Faculty of Education

Curriculum Studies and Studies in Applied Linguistics

In the Curriculum Studies and Studies in Applied Linguistic Academic and Research Cluster we are a group of diverse scholars united by shared values and commitments to teaching, learning, and the persons who are therein involved. Through our research, teaching, and service we aim to produce knowledge that:

  • respects and promotes the dignity of learners and their communities
  • valorizes the diversity of funds of knowledge of learners and their communities
  • builds, in varied ways, opportunities for learners and communities to flourish
  • reduces vulnerabilities and adversities that learners and communities, particularly those who are minoritized, might face
  • create safe, humanizing, and asset-oriented educational possibilities for all people, and
  • ultimately exemplify the best of what scholarship can generate: curiosity and intellectual engagement, freedom of thought and expression, dialogic exchange, civic responsibility, adherence to collegiality and democratic principles, and equity and social justice.

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Program Chair

Curriculum studies is an established, but not uniform, discipline that has been identified as the first (and perhaps only) discipline to be birthed from education itself (e.g., Pinar, 2004). Its queries fall into three main “orders”:

  1. the “nature of curriculum” (with questions relating to issues concerning the “essence” and “properties” of curriculum);
  2. the “elements of curriculum” (with questions relating to issues concerning the learners, educators, subject matter content which includes knowledge and skills, the teaching and learning “milieu”, and the “aim, activity”, and “result” of the curriculum; as well as
  3. the “practice of curriculum” (with questions relating to issues concerning action and thought) (Dillon, 2009).

Curriculum studies has an innovative nature as it searches for the most apt methods, methodologies, and theories to pursue its novel questions. The discipline may thus draw on the tools of external disciplines (e.g., psychology and sociology) in its inquiries, but it does not allow those disciplines to determine or set the inquiries (Egan, 2003). At the heart of curriculum studies is the mandate to both critique and develop (Petrina, 2004) curricula. 

Researchers in the Curriculum Studies cluster at Western draw on scholarship from a host of external disciplines to explore issues related to curriculum and pedagogy. We share an imperative to foster critical literacy and to conduct research that promotes positive identity options for all learners. We aim to foster critical understanding, creativity, and innovation.  

Cluster programs concern and members conduct research in a variety of settings including:

  • urban and rural schools, 
  • child care centres,
  • neighbourhood drop-in programs for families, 
  • professional and clinical settings,
  • long-term care facilities, linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms, and
  • higher education programs.

Members employ diverse research approaches including design research, documentary film, ethnography and case study, narrative research, participatory action research, interpretive phenomenology, and textual analysis. Similarly, they employ a range of theoretical lenses to guide analysis: complexity theory, cognitive theories, sociocultural theories, language acquisition theories, connectivism and sociomaterial theories such as actor network theory and activity theory.

Cluster members have strength in the following curricular research foci:

  • Culturally responsive and anti-racist pedagogies
  • Early childhood education and care (ECEC) and Early Years schooling
  • Adolescent literacy and participatory culture
  • Educational technologies (e.g. applets; e-learning and mobile learning)
  • Intergenerational programs (e.g. art, music, literacy, mathematics)
  • Language and literacy education (including multimodal literacies and multiliteracies) 
  • Mathematics education
  • Medical education
  • Music education
  • Online education
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Science Education
  • Teacher education and Teacher professional development

Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study that investigates issues pertaining to the nature of language and language use, particularly in the field of education.  The range of topics includes:

  • Second language education,
  • Second language teacher education,
  • International, Heritage, Minority, Indigenous, and First Nations languages,
  • Language loss, Language revitalization, Language Maintenance and Language attrition,
  • Language assessment,
  • Language policy and planning,Social approaches to languages, Sociolinguistics,
  • Discourse analysis,
  • Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Second/Third/Multiple language acquisition.