Recent Submissions

  • Exploring the Impact of a Teacher Education Program on the Mathematical Anxieties of Elementary Pre-Service Teachers

    Gannon, Sarah; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Mathematics education in Ontario has been a topic of significant focus in recent years. One concern is the lack of strong elementary mathematics teachers, in part due to the high levels of mathematics anxiety amongst this population (Gresham, 2007; Novak & Tassell, 2017). This study investigated the impact of a teacher education program on elementary pre-service teachers’ mathematical anxieties. The study examined the main components of a consecutive teacher education program, namely mathematics methods courses and field experiences, their interrelationships, and their connections with pre-service teachers’ background experiences. This explanatory sequential mixed methods approach emphasized qualitative methods (i.e., quan → QUAL) and involved two distinct phases. In Phase 1, quantitative questionnaire data were collected from the nine elementary pre-service teacher participants and analyzed using descriptive statistics. These results were then connected to the individual interview protocols employed in Phase 2 to collect qualitative data, which were analyzed thematically using the constant comparative method to uncover six themes: (a) prior experiences with mathematics, (b) anxieties towards mathematics, (c) the influence of mathematics methods courses on mathematical anxieties, (d) the influence of field experiences on mathematical anxieties, (e) the synthesis of mathematics methods courses and field experiences, and (f) anticipated future mathematics teaching style. This study’s results address gaps in the existing literature and highlight the key impacts of teacher education programs on pre-service teachers’ state and trait mathematical anxieties. Suggestions are provided for the practice of teacher educators, faculty administrators, and mentor teachers, as well as implications for theory and recommendations for future research.
  • Colorism: An Understanding of the Multiplicity of Voices Among Black Women and How Their Experiences Inform Their Postsecondary Lives

    Campbell, Hyacinth; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    In my M.Ed. program, I reflected on and applied a social and cultural lens to my experiences with colorism. Through this process of reflection and my review of anti-racist literature I began to question how the hegemonic discourses of race and racism reinforced a Black-White binary. These questions led me to explore Black women’s often intricate and complex experiences with colorism that are not always talked about. Using a qualitative narrative inquiry to this study, I explored six racialized Black female student’s experience with colorism to understand how colorism informed their lives on campus. By means of purposeful convenience sampling, I heard about their understanding of colorism, experiences as Black women, how colorism informed their experience in the academy, and explored the implications for postsecondary. The theoretical framework that guided my research was Critical Race Theory (CRT). A semi-structured one-on-one interview approach was used to prepare general questions to guide the discussion. The findings revealed that participants learned about colorism at an early age. Apart from skin tone, phenotypic features were attached to their experience with colorism. The findings also showed that some participants conflated colorism and racism and connected their understanding of or experiences with colorism with dominant ideology. Finally, the results also revealed ways in which the participants resisted the multiple issues that intersected and had implications in their daily lives. Some issues included the harmful stereotypes affixed to Black women and how the messages they received informed their choices and reinforced some of the negative images about Black women’s hair. I aimed to bring awareness to the intricacies of colorism and the ways in which the participants used their agency to push back and resist colorism.
  • How to Mend a ‘Good’ Education: A Settler Autoethnography

    Miller, Sarah; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Though White Settler educators who profess a critical pedagogy take up the project of decolonization with heartfelt enthusiasm, many of them remain unaware of the ways they unconsciously embody, and are complicit in, reproducing colonial structures. This autoethnography tells the story of my attempt to confront a similar dissonance in my teaching practice. My central question “How can I teach towards social justice and against oppression when my Whiteness represents the very structures of marginalization I oppose?” could only be answered by moving beyond the classroom and examining the deeply personal ways that colonial structures and narratives shaped, and continue to shape, all aspects of my identity. I drew data from my personal journals, a “writing” story composed during the research process, and longer form vignettes written in response to the initial stages of data collection. Wall’s (2016) Moderate Ethnography informed my analysis. I used the concepts of Whiteness-as-Property and White- Complicity to help contextualize my experience and employed Aoki’s (1994) Curriculum-as-Lived and the theory of Epistemological Pluralism as tools to understand the connections between personal and professional decolonization. Though more research is needed, this project suggests that for meaningful decolonization to take place there must be an earnest desire on the part of White Settlers (educators and non-educators alike) to attend to their personal complicity in colonialism.
  • Sexual Health Education (SHE) in Ontario: Exploring a Sample of the Public Discourse Surrounding the 2015 Update to Ontario’s Human Development and Sexual Health Curriculum

