Week 8
Home Up Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12


Brock Lakehead Western Windsor
Colloquium Sitemap BrockWebCT Joint-PhD Website help@jointphdined.org
Resources   PhD Handbook WebCT Lakehead
Nancy Lorraine



Abstract (Nancy)

Exploring how Teachers and Administrators

Make Sense of Tension

In recent years, the education system has undergone significant reform. Pressures in the form of funding cuts, legislative changes, and restructuring initiatives have dominated attention and activities within Ontario schools (PC Educational Reforms, 2003). These pressures trigger tensions related to several aspects of school functioning, including school restructuring, teacher development, and improvement in student learning (Imants et al., 2001). Initial response to reform has focused primarily upon the organizational structures of schools (Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996) rather than on what occurs within those structures (Elmore et al., 1996). Changing organizational structure is important, however it is not synonymous with changing beliefs, assumptions, or behavioural patterns. While there has been some attention given to social relations among teachers and administrators, and the ways that those relations affect teaching performance (Smylie & Hart, 1999), there is limited theoretical study of tension and other aspects of performance. The purpose of this study is to explore how individual teachers and administrators have encountered, interpreted, made sense of, and constructed tension into performance. The research will be conducted in one Ontario elementary school and will progress in three stages: (a) cultural-historical analysis of the particular school context, (b) grounded theory investigation of individual teachers’ and administrators’ experiences of tension within the school, and (c) participant observation of the collective interaction between teachers and administrators at school staff meetings.

This research study serves to contribute to both professional practice and scholarship in organizational theory and educational administration. The findings of this study may lead school districts to gain a deeper understanding of teacher and administrative experiences of tension to inform a process of teacher development that more closely meets their needs during times of organizational stress. The research may also be instructive to those who occupy leadership roles within local schools and school districts, as it will strengthen our understanding of the internal tensions and contradictions characterizing individual and social levels change within the school system.


Abstract (Lorraine)

On-line Education for Ontario Nurses: A Critical Look at Critical Thinking

Over the last ten years, nursing in Ontario has been dramatically affected by computer and Internet-based technologies. This is demonstrated in several ways including the use of the computer for patient charting and data entry as well as for education. Given the recent proliferation of on-line nursing education strategies dedicated to assisting Ontario’s registered nurses in their pursuit of meeting the 2005 baccalaureate entrance-to-practice requirement and increasing use of on-line modules and courses to ensure that nurses are meeting their continuing professional development needs, I have chosen to investigate the following question: How does on-line instruction facilitate the development of the critical thinking skills that registered nurses require in their practice? For the purposes of this project, critical thinking will be defined as an experience of reflection through which the practitioner identifies, confronts, and resolves contradictions between theoretical and actual practice, thereby achieving more effective work (Johns, 1995, p. 230).

In my proposed study, the following will be regarded as possible indicators of critical thinking within the learning setting: interaction of the student with his or her learning colleagues and with the instructor (Anderson, 2002); discipline-specific writing activities (Colomb,1988; Elbow, 1991; Freedman, 1993); and learning and assessment activities that are “multi-logical” in nature (Morrison & Free, 2001). The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) will be used to assess nurse-learners for seven identified dispositions toward critical thinking.

The proposed methodology involves a mixed methods approach. A two-part survey will be administered to Ontario nurses who have taken one or more on-line modules/courses in the twelve month period before the survey or who are enrolled in an on-line learning module/course at the time of the survey. In Part 1 of the survey, the nurses will be asked about interaction and discipline-specific writing in their on-line experiences and about learning and assessment activities. In Part 2, nurses will complete the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI). To gather additional data and because content delivery and interaction in on-line courses tends to be text-based, the project will also include examination of the on-line writing of a small group of nurse-learners for evidence of critical thinking. These writings will be studied and analyzed according to Johns’ (1995) Model of Structural Reflection based on Carper’s (1978) well-known model of nursing education. 

In addition to the above, the project may also explore the following questions:


What technical and human supports are offered to nurse-learners to minimize frustration with technology and maximize critical thinking?  


Have these supports been tailored to respect possible gender-related learning needs of this predominantly female group?  


What writing supports are offered to enhance nurse-learners’ discipline-specific writing skills?


How important is an instructor in the fostering of critical thinking?


Anderson, T. (2002). An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. Unpublished, with permission of the author.

Carper, B. (1978). Fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Advances in Nursing Science,1(1), 13-23.

Colomb, G. (1988). Disciplinary ‘Secrets’ and the apprentice writer: The lessons for critical thinking. Institute for critical thinking: Upper Monclair, New Jersey.

Elbow, P. (1991). Reflections on academic discourse: How it relates to freshmen and colleagues, College English, 53(2), 35-155.

Freedman, A. (1993). Show and tell? The role of explicit teaching in the learning of new genres, Research in the Teaching of English 27(3), 222-251.

Johns, C. (1995). Framing learning though reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Advanced Nursing Practice, 22, 226-234.

Morrison, S. & Free, K. (2001). Writing multiple-choice test items that promote and measure critical thinking, Journal of Nursing Education, 40, 17-26.