UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Circumnavigating education to re-envision learning and re-think teaching at a small secondary school : a case study Marshall-Peer, Desiree Thelma


This case study explores the potential for change within a small rural secondary school facing declining enrolment. Through participatory action research, a teacher-researcher examines the implementation of a school-wide pedagogical approach emphasizing project-based inquiry. Combining multi-age cohorts of students using competency-based assessment and inquiry-based teaching and learning across a multidisciplinary curriculum, students and educators found greater flexibility and choice. Data sources drew on quantitative and qualitative mixed methods and included surveys, journals, interviews, artefacts of learning, and the documentation of teacher and student experiences. Quantitative data analysis entailed using Likert questions in student surveys, followed by graphical analysis using Excel. Qualitative data analysis entailed key word coding to determine emergent themes. Positive, negative and neutral attributes were subsequently tied to observations, interviews and journaling of teachers. Dominant themes across all data sources reflected positive effects on teaching practices, teacher autonomy, and student agency for learning. Specifically, findings indicated teachers and students found the learning environment cultivated through project-based inquiry to be favourable when compared to traditional classrooms, while supporting the needs and abilities of students at all stages of mastery. Students reported being more empowered within their own learning, while teachers described how curricular enactment re-engaged their own learning and passion for teaching. Critical and creative student thinking manifested over time and enabled teachers and the greater community to feel confident that students were gaining the needed skills and capacities for their futures, given a changing knowledge economy. The teacher-researcher observed how the changes to the school and classroom structure focusing on competencies rather than prescriptive content, productively affected the personal learning journeys of all individuals. School attendance was greatly enhanced and students, teachers, and the community relayed belongingness to the school that holds potential for sustained school growth.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada