Since its inception in the 1950s, the Alberta Advisory Committee for Educational Studies (AACES) has made an important contribution to educational research in Alberta. The main purpose of the AACES is to encourage and financially support educational studies. It may also support publications designed to disseminate the results of educational studies. AACES currently involves a partnership among the faculties of education at the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge and the Alberta Teachers’ Association. Until recently Alberta Education (now Alberta Learning) was a contributing supporter.
A Brief History of AACESTop of page
||Founded by the University of Alberta, the Department of Education, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta School Trustee’s Association and the Home and School Association
||Founded the Alberta Journal of Educational Research
||The University of Lethbridge joins AACES
||AACES supports two thriving journals: the Alberta Journal of Educational Research and the Journal of Educational Thought
||In its first 30 years, AACES funded some 240 research projects
Guidelines for Grant ApplicationsTop of page
Am I Eligible to Apply for an AACES Grant?
- To apply for an AACES grant, an individual must be formally affiliated with one of the contributing organizations (the University of Lethbridge, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary or the Alberta Teachers' Association) in one of the following categories:
- a certificated teacher who is a member of the ATA
- Faculty of Education sessional instructor
- Faculty of Education member
- Faculty of Education professor emeritus
- Faculty of Education adjunct
- Faculty of Education post-doctoral fellow
What Types of Projects does AACES Support?
- Grants in excess of $6,000 are awarded rarely because of limited available resources.
- AACES is particularly interested in projects designed to improve teacher preparation or to benefit elementary and secondary education. Preference will be given to projects that are investigating educational issues or questions.
- Graduate students may not be the principal investigator on projects that involve their thesis or dissertation; however, graduate students involved in research funded by AACES may use part or all of the work for a university degree or course subject to the approval of the principal investigator.
- AACES will not support activities whose major purpose is to produce commercial products (such as books, texts, curriculum guides and audiovisual aids) or that are deemed to constitute professional development.
How Do I Apply for an AACES Grant?
- Download and fill out each section of the grant application form.
- Written submissions will be accepted in English or French. Proposals submitted in French require a summary of the research project in English.
- The Ethics Approval Report or the application to the Ethics Review Committee must be included with the grant application. It would be prudent to ensure the required information to complete your research project is available from the source cited in your proposal.
- Mail or deliver eight copies of the completed application form and each of the attachments to the AACES secretariat office by 4:30 pm on the published deadline
Assemble the application form and all attachments into one document, attach the document to an email and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:30 pm on the published deadline. Faxed copies will not be accepted.
How are Grant Recipients Chosen?
- AACES meets twice a year, once after the spring deadline and once after the fall deadline, to review applications that meet the above criteria. In the case of each application, the committee will rule in one of three possible ways: (a) to accept it for funding, (b) to reject it or (c) to recommend that the applicant revise and resubmit it by the next application deadline. Resubmitted proposals will be considered as part of a regular subsequent competition. Decisions of the committee are final.
What Expenditures Qualify for an AACES Grant?
- Among the expenses that AACES may reimburse, in whole or in part, for a project that has been accepted are:
- research assistants’ salaries
- telephone and postage charges
- non-capital materials costs, such as paper, pencils, tapes and film
- research-related travel expenses
- transcription costs
- consultants’ fees
- release time for school-based staff (provided that the school or school jurisdiction involved agrees to match the amount requested from AACES)
- Among the expenses that AACES will not reimburse are:
- indirect costs. Researchers are encouraged to list this item as part of the university’s funding for the proposal.
- honoraria for the principal researcher or researchers
- capital expenses exceeding $250
- travel expenses associated with attending a conference in the researcher's community.
What Happens if I Qualify for a Grant?
- Projects must be initiated within one year following the date on which the grant was approved.
- Grants funds awarded for research will not be released until AACES has received an Ethics Review Committee Approval Report. This report must be received within one year following the date on which AACES approved the grant, or the grant will be forfeited.
- Grants funds awarded for research being conducted in a school or schools will not be released until AACES has received a school district and a school approval report. This report must be received within one year following the date on which AACES approved the grant, or the grant will be forfeited.
- AACES grants will be disbursed only to an audited account on which the grant recipient may draw.
- Grant recipients are expected to complete their project within two years, although they may apply in writing to the AACES secretariat for an extension of up to one year.
