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UBC Theses and Dissertations

In search of the butterfly effect : an intersection of critical discourse, instructional design and teaching practice House, Ashley Terell

Abstract

In this study I explored the research questions, how do students understand membership in a community and the responsibilities of our various locations and what pedagogical rationales and practices move students from awareness of social injustice towards acting to transform the societal structures that reinforce injustice? This project engaged in a critical and classroom action research using ethnographic tools with a class of Grade 7 students from a Vancouver elementary school. The purpose was to create spaces in curriculum for student initiated social justice oriented actions while testing a pedagogy founded in student inquiry, criticality and praxis. This was an experiment in applying critical discourse to instructional design. While teaching about social justice issues, the teacher- researcher sought to employ the principles of social justice in the pedagogy as well as the methodology of this study. The methodology sought to be consistent with the principles of social justice through attempting to create a collaborative critical research cohort with students through using data collection to foster a dialogic relationship between teacher- researcher and students. The data collection was in the forms of teacher and student generated fieldnotes, a communal research log, photography, questionnaires, interviews and written reflections. The findings from this research were analyzed through the themes of teacher tensions, constructs of student and teachers, and resistance. The analysis of the data provided opportunities for identifying power dynamics within the concepts being critiqued, exploring the makings of the cognitive unconscious and entering into a dialogic relationship with students about official and hidden curricula. Conclusions drawn from this research included that the experiment of teaching and researching for social justice in a socially just manner requires not only a grounding in theory and an awareness of the normative discourse, but an investigation of and critical reflection on those social constructions of teacher and student that are deeply embedded in the collective cognitive unconscious of the classroom. Teacher tensions and student resistance are productive as they provoke awareness of these constructions and their effects on the classroom.

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