Theses + Dissertations

Michalovich, A. (forthcoming). Participatory Video with Youth from Refugee and Immigrant Backgrounds in a Metro Vancouver Secondary School [PhD dissertation]. University of British Columbia


Blanch Zelada, D. (2020). Supporting refugee- and migrant-background students in a Canadian elementary classroom: Challenges and promising teaching practices [MA thesis]. University of British Columbia.

Abstract: Canada has a long history of resettlement of refugee and protected persons, and between 2015 and 2019, over 225,000 were resettled (IRCC, 2020). Many refugee background newcomers to Canada (42%) are school-aged children and youth, including students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) (IRCC, 2017); many have experienced triple trauma due to forced migration, during transition, and upon resettlement in Canada (Stewart et al. 2019). This lack of opportunity to attend school and traumatic experiences presents daunting challenges for refugee-background students and their teachers who may lack resources and preparation to meet their complex needs (Stewart et al., 2019). This study seeks to contribute to better understandings in this area through its exploration of what an expert elementary school educator, together with her team-teaching colleagues, perceived as the challenges and successful approaches to language and literacy education for Grade 6/7 refugee-and-migrant background students (RMBS). The study also explored the potential of multiliteracies pedagogies to leverage the multimodal communicative repertoires of RMBS, as they engaged in a cross-curricular unit of study in their mainstream Grade 6/7 classroom. The theoretical frameworks drawn from were a socio-cultural perspective of literacy, multiliteracies pedagogy and learning by design, as well as conceptions of identity and investment. Data was gathered through field notes, participant observation, audio recording of classroom interactions, student artifacts and texts, and semi-structured focus groups and teacher interviews. The data collected was inductively and deductively thematically analyzed. Findings illuminated the teaching team of expert educators’ perceptions of the challenges of working with RMBS students, as well as successful educational approaches to support RMBS and enhance their achievement. The findings also contributed to a better understanding of the development of innovative pedagogical practices that engage and enhance these youths’ full communicative repertoires and identities towards academic achievement, social and emotional learning, and literacy engagement.

Ferreira, J. (2020). Learning English and Science at Play: Threads of Meaning Making and Identities [MA thesis]. University of British Columbia.

Abstract: In recent years, there has been a staggering increase of forcibly displaced people worldwide. Upon arrival in the host country, migrant and refugee-background children (MRBC) may be particularly at risk due to the challenge of adjusting to a new language, school culture, and sociocultural changes. In this context, this research aimed to shed light on the language and content-area learning of MRBC in a community elementary school in Greater Vancouver, BC. By using an inductive thematic analysis, this multiple-case study sought to understand how three Grade 2/3 learners could enhance academic language proficiency and science learning while foregrounding aspects of their identities through various playful practices. Theoretical frameworks included sociocultural perspectives on literacy, a pedagogy of multiliteracies, conceptions of play, and identity. Data encompassed field notes, photos and videos of in-class activities, artifacts, and interviews with students and their teachers. Findings suggest that the three MRBC learned about the importance of water and its cycle through multimodal meaning-making, which entailed engaging in a meaning-making flow, creating hybrid narratives of new knowledge, and learning collaboratively. The three MRBC also foregrounded aspects of their identities in multimodal productions, such as their sense of belonging, lifeworld experiences and agentic imagined identities. This research responded to a gap in the literature about MRBC’s literacy education in content-area subjects in Canadian mainstream classrooms; it also demonstrated how playful practices can give rise to synesthetic learning and open doorways to MRBC’s wealth of lifeworld knowledge and agentic identities in a science classroom.

This website showcases a research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Insight Grant no. 435–2017-0338). The study has been reviewed by the UBC Behavioral Research Ethics Board (Certificate no. H17-01074), and the procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects.

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