- Grant recipients must submit a copy of the final report, along with an abstract of not more than 500 words, to the AACES secretariat within six months of the termination date of the project. If the final report is not received within the specified time, AACES will not consider further proposals from the principal investigator for a period of three years. AACES will also inform the dean of the relevant faculty of education or the superintendent of the relevant school jurisdiction in writing that the final report was not received by the deadline. Grant recipients who fail to meet all obligations within two years of the termination date of their grant will not be considered for future grants.
- AACES reserves the right to circulate the final reports of projects to participating organizations and interested parties.
- Grant recipients who publish articles resulting from AACES-funded research should submit a copy of their articles to the AACES secretariat.
Obtaining an Application FormTop of page
Application forms are available in writable PDF format. Simply download the form, fill it out and e-mail it to email@example.com or mail it to the following address:
Secretary, Alberta Advisory Committee for Educational Studies
c/o The Alberta Teachers' Association
106, 3016 5 Avenue NE
Calgary AB T2A 6K4
The next deadline for applications is October 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm.
To find out more about AACES, contact either of these individuals:
- Doreen Link at 403-265-2672 in Calgary (1-800-332-1280 from elsewhere in Alberta)
- Jean-Claude Couture at 780-447-9462 in Edmonton (1-800-232-7208 from elsewhere in Alberta)
Grants Approved in 2015
“A Phenomenological Investigation of Adolescent Newcomers’ Experiences of School Integration”
Anusha Kassan, Assistant Professor, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
The aim of this study is to develop an in-depth, contextual understanding of adolescent newcomers’ integration into the Canadian school system. As a large and growing segment of the population, immigrant and refugee youth play a vital role in the school fabric and future of Canada. Entrance into the school system is, for most newcomers, their first introduction to the host culture within which they reside and consequently can impact their community involvement, career pathways and contributions to society (Areepattamannil & Freeman, 2008; Rossiter & Rossiter, 2009; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001). Yet numerous studies have highlighted the diverse range of challenges that adolescent newcomers face as they enter high school in Canada (Naraghi, 2013; Ngo, 2009; Li, 2010; Stodolska, 2008). These findings point to a critical need to understand how to improve the academic and social transition of newcomer youth. Through a phenomenological research design, this study explores the phenomenon of “school integration” among newcomer youth in Calgary, thus positioning youth themselves as experts of their own experience and the types of services they need during their academic adjustment (Ngo, 2009). Participants will be recruited through a public high school in the city, which hosts numerous adolescent newcomers every year. The central research questions to be investigated in this study include (a) How do adolescent newcomers describe their integration into high school in Canada? And (b) What do adolescent newcomers need as they integrate into high school in Canada? The adolescent perspective is vital in order to expand our understanding of the challenges newcomers face at school and inform future efforts to deliver accessible, relevant and culturally sensitive resources and programs.
Grants Approved in 2014
“Examining Specific Cognitive Abilities as Potential Contributors to an Efficacious Model of Academic Intervention”
Damien C Cormier, Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Alberta
The proposed study will examine the extent to which response to an academic intervention can be predicted from a student’s specific cognitive ability to store and retrieve new information. The objective of the study is to provide a relatively brief screening procedure using a subset of cognitive tests, to distinguish between students who are likely to benefit from academic intervention, from students who should instead be immediately referred for a psycho-educational assessment. Currently, there is no process in place to distinguish these groups and, consequently, academic interventions are delivered to all struggling learners. Thus, an effective screening procedure would help reduce the likelihood of squandering limited educational resources (eg time and money) for students who are not benefitting from them. The additional benefit of a screening process is that students not expected to respond to intervention would immediately be referred for a psycho-educational assessment. Thereby allowing students with intensive needs to be identified and access supports sooner, rather than waiting 8-12 weeks for interventions to be delivered and found to be unsuccessful.
The proposed study will help to bridge an existing gap between psychologists and educators, by providing a collaborative approach to supporting struggling learners. In addition, it will provide an innovative approach to using cognitive measures in conjunction with academic interventions, which is a practice that has yet to be viewed as worthwhile in the fields of education and psychology.
