Awards | Les Prix

Every year, CATE/ACFE recognizes graduate students and distinguished field leaders in Canadian teacher education. Information on eligibility and application procedures are available below information on this year's recipients. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page for information on previous years' award recipients.

2016 CATE Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Teacher Education
The CATE Executive Committee would like to congratulate Dr. Deborah Britzman, 2016 recipient.

Deborah Britzman is Distinguished Professor of Research at York University in Toronto, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and psychoanalyst, with a small private practice. Prior to her doctoral work, Britzman taught secondary high school English and reading for five years in Hartford, Conn. She holds her doctorate degree from the University of Massachusetts (1985), taught at the State University of New York (Binghamton) for six years, and then in 1993, to Canada to assume a Faculty position at York University. She is a member of the Faculty of Education and holds numerous graduate cross appointments.

Britzman is author of nine books, seven of which address the field of psychoanalysis and education. Her most recent books are, The Very Thought of Education: Psychoanalysis and the Impossible Professions (SUNY Press, 2009); Freud and Education (with Routledge, 2011); A Psychoanalyst in the Classroom (2015, SUNY Press); and Melanie Klein: Early Analysis, Play and the Question of Freedom (Springer 2016). Since 1986, Britzman has authored over 100 articles and book chapters.

Britzman’s current research involves studies in mental health with an emphasis on the emotional world of affecting education. Highlighted are literary, clinical, historical, and narrative representations of the education and practices of teachers, professors, students and psychoanalysts. Her most cited book remains, Practice Makes Practice: A Critical Study of Learning to teach (2nd edition 2003, with SUNY Press).

2016 CATE Thesis and Dissertation Awards of Recognition

Masters Awards

Sally Holdsworth
But what if I fail? A meta-synthetic study of the conditions for supporting teacher innovation


This research was inspired by a desire to examine the conditions which support late-career teachers to innovate their practice.  As a secondary school classroom teacher with 20 years of experience in both British Columbia and Ontario, I continue to be inspired by my colleagues who pursue new approaches to their teaching practice by reinventing and reorienting their approach and methodology.  In an attempt to understand the contrast between the stereotype of the conservative and rigid senior teacher and my personal experience with dynamic and forward-looking late-career colleagues, I undertook a meta-synthetic examination of current research into the conditions that support teacher innovation in schools.  Twenty-seven articles that report on studies using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodology were selected for this project.  The articles were analyzed using Hargreaves and Fullan’s concept of Professional Capital as a framework, and nine emergent themes were developed.  Most significant among the themes were the impact of teacher attitudes and beliefs, and the importance of school structure on how teachers initiated and sustained innovations in teaching practice.  This project offers a discussion of the importance of local adaptation in supporting teachers to develop and sustain innovations that lead to positive school change.  The results of this study are relevant to both teachers and educational administrators, offering practical information about how to support and sustain a culture of innovation in schools.
Eleftherios (Terry) Soleas
New teacher perceptions of inclusive practices: Designing new futures for the changing classroom

This dissertation details a sequential explanatory mixed-method study into the perceptions and capacities of 44 new teachers regarding inclusive practices from their teacher education program, as well as their relative intent to utilize them in their practice. My purpose in this study was to determine the self-perceived capacity of the next generation of teachers leaving a Canadian teacher education program. As new teachers are the product of contemporary teacher education programs, their lingering needs and perceptions are potential avenues for intervention in continuing the refinement of teacher education. First, I performed a complete audit of relevant teacher education. Next, I invited participants to complete a mixed-methods survey. I used these survey findings to inform 6 critical-case interviews as well as descriptive statistics and figures illustrating new teacher capacities for inclusive practices. Thematic analyses yielded two groups of themes: confidence from teacher education, and the lingering needs of new teachers. These data suggest that teacher education programs are not entirely effective at producing new teachers who are confident in their abilities to be inclusive practitioners in the classroom. Further, the perceptions of new teachers illustrate fresh avenues for intervention in making teacher education programs more effective.