    Dent, Elissa; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    In an increasingly hypersexualized culture, Canadian youth face challenges (e.g., increased risk for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, social ostracization and bullying, and mental health challenges) associated with sexuality and sexual health (Brady & Halpern-Felsher, 2007; Drouin, Ross, & Tobin, 2015; Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC], 2008) on their way to adulthood. The need for relevant sexual health education that helps youth make healthy and informed choices is well established (Bourke, Boduszek, Kellher, McBride, & Morgan, 2014; Frappier et al., 2008; Reis, Ramiro, Matos, & Diniz, 2011). Ontario, as part of its ongoing comprehensive curricular review and revision processes, updated the Human Development & Sexual Health curriculum, a central component of the province’s Health and Physical Education curriculum. The comprehensive revision to the Human Development & Sexual Health curriculum released initially in 2010, and again in 2015, was met with both support and controversy. The purpose of this research study was to explore a portion of the public discourse surrounding the province of Ontario’s 2015 update to the Grades 1 through 8 Human Development & Sexual Health curricula. Specifically, the research investigated documentation from six key stakeholder groups: i) news organizations; ii) parents; iii) field-related professionals; iv) non-governmental organizations; v) lobby groups; and vi) the provincial government. Using qualitative document analyses techniques, data sources were described and analyzed. An identification and summary of main themes are offered. Finally, implications for future educational policy reforms and recommendations for future research are addressed.
  • Freirean Radical Love and Transformative Empathy: The Multimodal Literacies of Adolescent Social Media Activism

    Michaels, Natasha Roseline; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    The evolution of social media activism calls for a critique into the commonly accepted trope of adolescent political apathy and naivety. In this study, I explore specific examples of adolescents’ strategic use of social media platforms such as Instagram to disseminate and circulate their political beliefs. I trace a selection of memes used for spreading awareness of current social justice issues such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2013 to the #StudentStandUp movement of 2018. The memes used in these social movements demonstrate how adolescents create and/or circulate memes and multimodal texts with the intention of forging empathetic connections (through words and images) to affect others into political action against social injustices. Drawing upon critical affect literacy and a Freirean model of Radical Love (1970/2005) – or an action-based love for humanity- I apply lenses of critique to examples of memes and discussions that adolescents have on online to demonstrate how critical literacy evolves and reveals their capacity to recognize and repeat patterns as a tool for sophisticated communication. The study reveals that adolescents are satisfying mandates of the Ontario English Curriculum while attesting to their empathetic use of a voluntary, leisurely, space of social media. I draw upon Dawkins (1976/2006) framework of cultural idea-meme evolution and couple it with the Foucauldian (1975/2008) idea of power relations to establish the foundational idea that power is present in the cultural competition of ideas, that creates the inequities adolescents are critiquing in social media. The study concludes that adolescents are competently using, circulating and/or creating memes to inspire revolution while demonstrating critical literacy skills.
  • Enhancing Physical Activity Through SEESAW: Exploring Effectiveness and Educators' Perceptions