“Playing on Words: Multimodal Composing in the Elementary School Classroom”
Kimberly Lenters, Assistant Professor, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
The research project for which I am currently seeking funding will engage students in an inquiry into the multimodal meaning-making potential of storybooks that employ a “scrapbook” format and lead them in the production of digital scrapbooks. Multimodal texts employ a range of communicational modalities – visual, auditory, gestural and spatial, in addition to the linguistic (written) mode. The objective of this research is to explore the potential of investigating and creating multimodal picture books for language and literacy development with learners of varying language and cultural backgrounds. This project simultaneously addresses two problems in literacy education with elementary school students – the need to instruct young students in how to better “read” and construct multimodal texts with which they interact daily in their out-of-school literacy practices and give attention to the potential support this kind of work holds for EAL students. The study proposes to address these problems through digital storytelling. Students will inquire into the kind of communicational “play” found in multimodal picture books that use a “scrapbook” format and subsequently produce their own digital scrapbooks employing digital software that incorporates a range of communicational modalities. The site has been identified and my study dovetails with the social studies unit in which Grade 4 students at the site are currently engaged with their teachers – a unit that looks at the history of Alberta and their family’s “entry” into the timeline of Alberta history.
“How is Reading Fluency Achieved?”
George Georgiou, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Alberta
Reading fluency, defined as the ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression, is undoubtedly one of the most important components of reading (Wolf & Katzir, 2001). Despite its acknowledged importance, it remains unclear how reading fluency is achieved (Kuhn, Schwanenflugel & Meisinger, 2010). In order to identify words quickly children need to have readily available, high-quality orthographic knowledge (Share, 1995; Shaywitz, 2008). However, whether this orthographic knowledge should be seen as an accumulation of word-specific knowledge or as a well-developed associate network of sub-lexical units is still under debate. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine how reading fluency is achieved by contrasting two prominent theoretical accounts of how words are processed (serial processing vs parallel processing) in three different grade levels (Grades 1, 3 and 5) and in 4 different languages (English, Greek, Chinese and Korean). The findings will have important theoretical and practical implications. In terms of theory, the findings will help us better understand how reading fluency is achieved and whether its development follows the same trajectory across different writing systems (alphabetic: English, Greek; ideographic: Chinese; alpha syllabic: Korean). In terms of the practical implications, if we gain a better understanding of how reading fluency is achieved, then we will be better equipped to develop appropriate instructional materials and intervention programs to teach it. This will directly benefit our teachers in Alberta because we plan to post instructional materials and resources related to our findings on the website of the Reading Research Laboratory at the University of Alberta. In addition, the findings will shape our teaching of preservice and inservice teachers that attend our literacy courses at the university.
Grants Approved in 2013
“A Comparison of Models Used to Identify Learning Disabilities in Reading and Mathematics”
Meadow Schroeder, Instructor, Educational Psychology, University of Calgary
Considerable work is being undertaken within Alberta schools to create inclusive learning environments in which all students are provided an opportunity to achieve their academic potential. For student needs to be met, it is important to establish a comprehensive continuum of intervention services of varying intensity. As part of this work, there is general recognition that a certain percentage of students, primarily those with learning disabilities (LD), will not respond to typical intervention services. These students require in-depth psychological assessment to determine their unique areas of strength and weakness in order to best inform intervention decisions. Unfortunately, there is an absence of consensus in the field on the best way for psychologists to diagnose LD, with a number of models currently being used. Such differing diagnostic approaches have grave consequences, resulting in inaccurate diagnoses and subsequent inconsistencies in student access to services.
The aim of this study is to build upon previous work by Cormier et al in examining differences in prevalence rates of LD using the three commonly employed diagnostic models:
a. Discrepancy Model
b. Low Achievement Model and
c. Concordance-Discordance Model
Specifically, cognitive and academic assessment scores of 200 students previously diagnosed with LD will be reviewed and analyzed using each of the three models. It is expected that results from this study will
1. add to evidence supporting significant differences in diagnostic outcomes using the three models and
2. identify strengths and limitations of each model, which will contribute to the identification of a consistent and empirically-supported approach.
“Building Teachers’ Capacity in Authentic Assessment and Assessment for Learning”
Kim Koh, Associate Professor, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
Under the vision of Inspiring Education in Alberta, students are expected to master literacy, numeracy and a range of competencies designed to enable them to become engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. The recent changes in the provincial assessments reflect the government’s initiatives to provide every child with the opportunity to master core subject areas and competencies considered essential in the 21st century. The success of these initiatives requires Alberta teachers to be competent in using authentic assessment and assessment for learning (AfL) strategies. This research aims to use a critical inquiry approach to build teachers’ capacity in authentic assessment and AfL through a school-based professional learning community (PLC). Specifically, during monthly PLC meetings, teachers in a Calgary charter school will be actively engaged in critical inquiry of the features of quality assessment. They also will be involved in analyzing the quality of assessment tasks and students’ work, using two sets of criteria for authentic intellectual quality (AIQ). The research will use a case study design. All teachers who teach Grades 4–9 in a Calgary charter school will be involved in the monthly PLC meetings. Subject-specific focus groups will be conducted before and after teachers’ participation in PLC, to examine changes in their conceptions of authentic assessment and AfL. Teachers’ assessment tasks and associated student work samples in each subject area will be randomly selected for the AIQ analysis. Findings from the study will inform assessment-related policies and planning, review and redesign of school-based PLCs.
