CBU Professor Receives More Than $50,000 in Grant Funding from SSHRC

Dr. Patrick Howard, a professor in the Education Department at Cape Breton University has received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for his research that focuses on how to better prepare pre-service teachers for the classroom in a digital age.

The SSHRC has awarded a two-year Insight Development Grant in the amount of $59,462 to Dr. Howard to conduct research that immerses pre-service education students in a digital composing workshop. The research will help students design, and produce multimodal, multimedia texts that will inquire into the most effective ways to adequately expand pre-service teachers’ expertise and understanding of new literacies.

As society and technology change, so does literacy. The 21st century demands that a person possess a wide range of abilities in order to be fully literate “One of the key outcomes of this research is knowledge creation,” says Dr. Howard. “Having pre-service teachers create multimedia texts will help us to better understand learning, teaching and thinking about technology and literacy, in general.” This research will allow Dr. Howard and others to inquire into the experiences, attitudes and beliefs of pre-service teachers as they engage with multimedia text creation. They will also be able to study and understand the possible tensions and obstacles that may arise with digital composing processes.

Technology challenges our ideas about what texts are and how they work. New digital genres are evolving and preparing teachers for a dynamic, digital classroom is challenging. Dr. Howard believes it is critical to discover how to best educate teachers to effectively integrate new literacies into their teaching. The funding will be used to establish a digital composing workshop. Research participants will have access to mobile notebook computers with wireless internet capabilities and multimedia creation software to provide for full involvement in the ‘digital writing’ workshop.

“It is imperative that CBU students have access to innovative new learning strategies and the ability to participate in research,” Dr. Dale Keefe, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies said. “We know that these sorts of positive experiences help us to attract and retain the very best students. Grants such as this one received by Dr. Howard allow us to maintain and create infrastructure to appeal to the next generation.”