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Foundational support

Wide-ranging research receives more than $470,000 in federal investment

By Jeff Green

Memorial researchers are shedding light on complex challenges facing our world.

A recent federal investment is kick-starting and advancing eight studies ranging from the transformation of Canadian prisons to quantitative entrepreneurship research informed by gender studies.

The funding comes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grants (IDG) program.

François-Philippe Champagne, minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, made the announcement on Nov. 16, which included major funding for researchers, scientists and students.

In total, SSHRC is investing $471,645 at Memorial.

Multidisciplinary support

Researchers based in the faculties of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Business Administration, as well as the schools of Music, Maritime Studies at the Marine Institute, and Arts and Social Science at Grenfell Campus, share the funding.

“Through its Insight Development Grants program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council provides the opportunity for researchers to explore issues facing our world, ask tough questions and initiate important conversations,” said Dr. Tana Allen, acting vice-president (research), who is Memorial’s SSHRC leader.

“These latest competition results highlight the creativity and richness of the Memorial community. I encourage our emerging and established researchers to learn more about SSHRC’s funding programs, particularly those that support research in its early stage.”

Educational research

Wearing dark glasses and a floral top, Dr. Jeanne Sinclair smiles.
Dr. Jeanne Sinclair
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Jeanne Sinclair, assistant professor, Faculty of Education, is receiving $74,465 for the project, Developing a Culturally Responsive, Scientifically Grounded Reading Intervention Through Educational Design Research.

Her collaborator is Dr. Shakina Rajendram from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Sinclair says a recent report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission on their Right to Read inquiry encourages Canadian schools to adopt a new approach to teaching reading.

She says many schools are exploring “the science of teaching reading,” an approach that is grounded in linguistics and cognitive psychology.

“Children benefit from a robust reading pedagogy that transcends philosophical boundaries.” — Dr. Jeanne Sinclair

“Yet, little is known at the moment how this new approach to teaching reading can be integrated with Canadian teachers’ culturally responsive practices that have long been instrumental to children’s learning and well-being,” Dr. Sinclair told the Gazette during a recent interview.

She also says that it is possible that adopting a culturally responsive lens may actually improve the efficacy of approaches based on the science of teaching reading.

“With the SSHRC IDG funding, our team will explore how teachers can effectively integrate these two philosophies of teaching in their classrooms, and how students respond to this form of instruction.”

Phase one underway

Dr. Sinclair says that work is important since about 17 per cent of Canadian adults’ literacy skills are below a basic level.

She hopes their study can potentially improve all Canadians’ quality of life.

“Canadian teachers already offer culturally responsive, student-centred classrooms, and this program builds on that foundation,” she noted.

“Children benefit from a robust reading pedagogy that transcends philosophical boundaries. Ministries of education and teacher education programs can benefit from new evidence to support curriculum modernization. Though this is a pilot study seeking a proof-of-concept, its knowledge mobilization plan can engage educators, families and academics to provide new, instructive ways of conceptualizing reading development in homes and schools.”

Phase one of the project is already underway. It focuses on curriculum development and involves direct engagement with students in Grades 1-3 across Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I am very grateful to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, especially the provincial reading program specialist team, for supporting this research and connecting me with schools across Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Below is a listing of Memorial’s results from the 2022 Insight Development Grants competition.

Grenfell Campus

  • Dr. Amanda Hancock, School of Arts and Social Science, Comparing leaders’ workplace mental illness disclosures: The role of disclosure medium, level of leadership, and level of reveal, $62,049.

School of Maritime Studies, Marine Institute

  • Dr. Marcella Siqueira Cassiano, Ocean Safety Research Unit, The Transformation of Canadian Prisons: from “Administrative Segregation” to “Structured Intervention Units”, $45,318.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr. Dwayne Avery, Department of English, Uncanny Nights: Night Vision and The Nocturnal Nature Documentary, $44,073.
  • Dr. Nicholas Welch, Department of Linguistics, Early Warning System: Factors in early language attrition in Labrador Innu communities, $74,928.

Faculty of Business Administration

  • Dr. Carlos Bazan, cross-appointed to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Quantitative Entrepreneurship Research Informed by Gender Studies, $54,649.
  • Dr. Jennifer Jewer, Dynamic capabilities for digital transformation: the role of information technology governance, $45,188.

School of Music

  • Dr. Meghan Forsyth, ‘Toujours chantante’: Acadian Songs and Acadian French Vernaculars on Cape Breton Island, $70,975.

Faculty of Education

  • Dr. Jeanne Sinclair, Developing a culturally responsive, scientifically-grounded reading intervention through educational design research, $74,465.

Total: $471,645

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