    Barratt, Jaime; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Preschoolers are generally assumed to be innately active (Santrock, Mackenzie-Rivers, Malcomson, & Leung, 2011). However, ParticipACTION (2018) found only 62% of preschoolers are engaging in the recommended amount of at least 180 minutes of physical activity each day. Guided by the belief that interpersonal relationships directly influence children’s physical activity (Stokols, 1996), this mixed-methods study examined the effectiveness of SEESAW on preschooler’s physical activity and asked: i. How does SEESAW impact preschool children’s physical activity behaviours? ii. What is the nature of educators’ beliefs and practices in relation to children’s physical activity and their role in promoting that activity? iii. Are these beliefs and practices impacted by a resource such as SEESAW, and if so, how? iv. How effective is the SEESAW resource from educators’ perspectives? Data collection occurred once in Autumn 2018 and again in Winter of 2019 using the OSRAC-P, IPAQ, and semi-structured interviews. Paired-samples t-tests found children’s standing and gross motor behaviours significantly changed after SEESAW was implemented, while educators’ physical activity did not. No significant results were found when variables associated with SEESAW were tested as predictors to children’s activity. Thematic analysis of educator interview scripts found educators’ beliefs and practices increased after SEESAW was implemented.
  • Enhancing Instruction in a Changing World: Kindergarten Educators Implementing Technology to Support Student Reading Development

    St Hilaire, Rachel; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    With the rapid integration of technology into classrooms, educators are experiencing challenges in implementing technology into their Kindergarten programs. This study sought to identify ways to help Kindergarten educators enhance reading instruction with technology-infused lessons. This research drew on Dewey’s theory of progressivism, as well as Mishra and Koehler’s Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) conceptual model. The study employed qualitative methods through a design-based research approach that included 2 teacher and 2 ECE participants who engaged in 3 training and reflective meetings with the researcher and created and implemented technology-enhanced reading lessons over 12 sessions. Data collection included fieldnotes, interviews, and surveys. Data analysis techniques involved open-ended and axial coding to derive themes that illustrated the data set. Results indicated that support can be provided to educators by recognizing and anticipating their needs, using differentiation, researcher problem solving, iterative professional learning cycles, and liaising with administration. Additionally, findings show that participants changed over the course of the study with attitudinal shifts, increased skills and knowledge of SMART Boards, and technology-enhanced practices. Lastly, findings show that the participants experienced numerous external and internal barriers, but were also able to identify ways to mitigate the barriers. Overall, this research provides implications for practice, research, and theory that can be used to implement effective pedagogy and programming for Kindergarten educators to support students’ reading development through technology enhanced practices.
  • Student Equity and Inclusive Education Policy in Ontario: Perspectives of Three High School Principals

    Nyereyemhuka, Nyasha; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Embracing diversity within schools is a complex endeavour. Data on student achievement in Ontario’s urban high schools indicate a disconnect between the expectation of equitable and inclusive education as stated in the Ontario Ministry of Education’s (2014) vision, Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario, and the social realities of discriminatory barriers in schools. This study employed semi-structured interviews to obtain the perspectives of 3 urban high school principals on the implementation of policies that support the goal of ensuring equity—identified as a key goal in Achieving Excellence. Findings suggest that the interconnectivity of policies, how principals translate policy messages, and the character traits associated with leadership are factors that muddy the implementation process in urban high schools. It was suggested that policy implementation is not static and occurs in a fluid system consisting of individuals with differing lived experiences, beliefs, and intersectional identities. Emphasizing the delicate state of Ontario’s current political climate, participants proposed the dismantling of tokenism and assumptions placed on principals, the incorporation of practical support in professional development, and changing the pathologizing nature of teacher professional judgment as strategies to improve principal policy implementation.
  • Integrating Artful Practices as a Sustainable and Innovative Approach to French Language Learning

    Taylor, Holly E; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    This study investigated the successes and barriers that surround the implementation of artful practices into French elementary classrooms within Ontario. The literature demonstrates that integrating the arts has many benefits, allowing students to become more engaged and kinaesthetically involved in their language learning. By examining the narratives of educators who use music and the arts as a teaching tool, this narrative inquiry explored the experiences of teachers integrating the arts into their teaching practices, and also identified the supports needed to implement more elements of the arts into the French programs of teachers who may not be implementing arts-based strategies. Along with my own personal narrative as a co-participant, the remaining 2 participants were engaged in their storied landscapes through qualitative interviews, focusing specifically on what Dewey (1938) refers to as the nature of experience. Particularly, the relationships between teachers and the arts, and teachers and French were examined to uncover how these relationships have affected their teaching experiences with this integration.
  • The Experience of International Students in Ontario Universities