“Access to Hands-on Math Activities in the Classroom for Children with Severe Physical Disabilities”
Kim Adams, Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta
Students who have severe physical disabilities and/or complex communication needs (CCN) are at risk of not developing a good understanding of mathematics. Current mathematics curriculum and pedagogy calls for hands-on and collaborative activities to build mathematical literacy, and this can be challenging for these children due to difficulties grasping manipulatives or limitations of their communication devices (limited vocabulary). In a previous study conducted with three children with cerebral palsy (CP) and CCN, was successful in meeting current mathematics measurement curriculum and pedagogical expectations in a one-on-one setting. Students controlled Lego robots via the student’s own communication device to participate in hands-on measurement and communicative activities. Given the importance of communication in hands-on and collaborative activities, it is essential that the next phase in our study involve inclusive peer groupings in the classroom.
This study will employ an ABA single subject research design with replication across three participants. There will be three pair groupings of a child with severe physical disabilities (eg, with CP) and a peer. The children will do mathematics lessons together with and without a robot present. We will track participation of each student as a percentage of steps of an activity accomplished by the student, and determine if there are differences between phases. In addition, the teacher will assess the student and the peer’s understanding of concepts in each session. An interview will be done with each teacher after the study regarding perceptions on robot use and its impact on the student and peers.
“Recruiting and Engaging Teachers in the Area of Health and Weight: Feasibility, Utility and Efficacy”
Shelly Russell-Mayhew, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary
Efforts have been made at both eating disorder and obesity prevention in schools, but few studies have focused on sensitizing teachers to health promotion messages that span a range of disordered eating. Adult role models play an important and influential role in the development of children’s food, weight and shape attitudes and teachers have a unique opportunity to act as positive influences on that development. Previous studies have indicated that both preservice and inservice teachers reported barriers to and discomfort with teaching health-related material finding it difficult to connect to their role as health promoters (Speller et all, 2010; Vamos & Zhou, 2009). There is also evidence that those teachers most often responsible for delivering health education ie, physical education teachers) are at an increased risk for body dissatisfactory, dieting and disorder eating (Yager & O’Dea, 2009). Further research is essential to determine the best ways to prepare preservice teachers to learn how their own attitudes, values, behaviours and interpretations related to weight, chronic disease, body image, mental and physical health may influence their day-to-day practices and impact students. A pre-post mixed methods design will be used to assess an interactive professional development workshop on preservice teachers’ values concerning body image, size acceptance and eating and physical activity related attitudes and behaviours (teachers as being), and on their self-efficacy to address weight-related issues in their teaching practices (teachers as doing). A sample of preservice teachers who were invited and/or participated in the workshop will be interviewed (as well as a number of other stakeholder participants) to understand the barriers that seem to exist in terms of prioritizing health education for preservice and service teachers and recruiting and engaging them in health-related professional development.
Grants Approved in 2012
Promoting Wellness in Pre-service Teachers
Jennifer Thannhauser, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
In Alberta, 40 per cent of beginning teachers leave the profession in their first five years of teaching (Clandinin et al, 2012). Attrition has been attributed to numerous personal and contextual factors, and very likely is a result of an interaction of such factors. In particular, teachers are at risk for high stress and burnout due to the high social and emotional demands of their job. Schaefer, Long, and Clandinin (2012) argued for a shift in perspective from retaining teachers to sustaining teachers. Socially and emotionally competent teachers are able to create and maintain classroom environments that model appropriate behavior, expression of emotions, respectful communication and problem-solving, and supportiveness and responsiveness to individual differences. One strategy for sustaining early career teachers is to promote holistic wellness in pre-service teachers, thereby equipping them with attitudes and skills that can be used to thrive in their personal and professional contexts. Wellness is the integration of mind, body, and spirit to create a greater quality of life and live more fully in one’s social and natural environments. Overall, wellness is the ability to live life to the fullest and to maximize personal potential. This study aims to assess wellness in 48 pre-service teachers from the University of Lethbridge before and after a series of five wellness workshops designed to address the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual domains of wellbeing. Developing wellness during teacher training has the potential for creating a foundation of life-long skills and attitudes needed to maintain wellness throughout a teacher’s career.
