VIU Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

Amanda Wager's Research Projects

Principal Investigator



May 2024 - May 2019

Community-based research in education: Youth-led public art as culturally responsive pedagogy and capacity building
Principal Investigator: Dr. Amanda Claudia Wager, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Sponsorship: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, $500,000 CA and Canada Foundation Initiative $29,359 CA

This community-based research program in education explores arts-based literacies work on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The objective of this innovative research program is to stimulate culturally responsive learning through youth-led public art projects
involving literacies and participatory visual methodologies, such as theatre, mural painting, spoken word poetry, hip-hop music, and woodcarving. Funding supports the creation of a Community Action Research Centre for the Arts created and run by, for and among youth—including VIU undergraduate and graduate students—as a method to increase youth leadership and capacity development that facilitates cross-cultural relationships with local Indigenous, non-Indigenous and international communities.

October  2022- October 2021

Assembling Common Worlds: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Environment and Young People's Literature and Culture

Dr. Terri Doughty, Co-Investigator, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada Sponsorship: Social Science and Humanities Research Council Individual Connection Grant, CA, $19,545 CA

Assembling Common Worlds will provide substantial outcomes in the form of interdisciplinary engagement on eco-literacy and eco-activism in young people’s literature and cultural productions, mutually productive exchanges between academics and practitioners working in the field of environmental education, broad dissemination of research, and student mentorship and training.

December 2021 - January 2021

EDI Ideation Symposium: Catalyzing Ideas for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amanda Claudia Wager, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada Co-Investigators: Tehmina Khwaja Vancouver Island University, Nicole L. Vaugeois Vancouver Island University,Dr. Denise Green Ryerson University, Asma Sayed Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Michael S. Quinn Mount Royal University, Pamela Hawranik Athabasca University

Sponsorship: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, $23,994 CA

Vancouver Island Research Ethics Board File No: 101203 and 100428

EDI Symposium 2021

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council’s (SSHRC) Institutional Connection Grants, this virtual symposium and research project brought together 14 institutions that are members of the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU), a network of small and medium-sized comprehensive universities from across Canada. The symposium provided a venue for collaboration, discussions and shared learning around equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) planning. The goal of the symposium was to allow the participating universities to collaboratively develop a deeper understanding of research-based EDI best practices, including how to build institutional capacity; how to handle resistance to advancement of EDI on campuses; how to manage institutional cultural shifts when prioritizing EDI at universities; how to effectively apply an intersectional lens to EDI action and analysis; and the legal and human rights aspects of EDI. The event took place virtually over two days (March 24-25, 2021), with sessions ranging from presentation of data to interactive workshops. We are continuing an ongoing research study about the impact of the gathering on the individuals and universities via a survey and interviews.

July 2021 - July 2020

Youth Language Warriors: Reclaiming Hul'qumi'num through Intergenerational Relationships and the Art

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amanda Claudia Wager, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Sponsorship: Vancouver Foundation Convene Grant, $20,000 CA and ArtStarts Grant, $10,000, CA

Every Tuesday the arc: A Centre for Art, Research and Community works with a group of 10 young people from Tsawalk Learning Centre and three Elders from the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre. The youth participatory action researchers are using the arts to promote their voices while infusing their digital art pieces with Hul’q’umin’um’, Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Kwak’wala languages taught by the three Elders. Their projects surround topics that advocate for social issues that matter most to them, such as Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, Police Brutality and Salmon Fishing. Together the young people have developed specific research questions which can be answered through an artistic public digital art form. The ArtStarts Grant has funded two visiting artists, Amanda Strong and Bracken Hanuse Corlett, to teach the youth researchers digital art skills. 

