Faculty of Education -- PhD Dissertations

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    Understanding Nursing Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Narrative Inquiry and Art. A Feminist Exploration in Educational Research
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2023-07) Flegg, Carol A.
    The resilience and retention of nurses is a complex and urgently compelling phenomenon in the global context, made even more critical given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative research on nursing resilience is an under-researched topic, particularly within nurses’ personal stories of resilience. This study incorporated narrative inquiry and arts-based research seen through the lens of a feminist theoretical framework. It explored the stories of nursing resilience told from the perspective of four public health nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the spirit of Connelly and Clandinin (1990), the focus of this narrative inquiry is not only on the individual's experience but also on the social, cultural, and institutional narratives within each individual’s experiences that are derived, shaped, expressed, and enacted. The stories of nursing resilience were shared in group discussions, one-on-one interviews focused on conversations and artistic collages with artist statements. This research wove together stories of nursing resilience and elucidated the impact of emotional labour, camaraderie, mentorship, and self-care on the developmental process of resilience. The positive effects of feeling valued within the power structure in nursing are highlighted. Higher education curricula do introduce the concept of nursing resilience, but the focus in nursing education programs is on medical and technical knowledge. There are many factors which are influencing the need for nurses to be more resilient in the workplace, nursing students will need to learn much more about this subject and how it can impact them both personally and professionally. Implications for further research on mentorship, the group effect of research and the therapeutic nature of storytelling through art are illuminated.
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    An Exploration of Early Reading Instruction: Listening to the Voices of Early Elementary Teachers in a Pandemic
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022-09-11) Hollis, Heather
    Children who do not learn to read by Grade 3 face increased barriers to achieving basic levels of literacy. The purpose of this dissertation was to determine how early elementary classroom teachers are instructing their students in reading and to identify supports they believed were necessary to help more students learn to read. This qualitative study, set in the midst of a global pandemic, involved focus groups and semi-structured individual interviews with 11 early elementary teachers from Atlantic Canada. The data was analyzed using constructivist grounded theory. Study findings indicated that half the teachers expressed low self-efficacy around the use of reading instruction that requires a systematic, explicit approach to teaching phonological and phonemic awareness. While the research demonstrates that this type of instruction is essential for some students and beneficial for most, studies have shown that not all teachers have the education or training necessary to teach using this approach. The participants in this study recommended that phonological and phonemic awareness, as well as the instructional methods necessary to teach these concepts, be offered both in pre-service teacher education and through on-going in-servicing. Participants described being flexible with their instructional methods, when necessary, to ensure student understanding. The results of this study will be beneficial to educators and policy makers as they illustrate some of the challenges early elementary teachers face when teaching early reading. Recommendations are also suggested for policy makers and schools of education to address these challenges.
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    The Discursive Construction of ISIS Identity: A Critical Discourse Analytic Study of ISIS Textbooks
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022) Kharbach, Mohamed
    Over the last few years, ISIS terrorism has been the subject of a growing interdisciplinary scholarship, one that was disproportionately focused on the group‘s media discourse covering topics such as ISIS propaganda, its recruitment and communication strategies, the group’s use of digital technologies and social media, among others. However, unlike its media discourse, ISIS textbook discourse received scant research attention. The present study seeks to address this gap by shifting the analytic focus to the group’s curricular materials. The purpose was to explore the ‘pedagogic’ dimension of ISIS terrorism through the study of ISIS textbooks using an identitybased critical discourse analytic framework. To this end, five ISIS textbooks were analyzed. Analysis was conducted at two levels: the narrative level and the discursive level. Findings highlighted three main identity models embedded in ISIS textbook discourse: the collective identity model, the religious identity model, and the jihadi identity model. Drawing on the interpretative framework of social identity theory, these models were found to be at the core of a divisive social categorization process used the by the terrorist group to create an antagonistic and dichotomous worldview, one in which the Other is demonized and vilified. ISIS terrorism, this study concluded, is identity-based and draws on the canonical power of a highly religious curricular discourse to indoctrinate young learners and to manufacture future jihadist.
