Child and Youth Studies Current Graduate Student Profiles

MA in Child and Youth Studies




Child and Youth Studies Current Graduate Student Profiles

Chilise Jones-Cowser
Chilise is interested in the child-companion animal bond particularly the interactions between children and their companion animals. Chilise is currently working alongside her advisor Dr. Christine Tardif-Williams for her Masters thesis. Chilise's research is part of a larger study being conducted by Dr. Christine Tardif-Williams, which is being conducted at the St. David’s Public School in collaboration with the District School Board of Niagara and Therapy Tails Ontario. The larger study involves examining children's interactions with dogs, who are being engaged as reading buddies in an educational setting. Specifically, Chilise's research is investigating if the interactions between children and companion animals, in this case dogs as reading buddies, is associated with the promotion of empathy and prosocial behaviour among children. Chilise hopes that her research will provide further insight into the child-companion animal bond in an educational context with the goal of increasing children’s social-emotional competence.
 
Ashley Nascimento
My research assesses the various aspects of Child and Youth Care (CYC) work and how relationships between child or youth and care provider are limited and constricted within greater political, social and historical contexts. Specifically, my research takes place internationally in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil within a favela (slum) and unveils the entangled and complex relationship that I, not only as an ethnographer, but also as a CYC worker had with the many young people that I encountered in relation to the colonization of Brazil. My research emphasises the implications of greater historical, social and political contexts that not only influence and constrain the relationships in CYC work settings, but can also work to reproduce oppressive relationships. I argue that it is imperative for CYC workers to not only be aware of these greater influences, but to critically reflect and engage themselves within these contexts in attempts to reposition themselves in how they go about doing their work and providing services with young people. My research also briefly looks closer at the gap between providing services that may function counter intuitively and not providing services at all to see how and where CYC workers fit in relation to offering alternative services, or offering assistance to those services that already exist.
 
Samantha Stromski
Samantha’s research interests focus on issues facing individuals with intellectual disabilities within the Criminal Justice System. Under the supervision of Dr. Griffiths and Dr. Marinos Samantha’s Masters thesis will examine the ways accommodations and supports are being used to assist individuals with the specific diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) throughout the various stages of the justice system. Samantha hopes that this research will contribute to theory, policy and practice that can provide new directions for the development of specialized support programs that will assist individuals with FASD in navigating their way through the justice system with more ease, resulting in more equitable experiences.
 
Nicole Franklin
Nicole's research interests center on recess with an emphasis on social context. Research indicates that recess has the potential to positively impact children's social, physical, academic, and psychological development, yet there are many children who face challenges during recess such as bullying and exclusion. Consequently, Nicole works as a Recess Coordinator with the Niagara Recess Project, a program developed by her supervisor, Dr. Lauren McNamara, which aims to promote a recess environment that is positive, inclusive, and engaging by utilizing Participatory Action Research. Due to the fact that research on recess in Canada is largely absent, Nicole's research will qualitatively document the social landscape of recess through the voices of students, teachers, and administrators. She is hopeful this research will one day influence policy and practice within the education system as well as illuminate the need for further research in this area of study.
 
Katie Atkins
Katie’s research focuses on coping with learning disabilities. When children struggle with learning, it not only affects their academic experiences, but it is also a risk factor for social and emotional difficulties. This can translate to negative outcomes in life if they cannot cope with it adaptively. Thus is it important to understand how a child lives with and manages this challenge as it can provide a gateway to intervention that helps clinicians, educational professionals and parents support children’s cognitive and social/emotional development. In order to do this, Katie will be conducting a qualitative case study that examines how the transaction between a child’s internal resources and the multiple contexts in their environment (home, school, community) contributes to how they cope with a learning disability.
 
Ashley Miller
Ashley’s graduate research was aimed at studying a support system for children with learning disabilities. Under the supervision of her thesis advisor, Dr. John McNamara, Ashley partnered with the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara Region (LDANR) to explore a character education initiative called the “Who is NOBODY?” program that had been recently integrated into an existing program called Better Emotional and Social Times. A qualitative case study was conducted to explore the “Who is NOBODY?” program from three lenses: design, implementation, and experiences of participating children. The objective of the study was two-fold. First, the study aimed to support the LDANR in assessing the efficacy of the “Who is NOBODY?” program and, thereby, provide the LDANR with empirical support of its program. Second, the study enabled a more in-depth understanding of how to best support children with learning disabilities with their social competence and self-esteem. The findings of the study revealed the “Who is NOBODY?” program to promote positive character traits, prosocial behaviour and strong self-efficacy beliefs, which led to strong character development and self-esteem. Overall, the “Who is NOBODY?” program was shown to be a successful remediation program in supporting vulnerable children with learning disabilities with their social and emotional well-being.
 