May 2021  - September 2020                         Arts-based Social Inquiry with Street-Involved Youth 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amanda Claudia Wager

Co-Investigator: Dr. Jeffrey Paul Ansloos, Canada Research Chair, University of Toronto

Drawing on a partnership with a group of Indigenous youth experiencing homelessness in Vancouver, Canada, this study identifies four structural challenges that have impacted them and four actionable upstream strategies to further prevent youth housing precarity. As a community-engaged qualitative study with eight youth experiencing homelessness, we conducted a thematic analysis with the qualitative data, which included youth-generated research materials, fieldnotes, performance observations, and qualitative interviews. The results reflect the racial, colonial, and economic concerns that impact Indigenous youth experiencing homelessness. The four actionable upstream solutions highlight human rights based approaches to homelessness, ranging from advancing and strengthening public services, transitional justice processes, and cultural and socioeconomic safety. This study provides strategies to promote Indigenous youth wellbeing and decrease risk of housing precarity, while centering and drawing from youth knowledge production. Strengths and limitations of the study are also discussed.

August 2020 - August 2019

Restorative Justice Campus Project at Lesley University

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amanda Claudia Wager

Investigators: Dr. Meenakshi Chhabra, Chief Diversity Officer Amarildo Barbosa, and Allison Tucker

Sponsorship: Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the Restorative Justice (RJ) trainings and implementing of RJ practices such as Circle, Conferencing\ and Reintegration on the Lesley campus. The study will inform future work with the Restorative Justice initiative at Lesley and also add to the growing research in the field of RJ work in higher education campuses in the US. 

September 2022 - September 2017 Describing Teacher Sense-Making, Instructional Change, and Collaboration in the ELTPC Project, United States Department of Education Grant: English Language Teacher and Parent Certificate Project (ELTPC)

Co-Principal Investigators: Drs. Laura Schall-Leckrone, Amanda Wager, Meg Burns and Valerie Shinas, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Sponsorship: United States Department of Education, $2,700,000 US

The purpose of this study is to describe teacher sense-making, instructional change, and collaboration throughout the ELTPC Project.  As such, we will document teachers' experiences in the four-course certificate program in English Learner (EL) education with a special emphasis on family and community engagement. Five cohorts of 14 teachers each for a total of 70 teachers will participate in the four-course certificate program during the five-year period of the grant. The certificate will consist of the following four courses: (1) EECLD 6002 Essential Linguistics: What Teachers Need to Know About Language, (2) EECLD 6004 First and Second Language Acquisition and Oral Language Development, (3) EECLD 6001 Culturally Responsive Teaching, and (4) EECLD 6003 Family and Community Engagement.  As a mixed methods study, this research will employ ethnographic methods in classrooms and schools, including observations, interviews, and document analysis of teacher and student work as well as quantitative analysis of student assessment information focused on English language acquisition as demonstrated on standardized testing, such as ACCESS assessments prior to and following the project period.  In addition, teacher participants will develop and implement an inquiry project in collaboration with family and/or community members in their classroom or school context as part of courses three and four. These inquiry projects, as well as regular course assignments, focused on supporting teachers and more effectively meeting the needs of emergent bilingual learners while engaging families, will be the focus of data analyses.   

December 2018 - September 2018 Interviewing as Ethical Practice: Teacher-Researchers Working With, For, and Among Emergent Bilingual Families and Communities 

Sponsorship: Russell Fellowship, Graduate School of Education, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA, $9,000 US

The purpose of this study is to analyze ‘teachers as researchers’ in the ELTPC EECLD 6001 Culturally Responsive Teaching course. The Key Assignment requires educators to interview an emergent bilingual (1) student, (2) family member, and (3) community member. This study hopes to explore how much we prepare educators to be ethical researchers through analysis of recorded teacher-participant interviews, with the hopes to gain knowledge of how to further humanizing research practices with emergent bilingual communities.

February 2018 - September 2016

Culturally Responsive Teaching through Arts-Integration: A Community-based Literacy Approach for Elementary English Language Learners

Sponsorship: Junior Faculty Fellowship, Center for Teaching and Learning, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA, $9,524 US

Qualitative investigation supported by a Junior Faculty Fellowship doing a critical ethnography in Boston Public Schools. It is a collaborative (teachers and researcher) classroom-based study aimed at supporting elementary emergent bilingual learners (i.e. ELLs) in gaining English language acquisition, as well as furthering all students’ cultural awareness, through the application of multimodal literacies, such as drama, poetry, and digital media, in local multilingual classrooms. 

