In brief: Research news Fall 2021

The Faculty of Education has a proud tradition not only of producing great educators, psychologists and information studies professionals, but great research. Here are some recent stories you may have missed about UAlberta education researchers and the important work they do to improve teaching, learning, policy and professional practice in Alberta, in Canada and around the world.

Researcher wants to better equip young people to manage their financial futures

Most Canadians are living beyond their means, with a debt-to-income ratio of 181 per cent. More than half are within $200 of not being able to cover their bills and loan payments. These kinds of statistics make Faculty of Education professor Damien Cormier uneasy, which prompted him to launch a research project to boost financial literacy in young people.

The research project, launched a year ago under the umbrella of the U of A’s Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation, mainly helps establish a strong measure of financial literacy that can then be used to develop school curriculum or reference materials for consumer affairs agencies, said Cormier.

While there is an existing curriculum in some schools, he’d like to see financial literacy taught “more consistently across the board and to be more targeted by fleshing out what we want young people to achieve and how teachers can deliver that content.”


Self-awareness key to helping kids cope with back-to-school stress, says education expert

Kids anxious about heading back to school after a year of pandemic lockdown can best be helped by parents and teachers getting themselves grounded and present, says a University of Alberta education expert.

Connecting with how their own bodies respond to stress or fear can help adults shake off the isolating effects of the pandemic, which in turn helps them be better able to deal with any stress or trauma children are experiencing, said Alexandra Fidyk, a professor of Secondary Education.

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Study seeks to help university students combat boredom in online learning

University of Alberta researcher Patti Parker may have discovered an upside to the social isolation that has accompanied remote learning during the global pandemic: it turns out to be ideal conditions for pursuing research on boredom.

Parker, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Educational Psychology, is working on a study led by Virginia Tze, a University of Manitoba education professor and U of A education graduate, to develop an online boredom intervention that will help students recognize, understand and respond to the onset of boredom, and take steps to combat boredom before it takes hold.

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Remote learning helped parents and teachers relate to each other, study suggests

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major upheaval, sending students home to remote learning and leaving teachers and parents scrambling to adapt. But it also created the opportunity for a deeper appreciation of their respective roles and challenges, according to a study led by an Educational Policy Studies professor Bonnie Stelmach.

Whether it was teachers witnessing parents deal with pandemic-caused stresses like job loss, or parents struggling to help their children with at-home lessons, the situations people found themselves in gave everyone a chance to empathize, Stelmach said.

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Education researcher reveals history of assimilative tactics on Blood Reserve

Dr. Tiffany Prete, an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, has been conducting research into the history of residential schools in her home community, the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta. She says that starting with the signing of Treaty 7 in 1877 and an influx of religious missionaries, there were nine different school models established on the Blood Reserve that show the development of what became the Indian residential school system.


Feature image: Educational Psychology professor Damien Cormier