    Klodt, Leslie; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    This thesis uses qualitative research methods to examine the experiences of international students in universities across Ontario. The number of international students in Canada is significant, with over 494,525 foreign students in 2017 (Katem, 2018). However, little research has focused on experiences of international undergraduate students within Canada. My research goal was to allow international students to speak to their own experiences. As part of my research, I conducted interviews with six international students studying in Ontario universities, and coded the data to determine themes that emerged. Themes included reasons for attending university in Ontario, the cost of education, social connections within the province, and discrimination faced within their communities and university environments. Analysis of the recorded data was completed using grounded theory. This research shows areas in which Ontario universities are doing well in supporting their international students, while also providing improvement suggestions for other areas of support.
  • Stay, Play, and Talk: A Peer-Mediated Social Skills Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Social Communication Difficulties (Phase IV)

    Mallabar, Sheri; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Stay, Play, And Talk: A Peer-Mediated Social Skills Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Other Social Communication Difficulties is in its fourth phase of research within a Kindergarten classroom in Ontario, Canada. Its purpose was to introduce a peer-mediated social skills program while observing the effects on peer-to-peer socialization operations and skills increases for those children identified as having social communication difficulties or the characteristics of ASD. Results indicate that all three participants demonstrated an increase in their social communication skills with their typically-developing peers.
  • Self-Regulated Learning and Psychomotor Skill Development in Second-Year Veterinary Students

    Joy, Andria; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Previous studies have shown that students who use self-regulated learning strategies have demonstrated improved academic, sport, and medical psychomotor skill mastery. In veterinary education, deliberate practice is currently the educational model for psychomotor skill development in veterinary students. However, with the advent of clinical skills labs, students are expected to self-direct their own development of psychomotor skills, such as suturing, intravenous (IV) catheter placement, and physical exams. Self-directed learning requires the use of self-regulated learning strategies. This research study demonstrates the effect of introducing self-regulated learning theory and deliberate practice theory versus introducing only deliberate theory on the suturing abilities of second-year veterinary students at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It was theorized that students who use self-regulated learning strategies and deliberate practice to master their skills would out-perform those students who only used deliberate practice. This was not demonstrated with this research and may have been due to the intervention which involved the introduction of these theories to both the test and control group, or to the small group size that resulted from attrition from this research project.
  • Collaboration to Support ESL Instruction

    Vintan, Ana; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Collaboration in English as a Second Language (ESL) education holds potential for consistency and efficiency in pedagogical planning for English Language Learners (ELLs), and supports ELLs’ needs through targeted instructional strategies. This study sought to investigate these processes of collaboration, and was guided by three research questions: (a) How do ESL teachers describe collaboration to provide support for ELLs? (b) What opportunities do ESL teachers have for collaboration, and how are ESL teachers supported in creating a collaborative environment? (c) How do ESL teachers collaborate with in-school teams of educators to use instructional resources (digital and/or non-digital) to promote oral and written language instruction with ELLs? The research adopted a case study approach to explore how ESL teachers collaborate with educational professionals within ESL education. Qualitative data included classroom observations while ESL teachers collaborated with teachers and other educational professionals in the classroom. Semi-structured interviews explored how ESL teachers described collaboration within ESL education, opportunities ESL teachers had for collaboration, how ELS teachers are professionally supported to integrate resources (digital and/or non-digital) within classroom instruction, as well as teachers’ understandings and apprehensions about using technology to support literacy instruction for ELLs. Overall, the findings indicate that ESL teacher participants expressed a desire to collaborate, and took initial steps to facilitate collaboration with educational professionals, but expressed that the current educational climate does not provide sufficient resources for deep-rooted and authentic collaboration. Informal collaboration occurred more frequently than formal or scheduled collaboration.
  • Early Adolescents' Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Gender Representations in Video Games

