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Theme 1.3: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Learning

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Research conducted under this theme addresses the following:

  1. Questions about the purposes of education — what is to be learned and why, as well as, the broader societal implications of these choices.
  2. A commitment to critique dominant approaches to learning.
  3. An emphasis on the importance of learners’ lived experiences.
  4. An openness toward alternative and radical approaches to learning, with an eye to social transformation.


Disinformation and adherence to conspiracy theories

Through various subsidized projects, Dr. Carignan, in her capacity as UNESCO-PREV Chair, is studying different aspects of the phenomena of disinformation and conspiracy theories such as the ways adhesion to theories takes place, the links between this belief and sympathy for victims of violence, or the behaviour of people who share conspiracy theories online. With this extensive research, which is looking at these phenomena in 8 different countries, the team hopes to better understand the conditions of the concerning rise of conspiratorial thought. This will be crucial information for future interdisciplinary work on how to deal with the phenomenon.

ResearcherMarie-Ève Carignan

Fictional Awareness and Reality Literacy

Dr. Nelson has identified that not only do people need to decide between what is fact or fiction (as a genre), but they must also contend with intentional misinformation (lies). This area of research elaborates on discursive and analytical tools for the cultivation of fictional awareness and reality literacy by studying the relationship between science and aesthetics, what Nelson calls Baroque Science Fiction. This includes the study of reception as it relates to the conscious and unconscious influence of social identities. It also promotes the importance of the humanities for understanding and affecting in a positive way the breakdown of public discourse and the public sphere in our current media-saturated, siloed, and atomized social and political camps. Nelson is interested in the ability of people, in general, to distinguish between (scientific) fact, fiction, and lies in ways that lead to more equitable and socially just human relations. Nelson’s discursive and analytical tools may support students and educators in recognizing information silos in which everything can seem true.

ResearcherBrad Nelson

Homeschooling Practices Among Montreal’s Ultraorthodox Jewish Communities

Since 2018 this project has focused on the implementation of new regulations for home education and the impact of this regulatory framework on Hasidic Jewish communities in Montreal, both pedagogically and socially.

The project has two main components: 1- Documenting the pedagogical practices through which the various initiatives put in place encourage Hasidic boys to complete their secular education, as well as a mapping of the social representations of the parents and staff who attend and work in these centers. 2- An analysis of the regulatory and legal frameworks, as well as their media treatment, which allow these various centers to offer their services to home-educated children.

An international perspective will be added to a historical analysis of the legal framework, in order to better understand the legislative approaches chosen by the Quebec government as well as how the particular context of Montreal's ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities was considered when developing this new legislation.

ResearcherBruce Maxwell

Intellectual Disability, Student Agency, and Inclusive Education

In this research area, Dr. McDonough examines different conceptions of intellectual disability and how these impact educators’ perceptions of and interactions with students labelled as intellectually disabled. He also interrogates the concept of democratic citizenship, asking how we might challenge current understandings to include students with intellectual disabilities. There is presently a widespread presumption that specific linguistic capabilities are required for deliberation in political matters, and that the absence of such capabilities indicates a lack of democratic capability. When transferred to school settings, this presumption denies certain children important opportunities for citizenship education. McDonough’s work challenges this presumption by addressing often neglected or overlooked forms of political activity where people who lack certain linguistic capabilities or capacities for abstract reasoning can and do participate. For a discussion on the role of educational paternalism and its effects on students’ epistemic agency, especially as it pertains to students labelled with intellectual disabilities, see the article, Disabling Intervention: Intellectual Disability and the Justification of Paternalism in Education.

ResearcherKevin McDonough

Interventions to counter gender stereotypes in pre-school and kindergarten students

Dr. Plante's project involves the development of activities that vehiculate a message countering gender stereotypes and encouraging a plurality of gender performance (i.e. ways of “being” a boy or a girl) for pre-school and kindergarten students. These classroom interventions will be tested by and with domain specialists from teachers to academic advisers to determine whether they have a greater effect than what is currently being done in classes. This project is of great social and educational pertinence, as it seeks to prevent gender differences in stereotyped fields or influences on performance/interest.

ResearcherIsabelle Plante

K-12 teacher free expression

Dr. Waddington has been conducting research on teacher free expression since 2010, when he became interested in the case of Richard Morin, a PEI teacher who had fought a successful but ultimately pyrrhic legal battle for his right to a reasonable degree of free expression in the classroom. Since that time, the research team, which includes fellow CSLP member Kevin McDonough, has greatly expanded the scope of the project, analyzing the philosophical, legal, and empirical dimensions of teacher free expression within the classroom. The team is currently working on several distinct projects, including a survey of American and Canadian teachers’ classroom practices, as well as a qualitative project involving interviews with teachers who have been involved in free expression controversies. This project has received support from the Centre for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin.

ResearcherDavid Waddington

Post-method Teacher Training

Dr. Querrien’s Montreal-based project focuses on French as a Second Language (FSL) teacher training. This project is in its third year of using integrative strategies to help train pre-service and in-service teachers in a post-method approach which entails a context-embedded vision of meeting students' needs. A “one size fits all approach” can no longer be accepted if teachers are to respond effectively to globalization and a plurilingual reality of the 167 languages spoken in Montreal. As such, Querrien’s research documents teacher training closely to examine how teachers engage or disengage with the training with a particular focus on challenging traditionally held beliefs about language learning in a way that fosters respect and understanding.

ResearcherDiane Querrien

Reconfiguring Political Space

Following the publication of his book Ces évangéliques derrière Trump : hégémonie, démonologie et fin du monde in 2020, Dr. Gagné’s research pursues the questions: is there a way for conservative Christian groups, such as evangelical Protestants, to exercise political expression?; and, how might we need to reconfigure space so that such groups feel heard and free to express opinions that are often otherwise not welcomed in secular society?

Parallels between Gagné’s research and education are easily drawn, especially as Quebec adopts secularism. How do educational stakeholders promote secularism while respecting religious diversity? What is the dominant discourse in schools regarding religion, and are there spaces that encourage the expression of differing worldviews? Educational stakeholders can glean important insight from Gagné’s research on what possibilities lie ahead if a population is unable to express themselves and is pushed to the margins of society.

Funded by a SSHRC Connection Grant, Gagné was involved in the creation of 7 podcast episodes for the series "Darts and Letters," which is produced by Cited Media. These episodes were created with the general public in mind and focus on examining how radical right-wing movement political philosophies have earned such a following.

ResearcherAndré Gagné

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