“Supporting Educator Language and Literacy Practices in Early Elementary Grades: A Professional Development Model”
Noella Piquette, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
Research indicates that students who do not acquire reading skills in grades one and two tend to remain poor readers throughout their educational trajectory. Studies have shown that educators have limited knowledge and understanding about early literacy and the role that teachers can play in extending children’s thinking and experiences. It is clear that the teaching approach to literacy underpins a child’s construction knowledge of literacy through the opportunities provided. Evidence about professional development (PD) demonstrates linkages and positive impacts between teacher PD programs and children’s literacy development. Furthermore, the most effective PD model for teachers emphasizes a sustained, long-term format including active teaching, assessment, observation, and reflection rather than abstract discussions.
The researchers proposes to develop an extended, 10-month PD model to support teachers in early grades to gain knowledge of and to subsequently teach foundational language and literacy skills (LL) to their students. The PD series will be based on the evidence-based foundational LL components set out by the National Reading Panel (2000) and the Canadian Language and Literacy Network (2008). Teachers in the Foothills School Division will be engaged in face to face meetings, video conferencing, and reflect on their practices through professional learning communities. Pre and post-tests consisting of a formal assessment and reflective journals will be analyzed through quantitative and qualitative methods for shifts in teachers’ conceptual knowledge of literacy and beliefs regarding children’s literacy development. The goal of this one year study is to promote a positive shift in the knowledge base of the early grade teachers in relation to understanding the importance of foundational literacy skills and to gain awareness of how to systematically introduce these skills to their learners. The implementation of this research is through a long term, embedded PD series in which the teachers gain knowledge regarding LL. The objective of this PD series is to improve LL acquisition through increased teacher knowledge and awareness of the literacy components and developmental trajectories, which is anticipated to have direct, positive influence on their students’ LL skill attainment.
SPARK for Learning: Effects of Daily Physical Activity on the Self-esteem, Executive Functioning, and Attention of Children with ADHD
Emma Climie, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary,
It is the desire of all teachers to support the growth of their students. Students with exceptional learning needs, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), may be particularly vulnerable and require additional supports to be successful. ADHD is a neurobiological disorder associated with an impairment of higher level cognitive functions (eg, sustaining effort and attention, organizing tasks, etc.). In school, effects of ADHD often result in behavioural or social-emotional difficulties, such as low self-confidence, anxiety, or social isolation. The implementation of a low-cost, school-wide intervention program that promotes development across cognitive, social-emotional and behavioural domains may provide an easy and effective manner in which to enhance the abilities of students.
Previous research has found that morning exercise that allows the heart rate to be at an elevated level for an extended period of time primes the brain for learning throughout the course of the day (Ratey, 2008). This exercise may be particularly beneficial for children with ADHD because it allows them to move their bodies and engage their brain for learning. The SPARK for Learning program is a 20-minute daily physical exercise program that allows students to engage in physical activity during the first period of each school day. SPARK for Learning is a school-wide initiative; all students participate in morning activities designed to increase heart rates through high-energy games. The current research will provide insight into the positive effects of this program across a number of domains. Specifically, given the results of previous research, it is anticipated that the current program will demonstrate improvement across cognitive (eg, attention), behavioural (eg, off-task activities), and social-emotional (eg, lower levels of anxiety) domains within students with ADHD and/or learning difficulties.
Pre-service Teachers’ Responses to Instruction in Motivation Interventions: Feasibility, Usage and Preferences
Lia Daniels, Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Alberta
Pre-service teachers consistently report that one of their major concerns is how to motivate their students (Lauermann & Karabenick, 2011). Ironically, research in the area of motivation has some very clear suggestions. Thus, the purpose of the current research is to link these two areas by providing pre-service teachers with an empirically validated motivation intervention with the hope of shaping their beliefs and practices related to motivation. Many motivation strategies are surprisingly easy to implement, inexpensive, and contained to a single classroom. They deal with things like helping students make adaptive attributions in the face of failure (Berkeley et al 2011) or providing students with opportunities for autonomy or choice (Reeve et al 2004). We are refining a motivation intervention that will be embedded into practicum courses during the 2012/13 academic year. We will use a pre–post quasi-experimental design with the following procedures: Students will complete a survey at the start of their course to measure what strategies they think will be successful in motivating students. Next, students will receive the motivation intervention and complete an open-ended survey recording their immediate responses. They survey will be repeated at the end of the course after students’ practicum placements to measure the impact of the intervention on the motivational strategies they implemented. A control group will be included and will complete both the pre- and post-test surveys but will not receive the motivation intervention. We will provide this group with resources following their practicum for use in future teaching.
