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Brantford Master's Cohort 2007-2009 and 2010-2012

Brantford Master's Cohort 2007-2009

These projects were completed in the summer of 2009 as the culmination of two years, 2007-2009, of study by the members of the Brantford II  Brock University Master of Education cohort. The first group use the Living Educational Theory methodology and the others as the headings indicate.


Ruth Mills' Master of Education Project:

How Can I Change the Culture of a School?

My living theory action research project sought to explore and answer the question, “How can I change the culture of a school?” When a principal begins at a new school, the first thing he or she discovers about that school is the culture. This project examined the data connected to brain-based research and the connection between environmental stress and learning. It also looked at what research says about the role of
the principal in creating and sustaining a peaceful school culture. The research focused on the Roots of Empathy program and shows how this program impacted the culture of a particular school over time.

Lee Ann Nikiforuk's Master of Education Project:

What Are the Metacognitive Strategies That I Can Incorporate Into My Daily Teaching Practice and How Can I Have My Grade 4 Students Use These Strategies to Become More Aware of Themselves as Learners?

My exit project examines the generation of my living educational theory as it relates to my practice with my grade 4 students. The main purpose of this project is to examine my practice, my core values as an educator, and to use my way of knowing to improve my practice for the benefit of my students. My question required that I determine what metacognitive strategies I can use with my students to assist them to become more aware of themselves as learners. Current research strongly supports the use of metacognitive strategies in the planning and implementation of learning activities in all subject areas from the early years to post secondary education. I describe what strategies were used in specific language activities and report on how the students began to incorporate metacognition into their daily work by building self-evaluation and reflection into their academic tasks. The words of the students are presented to validate the claim that metacognition can assist students to begin to see themselves as learners. This project also attempts to demonstrate the power of reflective practice as it influenced my journey as a teacher-researcher. I share how my journals allowed me to revisit events, feelings, and thoughts to reconstruct new meanings to my experiences which enabled me to consider the programming directions that would be best for my students.

Theresa McDougald's Master of Education Project:

What Is the Nature of My Influence as an Educator and How Can I Influence Teachers to Use Assistive Technology in Daily Practice?

This action research study, in the form of a living educational theory, examined my transition from school-based learning resource teacher to system learning resource teacher for Special Education. The study explored the particular educational context of a peer coach assisting teachers in implementing assistive technology into classroom practice. The living educational theory methodology of self-study with social validation from participants allowed for an “unearthing” of my personal values and an awareness of the nature of my influence as an educator. The fruits of the inquiry have been a deeper understanding of the notion of collegiality and the creation of a living educational theory of professional care.

Carolyn Proulx-Wootton



Barkev Poladian's Master of Education Project

Change in the Life of a New Vice-Principal: The Transition From Educator to Administrator


This study investigates the transitions of four elementary school vice-principals as they describe their transitional experiences at the outset of their administrative careers.  It focused specifically on the nature their transitions, the factors that were important in positively or negatively affecting their transitions, personal understandings of their new roles and its accompanying expectations, and the challenges, supports and personal understandings achieved as each individual navigates their own transitional highway.  A review of the literature is used to inform this current study and in helping to better understand the nature of transition that occurs when teachers voluntarily change roles and enter the field of school administration. An initial analysis of change theory serves to introduce the major factors that influence transitional process. Qualitative data was collected through a single face-to-face, semi-structured interview that allowed study participants the opportunity to relate their personal experiences of their transitions.  Common findings and themes derived from the literature served to support the conclusion that the transition from teaching to administration is an intricate developmental journey that challenges previous realities and understandings of new vice-principals. In so doing, it is the hope that this study will provide individuals who are currently aspiring to change roles from teaching to administration a vehicle to better understand the nature of their own trajectories as they encounter similar transitions.  It will also serve to inform boards of education with reasons for reviewing current policies and programs in their efforts to better support new vice-principals in their transitions into their new roles.


Brantford Master's Cohort 2010-2012

The following papers and projects were created by this third cohort group in Brantford supported by the Grand Erie District School Board. In addition to students from Grand Erie, there were three students from nursing backgrounds, one from social work, one from business and one from the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board. These papers were submitted for the Exploring Approaches to Professional Development course in the spring semseter of 2011.


