researching neurodevelopmental disorders and the physical and mental health problems that commonly occur alongside them, the lab addresses the broad range of complex issues these individuals and their families face.
Centre for Wellbeing in Education
The Centre for Wellbeing in Education is a multi-faceted, dynamic unit within the Werklund School of Education. Its primary mandate is to provide a centre of excellence in research, education and service through a coordinated holistic vision for the wellbeing of children, youth and transition-age youth (ages 4-25).
The Centre for Wellbeing in Education offers high-quality psychoeducational assessments and interventions for children and adolescents through our Integrated Services program.
Math Minds is a research partnership led by Dr. Brent Davis, in collaboration with JUMP Math, the Calgary Catholic School District and Golden Hills School Division, with the goal of improving mathematics instruction at the elementary level. The initiative addresses current challenges in math education by stepping beyond the polarity of the math wars, with strong results including sustained improvement in performance with a particular postive impact on understanding and problem solving, as well as student confidence.
Partner Research Schools
By creating opportunities for partners to work together on innovative initiatives, the Werklund School is impacting students in schools and supporting their learning through evidence-informed practice. Researchers work alongside partners to design meaningful research activities. The research is collaborative and mutually beneficial to all partners with practical applications.
Social Development Research Team
A team of graduate student researchers, under the direction of Dr. Kelly Schwartz, is studying different aspects of social development across the lifespan and conducting research that aims to improve the well-being of individuals through the identification and removal of barriers, as well as the identification of strengths and protective factors.
Teachers of Tomorrow
The Teachers of Tomorrow initiative, led by Dr. Shelly Russell-Mayhew in collaboration with EverActive Schools, proposes an upstream approach to addressing student well-being through the issue of teacher preparedness, situating it both as a factor with immediate student impact and as a critical lever of systemic change utilizing an approach of Comprehensive School Health.