Research at EDCP

In the Department of Curriculum & Pedagogy, our scholarly work is animated by the complexities and particularities of learning and teaching. For us, the study of curriculum and pedagogy comprises a diversity of disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological approaches. The focusing of these diverse lenses on the study of education allows us to achieve a multi-layered approach to complex questions and brings a richness and texture to our scholarly community.

We invite you to explore some of the research projects outlined here, to see how EDCP’s scholarship advances theory, enhances practice, and benefits learning communities in British Columbia and around the world.

Why do we conduct research?

A large part of the scholarly activity we pursue in EDCP is motivated by a desire to bring about the betterment of society, particularly for those who may be marginalized by traditional structures and methods. Transformative Education for Aboriginal Mathematics–Learning (TEAM-Learning), for example, is a collaborative project working with students, parents, teachers, and community members to improve mathematics teaching and learning for Aboriginal students. TEAM-Learning explores the development of culturally responsive pedagogy—a way of teaching that honours, builds upon, and draws from students’ mathematical thinking, the field of mathematics, and students’ culture and community. TEAM-Learning  is a partnership with Haida Gwaii Nation and School District, Nisga’a Nation and School District, the Vancouver School Board, and the University of British Columbia, with international collaboration with Universities of Waikato and Auckland, New Zealand.

How does educational research make a difference?

The notion of “education” encompasses learning across the lifespan, in spaces inside and outside the classroom. Because of this, educational researchers are concerned with learning wherever it occurs, in a variety of spaces and contexts, in any form and with any media.

The Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm Project, for example, provides opportunities for urban schoolchildren to gain farm experience in a unique initiative that focuses on agriculture and food as the link between a healthy environment and human well-being. The project brings together elementary students and their “farm friends,” a group of community elders with farming experience, at the UBC farm to plant, tend, and harvest crops, learning about environmental stewardship as they learn about food production.

By uniting generations in a community learning initiative, this program illustrates the value of lifelong learning, community mindedness, ecological and social citizenship, and civic responsibility. These are values that are difficult to communicate in schools and classrooms and are best learned through personal experience.

Five exciting research projects in EDCP

Benchmarks of Historical Consciousness

What should students know after 12 years of studying history in school? What should they be able to do with their knowledge? Surely they should have more than an accumulation of memorized facts to show for years of study. The Benchmarks Project combines the research of historians and educators with the experience and skills of classroom teachers to create practical ways of encouraging historical thinking in realistic classroom settings. Benchmarks provides social studies departments, local boards, provincial ministries of education, and public history agencies with models of more meaningful history assessment for their students and audiences.

The City of Rich Gate: Research and Creation within Community-Engaged Arts Practices

Community cultural development begins from the premise that the arts are powerful forces for encoding cultural values and in so doing, allow for deeper experiential meanings to emerge, be explored, and acted upon. Skilled artists are able to bring vibrant creativity and socio-cultural consciousness to their work and through their sensitivity, imagination, empathy, and artistic abilities help communities grapple with issues of identity and belonging within particular landscapes created through environmental and socio-cultural/historical interplays. This study is uniquely situated in the City of Richmond, BC, a city that has recently come to represent east meeting west, the Pacific Rim meeting Canada, farm land meeting urban landscapes.

The study offers an opportunity for research-creation to occur around these themes while also refining a new arts-based research methodology called a/r/tography. To be engaged in the practice of a/r/tography is to inquire into a phenomenon through an ongoing process of artmaking and writing while acknowledging one’s role as artist [a], researcher [r] and teacher [t]. more

East African Students’ Ways of Knowing in Science Discourses

The study investigates East African students’ Ways of Knowing in the context of science curriculum implemented through a program that integrates experiences of the Jua Kali (an informal sector of small-scale manufacturing and technology-based services) activities with conventional classroom science. The study elucidates a rich appreciation and understanding of the African learner and the outcomes are instrumental to reforms of the Kenyan education system.

Learning Sciences and Technologies Research Lab
Funded by: Canada Foundation for Innovation and BC Knowledge Development Fund (2008)

This project aims to establish a facility for studying how qualities of new technologies and new modes of engagement affect learning. The interaction of these two variables is fundamentally changing the process of learning in formal and informal environments. Whereas in the not too distant past Canadians could draw lines between how, when, and where they were learning and not learning, nowadays flexible or mobile devices offer the potential for learning virtually anything, anywhere, at any time. One implication is that the “basic” skill set of competencies and literacies required by a capable student or citizen is evolving. Another implication is that emphases are shifting in business and education to the process of learning, or meta-learning. Commentators increasingly identify various activities outside classrooms (e.g., gaming, mobile device texting and recording) as indicative that the qualities of new technologies and new modes of engagement are changing the process of learning (Jenkins et al., 2007), but there is little empirical evidence. The interaction of these two primary variables is fundamental to the learning sciences but is poorly understood, and experimental research is urgently needed to help educators and managers take advantage of the technologies.

How We Learn (Technologies Across the Lifespan) Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2006–09) 

The purpose of this research is to follow, describe and explain how children, adolescents, teens, adults and older adults learn to use new technologies for everyday activities. Researchers continue to document what, which or why technologies are assimilated into everyday routines of children, adolescents, teens, adults and families. Our research problem is to investigate how this is happening; the emphasis is on how we learn. How are cognitive processes distributed across new technology environments? How do pre-school (3-6 yrs) and adolescent (7-12 yrs) children learn to use or play with robotic and other electronic pets and toys? How do teens (13-18 yrs) learn to accommodate new digital devices or play new videogames? How do young adults (19-40 yrs) and middle years adults (41-65) learn to accommodate new technologies in work routines? How do older adults (66-85) learn to adopt new technologies into their health and entertainment regimens? We draw from Hutchins’ (1995, 2000) theory of distributed cognition and method of cognitive ethnography to study how people differentially assimilate new technologies into everyday routines (a steady pool of 6–10 participants per each of 6 age cohorts over a 3-year period). 

An ethical chasm: Jurisprudence, jurisdiction and the literacy profession

Having produced, directed, and edited a film written by Rob Tierney that deals with the issues of literacy, policy, and standards as an educational research project, my doctoral thesis is an attempt to further our understanding of film as educational research methodology and pedagogy. I am analyzing this film, alongside two others I have made as an artist-researcher, through several contemporary film theories anchored in cognitive semiotics. The analyses will be the interrelatedness of what is on screen (filmic grammar), within the diegesis (story), and without (beyond the frame), which will explain film’s specificity (artistic interlocution and communication) as being particularly conducive to educational research. The study will also offer a means by which to design and analyze film texts to advance the scholarly understanding of film in education.

Here is my website and trailer of the movie.

Anne-Marie LaMonde