The following joint project of Jen Vickers-Manzin and Jan Johnston uses the Living-Theory methodology in their self-study of their nursing practices:


A Living Educational Theory of Knowledge Translation: Improving Practice, Influencing Learners, and Contributing to the Professional Knowledge Base



This paper captured our joint journey to create a living educational theory of knowledge translation (KT). The failure to translate research knowledge to practice is identified as a significant issue in the nursing profession. Our research story takes a critical view of KT related to the philosophical inconsistency between what is espoused in the knowledge related to the discipline of nursing and what is done in practice. Our inquiry revealed usas living contradictionsas our practice was not aligned with our values. In this study, we specifically explored our unique personal KT process in order to understand the many challenges and barriers to KT we encountered in our professional practice as nurse educators. Our unique collaborative action research approach involved cycles of action, reflection, and revision which used our values as standards of judgment in an effort to practice authentically. Our data analysis revealed key elements of collaborative reflective dialogue that evoke multiple ways of knowing, inspire authenticity, and improve learning as the basis of improving practice related to KT. We validated our findings through personal and social validation procedures. Our contribution to a culture of inquiry allowed for co-construction of knowledge to reframe our understanding of KT as a holistic, active process which reflects the essence of who we are and what we do.





 Jan Johnston

How can I improve my practice by living my values?

I often find myself in situations that challenge my understanding of myself and others.  Though the action research process I intend to learn more about my authentic self; examine how I live my values; build confidence that will guide my professional practice and educational decision making; and explain how improving an aspect of my practice will influence others.  McNiff (2002) simply defines action research as a practical way of looking at your own work to check that it is as you would like it to be. I will examine aspects of my clinical practice as it pertains to my educational practice, to check if it is as I would like it to be. Throughout my MEd program, I have made parallels to the importance of relationships in education theory (Mezirow, 1997; Brookfield, 1987; Cranton, 2000; Dewey, 1963; Tisdell, 1998; Belenkey et al, 1986) and in my nursing practice.  Although Katz, Earl & Jaafar (2009) describe relationships as key enablers of professional learning and practice (p. 40) as well as the fabric of collaboration in the context of the school network setting, it can be translated into nursing practice. When relating to nursing practice, I see “teaching” as a way of being with a client.


Jennifer Vickers Manzin

How can I increase my authenticity in order to contribute to the development of a culture of inquiry?


 The Focus of My Inquiry

The focus of my inquiry is driven by a desire to affect positive change in my workplace, starting with my own professional development.  In the following section I offer a narrative to highlight the rationale for the evolution to my current research focus. I also share a list of operational definitions to make clear my meaning when using some key terminology in this paper. I present this account in the form of a research narrative (McNiff, 2006). It is my aim to use this narrative to make clear “how [I] have taken action to improve [my practice] by improving my learning through action research” (McNiff, 2006, p. 308). I use headings adapted from Whitehead’s action plan (as cited in McNiff, 2022) in an effort to organize my research story.

 Ingrid Blumenberg

How do my values in life intrinsically connect to my actions and how do I exercise my influence in my relations with the teachers I support?



The purpose of this paper is to explain how I have taken action to improve my own practice as an Itinerant English Language teacher by reflecting on my values and the influence I have with the teachers I support. This research as my own living educational theory of practice (Whitehead, 1989), mainly shows the process I have undertaken to find validation to my claims to know in the forms of narratives, journals, surveys to teachers and classroom observations in the area I support and through this self study. Experiencing and sharing my own educational living theory through action research, allowed me to live my values more fully in my practice and to try not to stray from them. I became more aware of what drives my life and my passions. I believe I have become a better person in this process as I live my life affirming energy by rediscovering myself in my values and trying to answer these questions: What is the purpose in my life and why is it important for me to provide a quality education to all children? How do my values in life intrinsically connect to my actions and how do I exercise my influence in my relations with the teachers I support?


Alison Senior

How can I foster a belief in self in my students?