Doctoral Awards

Dr. Victorina Baxan
Uncovering roots of diversity conceptions teacher candidates in a concurrent teacher education program: A case study of teaching and learning about diversity

Building on research that examines the changing nature of Canadian schools (Egbo, 2011; Gérin-Lajoie, 2008; Solomon, Portelli, Daniel & Campbell, 2005), and that maintains that teachers are expected to be effective teachers of diverse students (James, 2010; Gagné, 2009), my study explored experiences of teacher candidates in a five-year concurrent teacher education program in Toronto, Canada, that aimed to provide a venue for these future teachers to develop critical understandings and knowledge of the nature of diversity and the ability to readjust and respond to the diversity dynamics in schools. Using a case study approach, this study examined the individual, programmatic, and systemic causes and influences on teacher candidates’ diversity conceptions. Findings were presented and discussed at the micro level using the conceptual change lens (Posner et al., 1982; Hewson & Lemberger, 2000; Larkin, 2010, 2012) to explore the development of diversity conceptions in specific teacher candidates. At the macro level, the liberal theory (Moosa-Mitha, 2005; McLaren, 1995; Fleras, 2002) helped make connections between the ideological influences at the societal level and teacher candidates’ conceptions of diversity.
Dr. Carol Johnson
Developing a framework for online music courses


Post-secondary music courses are currently being offered in an online learning format at an exponential rate of increase (Johnson & Hawley, in press). The purpose of this multiple case study was to develop a teaching framework that can assist music faculty members in their transition from traditional face-to-face classroom instruction to teaching in online environments. Three case studies presented unique online learning attributes: 1) a hybrid online learning format; 2) a fully online course focused on social constructivist learning and; 3) a fully online course with limited student interaction. The resulting framework was developed from both literature and data collected from the three case studies. It incorporates the four components articulated from the findings and is presented as three main categories (course design, assessment, and communication) with online music pedagogy interwoven among the three categories in an iterative development process. The findings and implications of this study contribute relevant evidence about current online music learning and teaching practices. Overall, constructivist and social constructivist learning approaches to course design were found assistive to providing students with interactive learning in the online environment. The implications are that online music faculty require ongoing active participation in sustainable workshops as well as  mentoring, and that administrators choosing new online music faculty members should seek those who have both an openness for online teaching and past experience in teaching using innovative technology.    

Dr. Kimberley Holmes
Learning, breathing and well-being: Teachers' reflections on pedagogical possibilities through mindfulness

The inspiration and motivation for this thesis came from my experiences as a student, a teacher and a mother. Through years of involvement with various types of education, I recognized significant problems embedded within the traditional ideologies of school: the fragmented focus of the assembly line model, the disregard of learning that is relevant to personal development, and the general disengagement of the educational process. I also observed increasing mental and physical health issues amongst teachers and students due to workload, class size, and time constraints. In addition, the Alberta government and school boards are recommending complex system changes, and this will require teachers to reflect carefully and mindfully on their current pedagogical praxis. Hence, this research was designed to explore the role of mindfulness in curriculum and learning, as a response to these challenges. I engaged nine educators in an initial interview to discuss their understanding of mindfulness and their use of mindful practices in their personal and professional lives. They then participated in four life writing activities and a final focus group activity. The results were analyzed and interpreted using the Integral model. The findings contributed to an exploration of the possibilities for mindful curriculum and learning. The analysis of findings, based on the combination of the data gathered, the theoretical framework, and the existing literature, suggests a framework for ongoing teacher professional development in mindfulness which is currently being utilized in both undergraduate teacher training and ongoing professional development in the field.  
Dr. Deborah Gail Lambert
Building digital video games at school: A design-based study of teachers' design of instruction and learning tasks to promote student intellectual engagement, deep learning and development of 21st century competencies