    Liu, Helen; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    This study investigated adolescents’ perception and attitudes towards gender representation in video game covers, and the degree to which these depictions may influence their notions on gender and identification. Seventeen participants ranging from ages 12 and 13 from an independent boarding and day school in Ontario participated in semi-structured interviews to explore this topic. Data were analyzed using a qualitative approach. The study’s conceptual framework encompassed social cognitive theory, gender schema theory, and cultivation theory. Findings suggest that gender representation in video games does influence the majority of participants’ notions of gender; however, there are differences between how males and females approach, interpret, and respond to this type of media. Findings also showcased that evidence of implicit bias was detected in both male and female participants, demonstrated through inconsistencies in their responses. Finally, the findings revealed a significant lack of identification from the majority of participants with video game characters, as many participants were able to clearly distinguish between simulated and real-life experiences. Through this investigation, the present study aimed to precipitate awareness and to provide better understanding about gender and identity in relation to video game playing.
  • Investigating Kurdish Women’s Experiences With Education in Kurdistan With Respect to Oppression

    Abuzeyit, Gulan; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    The following thesis provides a qualitative study that sought to answer the question: What do Kurdish women’s experiences reveal about women’s education in Kurdistan with respect to oppression? The study was framed within a postcolonial feminist framework to investigate Kurdish women’s lived experiences within education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The study used feminist research methods to collect and analyze data. Through purposeful sampling, 5 Kurdish women living in the KRI were recruited and interviewed by the researcher through one-on-one, semi-structured interviews. The researcher used an interpretive approach for data analysis to investigate participants’ experiences as women and as members of an ethnic minority. The study was conducted through a postcolonial feminist lens, which highlighted the unique social categories in which Kurdish women find themselves. The study found that the women’s lived experiences were determined by the intersections of gender, ethnicity, religion, location, SES, and age, among other social categories. Such categories affect women’s quality of life, freedom, and education, as identified by the women themselves. Further, the women identified the following factors acting as barriers that impede their equal access to education and opportunities: gender norms, family, culture, distance, disability, language, and conflict. The study also lays out how women make sense of and cope with such barriers and inequality, before concluding with recommendations for changes based on participants’ knowledge and lived experiences.
  • Pre-Service Teachers’ Experiences With Curriculum Integration: A Qualitative Study

    Lowe, Rachel; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Curriculum integration is being adopted worldwide in the 21st century. However, in-service and pre-service teachers often receive little or no training in curriculum integration upon graduating university, which often makes them ill-prepared to implement this strategy. Moreover, because the term lacks universality and clarity in both theory and implementation, it has become a source of confusion and anxiety for educators. This qualitative study examined the amount of curriculum integration training received by teacher candidates at a medium-sized university in Southern Ontario in completing their final year of schooling. The study’s primary purpose was to determine the degree of curriculum integration training teacher candidates had received during their university career as well as their comfort levels in implementing curriculum integration upon graduation. The study also sought to identify the knowledge base of curriculum integration that these teachers had acquired during their time in university. Convenience sampling was used to select students in their final year of teacher certification. Twenty- five participants from both concurrent and consecutive teacher education programs were recruited and the data were collected solely through face-to-face interviews. General thematic analysis was used to analyze and identify patterns within the qualitative data. The results indicated that many teachers did not have a sufficient knowledge base of curriculum integration upon graduation, and did not appear to be familiar with the various methods of curriculum integration. Finally, the study found that teacher candidates felt uncomfortable integrating curricula in their own classrooms. Results are discussed in terms of teacher training, teaching practice, and further research.
  • An Autoethnography on the Liminal Spaces in an Intensive Care Unit

    Nezavdal, Aimee; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Liminality is an in-between space that, as for the teenager who is neither fully child nor adult, accompanies new norms, routines, and expectations while simultaneously remaining in flux. This thesis explores the history of liminality, its presence in the literature, and then applies Victor Turner’s notion of liminality to various as-yet unexplored aspects of a hospital, its Intensive Care Unit, and life itself within this context. In this autoethnography, the author, an ICU nurse, identifies and describes such liminal spaces as the Code Blue where a patient is neither dead nor alive, the challenge of caring for patients for whom the nurse believes treatments to be futile, and the ways in which the nurse finds humour within a context of death. Fictional literature is employed throughout to demonstrate how liminality feels to the author, who invites the reader to look behind the hospital room curtain and see what the ICU nurse sees.
  • Peer Attitudes Towards Students With Exceptionalities in the Classroom