Grants Approved in 2011
“Fostering the Development of Early Mathematics”
Michelle A Drefs, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary
While there is general agreement of the importance of providing early intervention in response to both mathematics talent and disability, less is known about effective mathematics instruction and intervention in the early years. Two possible avenues by which to help foster the development of mathematics are to teach young students metacognitive and patterned set recognition skills (eg Griffin & Case, 1997; Van de Walle, 2001). Given this background, it is essential that young children who are experiencing difficulties in mathematics are provided with appropriate intervention and instructional support. The proposed study will examine two interventions designed to foster the development of mathematical ability in young children. Using a quasi-experimental design, these interventions, one targeting specific mathematics skills (pattern set recognition) and one targeting more global skills (metacognition), will be examined in comparison with a control group. These interventions will be delivered within the regular class setting, with participating teachers provided with professional development activities to increase their understanding and ability to use one of the intervention approaches. They will then be asked to devote a minimum of 30 minutes per week in targeted intervention activities. Mathematics achievement data will be collected from Grade one students from schools in Calgary, Alberta. It is expected that both types of intervention activities will result in increases in children’s conceptual understanding of number concepts and that such gains will foster the successful obtainment of number-related mathematical concepts throughout their schooling. In addition, through emphasis on how children learn mathematics, teachers participating in the study will be better able to develop, select, and structure learning activities that foster young children’s development of number concepts.
“Dual Campus High School: A Study to Determine the Impact of a Multi Campus High School on Student Engagement, Student Success, and Faculty Efficacy”
Carmen P Mombourquette, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
In September 2010 Catholic Central High School (CCHS) in Lethbridge opened its doors to students just the same as all other high schools in the Province of Alberta were doing, save with one major difference – it did so in two locations. By so doing, the school became the first truly two campus high school in Alberta. CCHS would now offer an educational program to its student body in its existing facility (CCHS Campus East) and in the newly constructed CCHS Campus West.
Five years prior to opening day, Holy Spirit School Division officials approved a proposal from the school that outlined how a dual campus school would best meet the needs of the student population. They accepted the position that student programming flexibility as well as program expansion should be the guiding principles upon which high school education in Lethbridge and surrounding area should be organized. School division officials also recognized that the benefits of these two principles would outweigh the inevitable difficulties that were to arise with items like transportation and employee contracts.
The addition of the new building allowed the high school officials to plan for the introduction of new age courses like pre-engineering, and industrial production; the expansion of technology rich programs like new media and art which required major investments in equipment and lab space; as well as design an area for the exploration of the sciences but through a venue that allowed for a blend of technology and hands-on experimentation. At the same time the existing building could continue to offer courses in the fine arts – drama, art, and music that would have both the facilities and specialists required for high level productions and student learning; continue to offer language based courses; and be the home for the very successful Sports Academies.
Both school and divisional leaders were seeking to come up with a solution so often encountered by schools in that they became islands unto themselves and where each had its own set of programs, students, and staff; and where the sharing of resources would take place infrequently and without much effectiveness.
The campus philosophy was going to be an experiment where programming and student flexibility were to be balanced against administrative needs of the organization. But would it work? That is what this study is all about. Did Holy Spirit School Division come up with an innovative and effective way to deliver a powerful program of education to high school students? Or did it just create administrative difficulties for itself?
This study will explore the impact of the new organizational structure of the school, necessitated by the dual campus nature of the entity, on student academic performance, student engagement and teacher efficacy. To do this, a mixed methods research methodology will be adopted. Student academic performance will be examined three years prior to the second campus opening and then for three years into the new era. Academic performance has a relationship to the concepts of student engagement and teacher efficacy. Therefore, the correlation between academic performance and student engagement and teacher efficacy will be examined. To do so measures of student engagement and teacher efficacy will be developed. Student engagement scores will come from survey results. The survey to be used has been in place for the past three years and will continue to be used for the next three. A score for teacher efficacy will be developed by using the results from the Teacher Efficacy Scale, as well as, results from a survey that has been in place for the past three years and one that will continue to be used for the next three. Finally, a determination will be made as to the impact of the organizational change on student performance as determined by the type of courses they complete. Through the use of the survey results, student academic performance and course completions degree of impact will be determined through correlations between the variables.