September 2014 - April 2012 Learning out of the Ordinary: Critical Literacies with Street Youth

Sponsorship: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CA, BREB: H12-02736, $4,200 CA

Doctoral Research doing a critical ethnography investigating how a political, community-based theatre production can be considered an alternative educational space for youth who were or had been living on the streets. Specifically, I return to do post interviews with youth about how their educational histories and how applied theatre methods cultivated dialogue and social action in collectively created pedagogical spaces.




August 2021 - December 2020

Providing Equitable and Accessible Educational Programs During a Pandemic: Where Leadership Structures Meet Instructional Practice

Principal Investigator: Dr. Bob Esliger and Co-Investigators: Drs. Marian Riedel, Amanda Wager and Rachel Moll

Sponsorship: Explore Grant $2000 CA and Innovate Grant $2445 CA, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC

REB: 101090

This research sets forth to investigate what has worked, and what didn’t, in supporting students with disabilities or diverse abilities access to an equitable education in BC during this COVID-19 pandemic. District leaders regularly examine their district structures and frameworks to determine how comprehensively the diverse needs of students are being addressed. In doing this type of assessment they should also identify areas for improvement. Such an assessment has not been done during COVID-19. With substantial changes to the educational landscape due to COVID-19, this assessment is critically needed. This research will fill that gap by using pre-existing assessment frameworks to identify how the pandemic has impacted the equity of education delivery, and what is being done about it. A mixed methods approach will be utilized which acknowledges the ethical restrictions on conducting research during COVID-19 and will only utilize online surveys as well as virtual interviews and focus groups.

September 2022-September 2017

Family and Community Engagement in the English Learner Teacher-Parent Certificate Project. United States Department of Education Grant: English Language Teacher and Parent Certificate Project (ELTPC) 

Dr. Donaldo Macedo, Grant Writer, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA

Dr. Jack Levy, Principal Investigator, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Sponsorship: United States Department of Education, part of Teacher Sense-Making Grant above, $2,700,000 US

The ELTPTC is a $2.7 million grant covering a 5-year span in certifying year-long cohorts of teachers with a Certificate in Family and Community Engagement in Education. It will offer a 4-course graduate certificate program to EL and mainstream K-12 teachers of ELs with a parent involvement focus. It will also provide ESL classes to EL parents. ESL Teacher Training Program and Lesley University staff will train up to 70 teachers from urban Brockton Public Schools in Massachusetts via graduate-level coursework to improve teachers’ knowledge of English language acquisition, the role and importance of parent participation, approaches for teaching academic English to both parents and EL students, strategies for improving parent/community involvement, and ways to increase teacher leadership with support from the MA Association of Bilingual Educators (MABE) and Parents for a Global Education Association (PANGEA) and the Cape Verdean Association Community Agency. Parent ESL classes and teacher training in parent involvement will strengthen EL parent/community involvement and improve EL student academic achievement. Evaluation uses a quasi-experimental non-randomized design.

September 2018 - September 2016

Gathering Evidence to Capture Learning in Lesley Inquiry-based Science Education Curriculum

Dr. Nicole Weber, Principal Investigator, Graduate School of Education, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Sponsorship: Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA, $3,000 US

The primary goals of this project are to inform and guide teacher education in inquiry-based science education, and to gather evidence to capture learning through critical exploration. More specifically, we seek to learn how students learn within an informal and inquiry-based STEAM curriculum, and how we can best create an environment to optimize learning goals of students, parents, student-educators, and mentor teachers. As part of this process, we also seek to learn how participation in informal STEAM learning at Lesley impacts students’ learning: (1) their understanding of and interest in science and STEAM; (2) their sense of place and environmental awareness; (3) their development of critical thinking skills in STEAM contexts.