    Henning, Megan; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    This concurrent triangulation mixed methods research project sought to investigate inconsistencies in the current literature regarding student attitudes towards their peers who have exceptionalities. The study encompassed 27 student participants across primary, junior, and intermediate divisions in a Southwestern Ontario school who were involved in classroom discussions, questionnaires, and individual interviews with the goal of identifying elementary school-aged students’ attitudes towards their peers who have exceptionalities in the classroom. Using an appreciative inquiry lens, data collection prompted students to recall positive memories they may have shared with peers who have exceptionalities. An emergent thematic analysis and triangulation of multiple data sources revealed that students acknowledge differences between students with exceptionalities and other same-aged peers; however, students consistently communicated their intent to support all students within their classrooms. While study findings also indicated that students demonstrated an understanding of the importance of inclusion, further research is needed regarding their actual behaviour.
  • Use of Tablets to Support Students’ 21st Century Skills: A Look Behind the Screen at Knowledge Construction, Collaboration, and Skilled Communication in Language Arts and Science

    Tkach, Rochelle; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    This study sought to identify how the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), specifically tablets, may foster students’ 21st century skills of knowledge construction, collaboration, and skilled communication and may further support knowledge construction in science, reading comprehension, and vocabulary development. This mixed methods research explored 21 Grade 5 students’ tablet (iPad) screen interactions and audio recordings, blog posts, interview responses, researcher observations, and student artifacts during an interdisciplinary science and language arts unit. Students worked in pairs or small groups on iPads to learn science and language arts concepts. Qualitative data were collected using video and audio monitoring tools (NestCams, 2016). Using NVivo 11.4, qualitative data were coded using the 21 CLD Learning Activity Rubrics (Microsoft Corporation, 2015). Queries were further run to determine data that correlated between the use of tablets for learning and other 21st century skills. Findings showed high instances of 21st century skills while students worked on tablets. The way students used tablets to support their learning seemed to depend on the level of knowledge construction, collaboration, and skilled communication. Quantitative data were also collected using reading comprehension, vocabulary, and science pre- and post-tests. Dependent samples t-tests were run to determine if there was growth from pre-test to post-test. Results indicated statistically significant growth only in science content knowledge. Qualitative findings were triangulated with the quantitative results to illustrate descriptive growth trends in science and language arts. This study highlights the importance of being critical towards multimodal features within apps to support students’ development of 21st century skills and subject-specific knowledge. Recommendations and implications for theory, practice, and methodological approaches are provided for future studies.
  • Power Relations in Early Childhood Education: A Case Study of Perceptions, Space, and Place

    Jobb, Cory; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
    Shifting philosophical and pedagogical stances in early childhood settings have resulted in two binarized positions, where philosophy and pedagogy are frequently understood as either child-centred, or teacher-directed practice. These stances have ontological and epistemological implications for the power relations between Early Childhood Educators and young children. Drawing from multiple theoretical frameworks, including reconceptualist theory in early childhood education, children’s geographies, and the work of Michel Foucault, in this qualitative three-phase case study I explored how power relations are enacted within one preschool classroom in Southern Ontario, and how power relations are affected when viewing the environment through the lens of place and space. Using semi-structured interviews, classroom observation, and reflective journaling with a teaching team of two Early Childhood Educators, this study sought to answer the following two research questions: first, what are the ways in which power relations are enacted within one early learning environment? Second, how do educators’ perceptions of the environment as place and space contribute to the ways in which power relations are enacted? The findings from this study suggested that power was enacted within one early childhood setting in a multitude of ways. The findings are organized under four key themes: interrelational power; regulatory power; power and temporality; and power, space, and place. The findings suggest that power is a negotiated entity between children and Early Childhood Educators, and that viewing the environment as place may encourage a reconceptualization of traditionally hierarchical power dynamics between educators and young children.

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