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Centre for Urban Schooling

Past Research Projects

Research at CUS is organized into a number of themes relevant to urban education:

Anti-oppression policies and pedagogy 

  • Artistic and cultural production
  • Community and neighbourhood dynamics
  • Development of social capital
  • Globalization, immigration and economic restructuring
  • Policies and programs that have an impact on children and youth
  • Power relations and social inequality
  • School leadership and institutional change
  • Student engagement and achievement


Exploring Critical Consciousness in Toronto's Urban Classrooms: A Critical Practitioner Inquiry Approach to Understanding and Improving Black Student Achievement (2014-2015)

Download the final report to the Toronto District School Board. Written by Nicole West-Burns, Ph.D.


The Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy Initiative (2013-2014)

nicole's project

The website is now live: www.cuscrrpinitiative.ca

Please take a look and share widely! 

The website includes a documentary that chronicles a year-long professional learning journey with teams of educators from two schools; a report on the initiative; and professional resources. 


Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices (CRTP) for Engaging Urban Secondary School Students

Project Timeline: 2008 – 2011
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Lance T. McCready
CUS Researcher(s): Dr. Dominique Rivière (Project Coordinator), David Montemurro (Project Coordinator)
CUS Graduate Student(s): Krista Craven, Ashley Fallbrook
Research Theme: School Leadership and Institutional Change

The purpose of the CRTP project is to identify innovative, culturally responsive, classroom teaching practices, across academic subject areas, that foster the engagement of students in secondary schools facing challenging circumstances. The four guiding questions of CRTP are:

1. How do a select number of urban secondary teachers define Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT)?
2.  How do a select number of urban secondary teachers practice CRT?
3. How have a select number of urban secondary teachers developed CRT strategies?
4. What barriers do urban secondary teachers face in CRT?

Through interviews with teachers in secondary schools serving underserved urban neighbourhoods in Toronto, we aim to identify and support the development of curricular content, instructional practices, and assessment and evaluation strategies that foster meaningful student involvement throughout the learning environment.

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant; Ontario Council of Directors of Education, Inquiry into Practice Project 



Meeting the Needs of Students Facing Challenging Circumstances – A Secretariat and School Board/University Partnership

Project timeline:  2005 - 2006
Principal Investigator(s):  Dr. Doug McDougall, Dr. Eunice Jang, Dr. Joseph Flessa, and Jeff Kugler
Research Theme: Student Engagement and Achievement

The Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat contracted OISE/UT, along with two urban school districts, to determine the factors that contribute to success in schools facing challenging circumstances One school board used the Learning Opportunities Index in order to identify schools in these circumstances, while the other board studied schools which participated in a special school-community program that offered health care, dental, and other social services. The purpose of the Challenging Circumstances project was to add to the knowledge base regarding student success in such schools, with a particular emphasis on innovative leadership practices. 

Significant findings include: recognizing that students’ academic objectives could only be met once social and behavioural concerns were addressed; creating professional learning communities for teachers; and fostering supportive school/community partnerships. The findings of the Challenging Circumstances project have since been compiled into a research report that is now part of the Ministry of Education’s new website for principal leadership. (Click here to see the full report.)


Poverty and Education: Three Follow-up Case Studies



 Following the impact evaluation of ETFO’s Poverty and Education Project (2007 – 2008),
three case studies from 2008 – 2009 are examining the important question of
sustainability, beyond the first year of the initiative. In particular, they are examining what participating schools learned, what the limiting factors were, and how school
communities are impacted by poverty differently, based on their own contextual features.

Funding: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

Socio-cultural Perspectives on Discipline and Classroom Management

Project Timeline: 2006 - 2007
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Lance McCreadyCUS Researcher(s): Dr. Dominique Riviere, Luisa Sotomayor
CUS B.Ed. Student(s):  Matthew Gilbert
Research Theme: Student Engagement and Achievement

This is a collaborative inquiry project being conducted in two of the Toronto District School Board’s Model Schools for Inner Cities. Its purpose is to generate a critical understanding of the ways in which teachers, staff, students and parents in Model Schools understand issues of discipline and classroom management within two of the schools. The project is designed to engage the school community in a process of critical inquiry regarding the frequency of discipline incidents, the types of incidents that occur, the actions that are taken as a result of the incidents, and the implications of these for building healthy student-teacher relationships.


Project Timeline: 2008-2009
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Kathleen Gallagher
CUS Graduate Student(s): Ivan Service
Research Theme: anti-opression policies and pedagogy
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