February 2017 - August 2014

Preparing Teachers to Teach Bilingual Learners:  A Study of the Influence of Sheltered English Immersion Coursework

Dr. Laura Schall-Leckrone, Principal Investigator, Division of Language and Literacy, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA, IRB Number: 13-006

Sponsorship: Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, USA, $7,000 US

Investigating, through the use of mixed-methods, how classroom teaching skills and personal knowledge of culturally responsive pedagogy may have changed for early childhood educators who have taken the new mandatory Sheltered English Instruction endorsement course in Massachusetts. 

November 2011 - November 2008 Vancouver Street Youth Reveal the Social, Political and Cultural Dimensions that Impact their Lives through Ethnodrama   

Dr. Peter Granger, Principal Investigator

Sponsorship: Faculty of Medicine, Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CA, BREB: H08-02712, $8,000 CA + $1,000 CA honorarium

Doctoral research doing a critical ethnography that investigated how a political, community-based theatre production can be considered an alternative educational space for youth who were or had been living on the streets to explore the multidimensional factors that influence their health. Project was initiated by eight street youth who invited me to co-create a theatre performance regarding the closures of the underage safe houses in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 





October  2021 - October 2020

Research-based Theatre: Dramatically increasing knowledge mobilization 

Drs. George Belliveau, Sue Cox and Tal Jarus, Principal Investigators, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada

Sponsorship: Social Science and Humanities Research Council Individual Connection Grant, CA, $25,000 CA

Research-based Theatre is an innovative research methodology that transforms data into dramatic performances (Belliveau and Lea, 2016). It is a relatively new, inherently collaborative methodology, inviting all participants to take part in embodied data collection, analysis, and knowledge mobilization activities, which encompasses the process of writing, rehearsing, and performing a research-based monologue, scene, or play (Belliveau, 2014; Gray and Kontos, 2018). The University of British Columbia (UBC) Research-based Theatre Collaborative supports the exploration of theatre as a mode of knowledge mobilization that brings research to life. 

January 2020 - January 2019 UBC Interdisciplinary Research-Based Theatre Collaborative 

Dr. George Belliveau, Principal Investigator, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada

Sponsorship: 2018 Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters, UBC, CA, $100,000 CA

This cluster grant establishes an internationally robust and interdisciplinary Collaborative for Research-Based Theatre (RBT) that supports exploration of theatre as a methodology and mode of knowledge translation that can bring research to life and promote collaborative initiatives between researchers and community members. RBT is a dynamic mode of knowledge translation, as it provokes and educates, while simultaneously catalyzes dialogues to address and challenge critical social issues. Through the careful and ethical dramatization of data, RBT humanizes findings and inspires change through thoughtful and heartfelt engagement.

September 2021 - September 2018

Yúusnewas (taking care of each other): Life Promotion through Indigenous Youth Community Capacity-building 

Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos, Principal Investigator, University of Toronto, Toronto, OT, Canada

Sponsorship: Social Science and Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grant, CA, $199,836 CA

This qualitative research project, with seven collaborators, incorporates Indigenous research methodologies and will examine how processes of decolonization and resurgence in critical Suicidology can become creatively engaged with the INW movement, opening up new spaces for critical participatory suicidology research with Indigenous youth in Canada.

Graduate Research Assistant


2009 -

September 2014

Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Theresa Rogers 

Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CA

  • Created online graduate level course for LLED 454/565 Adolescent Literacies
  • Facilitated the creation of a documentary film for iTunes University, educating the public about the challenges of youth homelessness
  • Assisted in analyzing research for a UBC Andrew’s Grant (2010): Informal Literacy and Learning Among Street Youth
May 2009 - February 2013

Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Jan Hare 

Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CA

Contributed to curriculum writing to a course regarding Early Elementary Aboriginal Language Revitalization.

October - December 2009

Graduate Research Assistant for Drs. Geoff Williams and Jan Hare 

Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CA

Researched global scholars in the field of Indigenous Language Revitalization.

September 2008 - July 2009 Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. George Belliveau 

Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, CA

Did research-based theatre and participatory drama research and analysis for a SSHRC funded grant Shakespeare in the Elementary Classroom in two Vancouver public Montessori classrooms: Grades 1, 2, 3 and Grades 4 and 5.