In the twenty-first century, the evolving needs and characteristics of learners along with emerging and more sophisticated technologies continue to influence formal teaching and learning environments, which has significant implications for teacher education.  As such, teachers need ongoing professional learning experiences to develop their pedagogical and assessment practices to meet the learning needs of students in these changing educational contexts.  In an attempt to carry out research that would help to address this need, this design-based research study documented how two classroom social studies teachers, in collaboration with me, a researcher from the University of Calgary, participated in active research to design, implement and explore an innovative pedagogy, the design and building of digital video games, to intellectually engage students in deep learning of social studies curriculum content and to promote the development and use of 21st century competencies, while using this opportunity for their own professional development.  Through their involvement in this collaborative, classroom-based research and innovative pedagogical design, both teachers developed innovative teaching and assessment practices that they indicated will be utilized in subsequent formal classroom teaching and learning experiences, making student learning more of “an immersive experience design rather than learning as curriculum design” (Kebritchi & Hirumi, 2008, p. 2).  Their students also became more intellectually engaged in meaningful and deep learning of the chosen curriculum content and developed 21st century competencies in the social studies context.  The resulting outcomes of this design-based research study has implications for effective teaching and learning practices that have the potential to make a positive difference in classroom teaching and learning through the design of pedagogical frameworks/models that can promote deep learning, intellectual engagement and development of 21st century competencies, curriculum re-design, implementation of technologies into formal classroom teaching and learning, and teacher professional learning and development that will have significance and impact in several fields of study and the discipline.  They will also significantly contribute to the learning sciences and to an understanding of the systematic changes needed in the education system to make teaching and learning more visible, relevant, interesting, engaging and authentic for a more connected and complex world. 

Dr. Christine Massing
An ethnographic study of immigrant and refugee women's knowledge construction in an early childhood teacher education program


In my former role as an early childhood education instructor working with immigrant and refugee women, I came to understand that they might experience a dissonance between the authoritative discourse (Bahktin, 1981) of early childhood, inscribed with western theories and values, taught in the program and their own intuitive, tacit, and practical knowledges. The purpose of this study, funded by SSHRC and the Killam Trusts, was to explore how twenty immigrant/refugee women constructed understandings of this authoritative discourse as they negotiated their professional identities during their coursework and field placements in an early childhood teacher education program. Using an ethnographic methodology, I was immersed in the participants’ coursework and practicum experiences for two to three days a week over three semesters of study, collecting qualitative data through field notes, spatial mapping, interviews, focus groups, and artifacts/documents. One of the most significant findings of this research pertained to the participants’ own responses when confronted by discontinuities between the professional expectations in the field and their own knowledges, practices, beliefs, and values. Consistent with the limited scholarship in this field, the participants did sometimes feel compelled to suppress their own beliefs and enact what they had learned in the program in order to be seen as professionals. However, this research elucidated two additional responses. First, the participants sometimes resisted or rejected the authoritative discourse in favour of their own cultural practices. On other occasions, they authored their own hybridized professional identities derived both from the professional expectations in the community of practice as well as from their own cultural and religious beliefs and values about how to teach and care for young children. This research contributes to our understanding of the knowledges and experiences immigrant and refugee women bring to the field which can be mobilized to support the meaningful inclusion of immigrant/refugee children and their families in schools or early childhood settings.  

 Dr. Mira Gambhir
Images of the diversity educator: Indian and Canadian perspectives on diversity education in initial teacher education


Recent policies in India and Canada make explicit commitments to addressing diversity and inclusion as part of teacher education reforms. Despite strong and growing policy recommendations, limited information is available on how ITE programs approach diversity education in practice.  In response, I conducted a qualitative international comparative study of initial teacher education (ITE) programs in Ontario, Canada, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, India. My research analyzes six programs—three in Ontario and three in Delhi—that prepare novice teachers for diversity.  The purpose of this study is to identify the similarities and differences of approaches to diversity education in ITE programs. I focus primarily on two of the programs and include the other four as context for the regional beliefs and practices in each country.  In particular, I examine the following: a) participants’ understandings of diversity education; b) program policies and procedures; c) curriculum content and pedagogy; and d) the challenges of different approaches to diversity education. The findings reveal that the approaches of both programs are framed by three images of the diversity educator—the affirmer, the conscious practitioner, and the social reformer—albeit in varying ways and emphases. Each image highlights distinct conceptions of diversity, inclusion, professional knowledge, and social action. They also provide new directions on how to best understand and improve diversity education in ITE.