My Inquiry

            This inquiry has been quite a journey for me.  I have been able to define my core values, and now I know what I hold true as an individual and as an educator.  I have also learned a great deal from an educational stand point, with regards to conducting my own research project, and all the work, time, and resources that are needed to complete a feat, such as an educational inquiry.  I have never before conducted an inquiry, and therefore I would like to preface this paper with the fact that this inquiry was a journey for me.  I did not know what to expect, with respect to the process or the end product.  Every part of this journey was new and allowed for a great learning opportunity. 

Because of my values and the understanding and knowledge of why I do what I do, with the context of my school community in mind, and with the quotation from John Galsworthy, continually popping up as my mantra, I formed a question for my inquiry that was the basis for the starting of my project – “How can I foster a belief in self in my students?”  I formulated this question with the students of my grade ten applied math class in mind.


Paula Dillon-Gerow

How can I improve my teaching to engage my students in reflective practice?



  I will begin my action research (AR) project with a description of my question of inquiry. How can I improve my teaching to engage my students in reflective practice?  In this inquiry, I articulate my embodied values of honesty, compassion, empathic relationships and authenticity, to provide the standards of judgment against which to test the validity of my claim to have improved my educational practice of teaching reflection.  In doing so I generate my own living theory and I will justify my inventive methodology (Dadds & Hart, 2001).  My values may be viewed as the critical standards of judgment, but they may also serve as the external critique of my work by the public to establish my research claim.  I will also claim to know that I am living my values of honesty, compassion, empathetic relationships and authenticity. I will demonstrate that, I have encouraged others with my influence of my values as demonstrated in my life affirming energy, in a positive way to enrich the profession of nursing.  I hold myself accountable in relation to these values as living standards by which I judge myself, and my actions in the world.  In this paper, I will share my past teaching of reflective practice.  I will engage in the process of action research and teach a class on reflective practice with a group of level three nursing students. I will share evidence of living my values through the narrative of conversations I have had with the students in the class. I will open my practice and discuss with critical friends, their experience of me and my values, and also I will accept feedback from my validation group.  I will summarize my learning and offer a clear evaluation of my lived theory and values in my teaching.


Marina Bayer

How can I demonstrate my values for nursing with students, staff and fellow cohort students?



Accountability is a value I hold. It is a part of the nrusing standards and a requirement for my role as an educator, but also for me as a nurse. Action Research fills that need for accountability, by formalizing my learning and gives a clear and justified account of my work and a continue feature of my practice.  To begin with, I had to formulate an inquiry question that would initiate my action research. I was reflecting on what was important to me, and in which way I could improve on my teaching. I want to influence the people I’m teaching and demonstrate the values through that teaching. My Inquiry question that I came up with is: “How can I demonstrate my values for nursing with students and other staff members through my teaching?”  I will use the action plan that was developed by Jack Whitehead, which was stated in McNiff’s article (2002). It states: “The aim is to encourage you, a practitioner, to ask critical questions about your own practice, and find answers for yourself. No one else can give you answers”.


 Norma Bingham


Beyond Expectations: How do my core values impact my new position as Itinerant Teacher for Educational Technology, Elementary Panel?


                  Choices.   Life is full of choices and, in my role as an educator, I am asked to make significant choices which impact my own learning as well as those with whom I work.  Just like the traveler in Frost’s poem, I face different paths and my choices govern the directions in which I go.  The paths I take, and the resulting experiences, influence my own personal and professional development. But what guides those choices I make?  This paper is my attempt to  articulate my own professional development.   Through the use of living educational theory (Whitehead, 2000) and the cycle of action research, I began to examine how I could improve my own educational practice.   Since I first began this inquiry, my guiding question has gone through many revisions as I sought to better understand the process of action research and how it related to my own professional learning.  Currently, my guiding question exists in the following format:  How do my core values impact my new position as Itinerant Teacher for Educational Technology, Elementary Panel?  If I truly do live according to my core values, those values will be reflected in my practice and will be clearly visible to those with whom I work.  A key statement for me, as cited in McNiff’s Guide to Action Research (2002), is that

            Action research is a strategy to help you live in a way that you feel is a good way.  It helps you live out the things you believe in, and it enables you to give good reasons every step of the way.

Action research, then, is a methodology which helps me explain to others why I behave the way I do and how my personal beliefs are mirrored in my actions. 







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