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    Remix + Praxis: A Rapademic Approach to Critical and Culturally Relevant Education
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022) McGuire, Michael Douglas
    A decade ago, the province of Nova Scotia identified what it designated as achievement gaps—a significant disparity in scholastic performance for Black and Indigenous students relative to those of European descent as a result of longstanding Euro-centrism in educational spaces. This led to a number of calls for culturally relevant pedagogical approaches to be adopted as a means of combatting the negative trend. In the intervening years, however, educators have struggled to find ways to make this a reality. This dissertation makes use of a combined autoethnographic and songwriting-based method to detail the author’s efforts to bring his educational practices in line with culturally relevant and responsive pedagogies. Through a critical hip hop lens, a praxis-based method for curriculum development takes shape, presenting a pathway toward liberatory educational experiences that can be adapted to virtually any cultural context to the benefit of both teachers and students. Borrowing from the hip hop practice of remixing, the author outlines a method that gives educators an opportunity to continually reimagine and realign their curricula in a way that encourages student-centered critical education and adaptable curricular planning. While this dissertation outlines the author’s journey in coming to develop a hip hop-based pedagogy, it presents a praxis-based method that can be achieved through any number of approaches. While this is not presented as the definitive model for culturally relevant and responsive education, it offers an autoethnographic look at one way of attaining those goals.
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    A Lunenburg County Settler’s Account of Her Role and Responsibility in Decolonization
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022-03-10) Knickle, Margaret J. A.
    The goal of this study was to contribute to decolonization through an examination of a settler's recent decolonizing initiatives. This study examines the role of the author and her responsibility in decolonization, truth and reconciliation, and ways to practise Indigenous allyship authentically. The focus of this study is on the Mi'kmaw Peoples of Atlantic Canada and their traditional Mi'kmaw territory known as Mi'kma'ki. The work for this thesis involved particular attention to Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, where the author and her family have lived since European settlers arrived in 1753. The project required the personal exploration of the biases and prejudices of the author that stemmed from her upbringing, which the European Canadian white supremacist patriarchal colonial ideology heavily influenced. An additional feature was an examination of the mechanisms that supported the invention of the settler identity, such as myths and stereotypes and the erasure of the Mi'kmaw’s longstanding existence in Lunenburg County. Another aspect of this dissertation is the documentation of the Mahone Bay Museum's decolonizing initiatives and what the author learned as a volunteer on the museum's decolonizing committee. During the short time of working together, the committee was able to highlight the plethora of Mi'kmaw history in Lunenburg County. Honouring the Mi'kmaw perspective of local history is an essential piece of this work because it disrupts and challenges local colonial discourse. This Mi'kmaw-settler way of understanding shared history also supports the transformation of personal, local/community, regional, and decolonial initiatives. The crux of this study lies in following an Indigenous research paradigm that emphasizes a holistic learning process and the importance of emotional learning, a perspective that traditional western objective approaches to research generally overshadow. An Indigenous research paradigm also held the author and all aspects of this work accountable to Indigenous ways of knowing. The types of Indigenous methodology that guided this study included practising relationships from an Indigenous perspective and incorporating Jo-ann Archibald's Storywork Principles to build and maintain Indigenous-Settler relationships, to name a few.Part of this work was an examination of the relationship between the European colonialization of Canada, the colonial narrative and settler identity, on the one hand, and their juxtaposition with white supremacy and racism, and how these discriminatory norms continue to play out across every aspect of Canadian society today, on the other. Integral to understanding these contemporary connections is also the role and responsibility of the author in combattingracism today. Lastly, the author believes this work can facilitate strengthened peace and friendly relations between the Mi'kmaq and settlers as well as promote their shared responsibility to represent the history of Canada in a way that supports reconciliation. The intention is the development of transformative education that produces constructive social change and applies to other educational institutions, such as public schools and universities.