 Dr. Sharon Allan
Borderlands of possibility: An interpretive case study exploring the construction of professional identity with intern teachers

For some time now I have been intrigued by the notion of borderlands, of in-between spaces that invite uncertainty and promise possibility. My attention was drawn to the existence of these spaces geographically early in my doctoral studies as I made a weekly journey from the southeastern corner of Alberta toward Edmonton over roads thinly travelled. As I observed the environment around me I began to notice subtle variations, shifting the landscape slightly as I drove northward. At no one point do the grasslands give themselves over to the parkland; instead, I saw landscapes that are neither here nor there, where foliage of all kinds exists alongside, and on top of, one another. In these liminal spaces the regions of Alberta struggle and survive in tension. Yet, the more I considered the nature of their existence, the more convinced I became that within these spaces also lay a thriving quality of being. Known ecologically as ecotones, these margins contain elements of the bordering communities as well as organisms uniquely suited to the ecotone. As organisms, materials, and energy flow reciprocally from one ecosystem to another this shifting space invites ambiguity and struggle, new life and unique prospects. And so it is with pre-service teachers during their final field experience: they are neither a student nor yet fully a teacher. They are at a crossroads, on the borderlands. They are becoming. This interpretive case study examined the ways in which four pre-service teachers constructed professional understandings during the 15 weeks of their internship. Using a series of conversational interviews the participants and I explored the experience of living on the borderlands; understandings highlighted the challenges of constructing a professional identity as well as the ways in which these intern teachers gradually assumed the subject position: teacher. Four essential aspects of this experience were distilled from the findings of this inquiry and arranged into a conceptual framework to assist teacher educators as they craft curriculum capable of engaging student teachers in consideration of who they are becoming as teachers on these borderlands of possibility.
 Dr. Sreemali Herath
Teachers as transformative intellectuals in post-conflict reconciliation: A study of Sri Lankan language teachers' identities, experiences and perceptions

[Apologies - the CATE/ACFE website storage has now been exceeded, preventing the display of this photograph. Come to the AGM to hear more.]

Sreemali Herath is currently teaching at the Postgraduate Institute for English at the Open University, Sri lanka. She teaches in the MA TESL program. Her doctoral research, which which was set against one of the longest civil wars in the world, focused on how Sri Lankan pre-service English language teachers are prepared to teach in a time of post-conflict reconciliation. In particular, this study focuses on teacher candidates’ identities, their experiences within the program and with diversity, their understanding of diversity as well as their roles and responsibilities when teaching socially and culturally diverse learners. This qualitative research inquiry utilizes a blend of narrative and case study methodologies, and includes a variety of traditional data sources as well as non-traditional methods such as picture descriptions, identity portraits and mind maps generated by the teacher candidates. An integrated conceptual framework based on notions of pedagogical orientations (Cummins, 2009; Miller and Seller, 1990; Miller, 2007, 2010) support the analysis of teacher candidates’ diverse perspectives and experiences relevant to curricular practices in their teacher education program. The findings of the study highlight the promise of language teacher education programs to create conditions for teacher candidates to become transformative intellectuals (Giroux, 1985) in the larger post-conflict reconciliation process underway in Sri Lanka. Sreemali’s research interests include, narrative inquiry, curriculum and material development, teacher identity, critical applied linguistics, and English for academic purposes. 
 Dr. Cristyne Hebert
(Student) teaching inside the box: Stories of teaching and learning in and against the edTPA

[Apologies - the CATE/ACFE website storage has now been exceeded, preventing the display of this photograph. Come to the AGM to hear more.]

Cristyne is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University. Her SSHRC funded doctoral research examined stories of teaching and learning advanced in the edTPA, a pre-service teacher performance assessment quickly becoming a required component of teacher education programs across the United States. In this project, she used narrative inquiry, informed by both curriculum theories and feminist epistemologies, to examine the story about teaching and learning offered to candidates within the edTPA handbooks. Exploring elements of story, inclusive of authorship, audience, and characters, Cristyne highlighted the ways in which this standardized assessment confines candidates to thinking about teaching and learning in a uniform manner, while at the same time demonstrating, through testimony of teacher candidates preparing to write the edTPA in New York, how this framework constrains in ways not congruent with their own experiences. To trouble the predominance of the edTPA dominant narrative, Cristyne juxtaposed this story against counternarratives offered by teacher candidates, which presented alternative ways of thinking and talking about education beyond the edTPA’s frame.

CATE/ACFE Thesis and Dissertation Awards of Recognition

The Canadian Association for Teacher Education (CATE) sponsors these awards that recognize theses and dissertations in the field of teacher education. The award is open to students who have defended at a Canadian University in the calendar year preceding the application deadline.