 
Ashley Dunseith
It was through Dr. Lauren McNamara's research background and guidance that I too began reflecting on my many years of schooling and considering various areas that are seemingly undervalued in the school system, such as recess. Through conducting research, and facilitating a section of the Recess Project under the supervision of Dr. McNamara, my research aims to further identify not only the benefits of recess, but to also acknowledge recess as a valuable tool for promoting positive development in our children and youth. Essentially, I will be looking at the link between recess components and mental health and how recess can be structured [through the Recess Project] to encourage positive mental health among students.
 
Ann Farrell
Ann’s research explores which individual and environmental factors are associated with five subtypes of bullying (physical, verbal, social, racial, sexual) from evolutionary and ecological frameworks. Under the supervision of Dr. Tony Volk, the individual factors Ann will investigate are sex, age, temperament, and personality, while the environmental factors include parenting, school climate, friendship quality, and socio-economic status. She will explore both the independent and interactive effects of these factors on each subtype of bullying. By comparing the different factors that are associated with each subtype of bullying, Ann hopes her findings can help anti-bullying programs become more effective by targeting the heterogeneity of bullying, and therefore the specific individual and environmental characteristics associated with each subtype of bullying.
 
Yana Lakman
Yana is originally from Ottawa and has a BA with specialization in Psychology from the University of Ottawa. She has a great deal of experience working with children and youth. She is currently working with Heather Chalmers, exploring the topic of young carers in Canada. There is a significant lack of awareness and research regarding this population, thus there are limitless opportunities for investigation. One of her interests is in understanding more about who in a family takes on a caregiving role, as not all children become young carers. In collaboration with the Powerhouse Project in St Catharines, she will begin to research young carers’ profile, emphasizing the role of temperament, gender, and birth order and contribute to the understanding of this hidden population in the Niagara region.
 
Bethany Morris
Bethany comes from a background of Psychology and English from the University of Prince Edward Island. Her research interests center around an interdisciplinary approach to psychology that allows for a critical perspective on the field. She is currently doing her Masters thesis with Dr. Hans Skott-Myhre. She will be doing a discourse analysis on the criteria for Early Onset Schizophrenia and children's literature and examining the contradictions that arise in regards to discourses surrounding childhood imagination, and the implications of those contradictions on the child's experience of his or her world. 
She hopes that this research will provide an alternative understanding of the individual's way of being in the world.
 
Natalie Spadafora
Natalie is a Brock University graduate of concurrent education. As part of her undergraduate research in the Child and Youth Department, Natalie examined bullying within the context of sports, that is, seeing how bullying dynamics occurred between adolescent athletes, correlated with variables such as antisociality, the number of years of sports participation, and the coach's skill ranking. Continuing under the supervision of Dr. Zopito Marini for her Masters research, Natalie plans to continue to study bullying, through a further examination of context and other variables that may affect this interesting social dynamic. Through her experience with children and youth, Natalie is interested in seeing how they are affected by bullying, especially given its prevalence in the school setting and other extracurricular activities.
 
Kimberley Tsujimoto
Kimberley Tsujimoto's overall research interests focus on interventions which aim to support the learning needs of individuals with disabilities; as well as the role of motivational constructs and attributions in reading achievement. Her passion for seeking to provide educational supports for children with disabilities stemmed from working in classrooms and her extracurricular work at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Under the supervision of Dr. Jan Frijters, Kimberley's graduate work will collaborate with the initiatives of the Learning Disabilities Research Program at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy. To support the creation of developmentally appropriate literacy interventions for individuals who struggle with reading, her proposed MA research will focus on the motivational processes of adult learners in relation to reading component skills. The unique needs of adult literacy learners are understudied as most current evidence-based remedial approaches are based on a younger learner population. This work builds off of her undergraduate thesis; which examined the interchangeable relationship between attributions for success and failure and reading achievement among adolescents with reading difficulties. Her MA thesis hopes to further explore the role of motivation in academic achievement across learner populations to better understand how to support a range of learning needs and goals.