CATE/ACFE Parameters on Teacher Education 

The awards serve to promote teacher education research and scholarship in pre-service education, in-service education, and professional development, showing evidence of connecting and contributing to the body of literature in any one or combinations of these areas.

For a thesis or dissertation to be considered for a Recognition award, the study must directly address the field of teacher education not only in the conclusion, but throughout the research.  The study must also connect to one or more of the following topics: (1) Teacher education and societal issues, (2) The study of teacher education practice, and (3) Challenges and possibilities for teacher education.

1) Teacher education and societal issues 

Under this heading, the research may address issues related to practice or policy in teacher education:
a) new teacher education standards 
b) assessing the outcomes of teacher education 
c) preparing teachers to meet the needs of diverse populations 
d) teacher education in a global society 
e) the research base for teacher education 
f) collaborating with arts and sciences faculties 
g) recruiting a more diverse teaching force and teacher education faculty 
h) school-based and partnership-based teacher education 
i) alternative approaches to teacher education 
j) high stakes testing and impact on preparation of teachers 
k) leadership in 21st century schools of education 
l) education of teachers at in-service levels

2) The study of teacher education practice 
Under this heading, the research may examine teacher education practices through a wide variety of settings:

a) self-study of teacher education research, design and practice 
b) the knowledge base of teaching and teaching about teaching 
c) the process of learning to teach 
d) the nature of teacher education 
e) the professional development of teachers and teacher educators
f) critical approaches in teacher education

3) Challenges and possibilities for teacher education 
Under this heading, the research may consider the effects of rapid social and cultural change on teacher education. This area also includes research that can inform the transformation of education through teacher education. These challenges and possibilities include: 

a) the impact of new cultures and globalization on teacher education curriculum and pedagogy
b) new collaborations and partnerships between universities and schools
c) schools and other social service agencies’ roles in regards to teacher education
d) the consequences of community and family new configurations for teachers’ work
e) generational and cultural change in schools and teacher education institutions 
f) new technologies and teacher education
g) the impact of higher education policy and funding on teacher education.


Successful applicants work will be honoured with responses from the review panel at the CATE post-AGM celebration of Teacher Education in Canada. Applicants must indicate that they will be able to present their thesis/dissertation in poster type format at the CSSE conference (Ryerson University, Toronto ON, dates TBA).  The faculty supervisors will be invited to make a short presentation on the award winners and their studies. Successful applicants will receive a certificate of recognition and free membership to CATE in the subsequent year, however, all costs related to travel and conference registration are to be covered by the candidates.


Thesis or dissertation completed or defended between June 1st, 2016 and May 31st, 2017.

Submission Requirements

To have your thesis or dissertation considered for an award complete the application form and send a letter of recommendation from faculty supervisor. 

All applicants must indicate if they have submitted their thesis or dissertation to other CSSE associations to be considered for an award.

Please submit your application by Thursday, March 31st 2017 in an electronic form (Word or PDF) to:

Julie Mueller, CATE Past President 2016-2018
Faculty of Education
Wifrid Laurier University
Waterloo, ON


CATE Award for Contributions to Research in Teacher Education

This award has been created to recognise significant contributions to research in teacher education in Canada. The award applies to a body of research and not necessarily to a particular study or publication. Candidates do not need to be CATE members, but must be nominated by a member of CATE. The application must include two additional letters of recommendation from people associated with at least one other institution. However, these people do not need to be CATE members. Criteria for the award include evidence of excellence in research in teacher education through publications, presentations or other contributions, as well as overall influence on the field of teacher education research in Canada and internationally.


Nominators must be members of CATE.

Submission Requirements

Nominators, who must be CATE members, must submit:

  1. An initial letter of recommendation from a CATE member outlining the contributions of the nominee and providing evidence of excellence in research and significant contributions to teacher education in Canada and internationally (maximum two pages).
  2. The nominee’s curriculum vitae, including relevant publications and presentations throughout this person’s career, and not just from the past five years.
  3. Two supporting letters from persons who are able to attest to the outstanding nature of the nominee’s contributions. These individuals do not need to be members of CATE. 
All nomination materials should be sent to CATE/ACFE President Jodi Nickel
Department of Education
Mount Royal University
Calgary, AB

Deadline for submissions: March 10, 2017