The Pat Clifford Award

This year's deadline:
31 May 2017

Recognizing Canada’s Emerging Education Researchers


Do you know a talented researcher who’s breaking new ground by revisiting commonly held assumptions in education policy, practice or theory in Canada?

The CEA’s 2017 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education builds visibility for researchers who have the potential to transform Canadian public education.

File 75042016 Pat Clifford Award Winner Dr. Lori Prasad Lessard – with CEA President & CEO Ron Canuel. 

Deadline for applications: Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 5 pm PDT (Pacific daylight time)


The Recognition

  • Formal recognition of your research at a public, education-related event.
  • Opportunities for you to develop additional knowledge mobilization strategies with CEA to maximize the impact of your work in the policy and practice fields.
  • An invitation for you to publish a feature article about your research in Education Canada magazine.

Who can apply? / Who may be nominated for the award?

  • Applicants must be in the process of completing a Masters or PhD OR have completed a Masters or PhD in the last 2 years (from date of convocation)
  • Applicants may be from faculties of education or other related disciplines, school boards, provincial or territorial departments of education, educational or other organizations, or research consultants
  • Applicants can either nominate themselves or be nominated by another person

Qualifications of Applicants/Nominees

  • Individuals with demonstrable promise in educational research as evidenced by completed research papers/projects, letters of reference, and any research awards or citations.
  • Those who show promise of making a significant contribution to educational concepts, theory, policy and/or practice through their research, as evidenced by: the description of work, its importance and impact with respect to one or more of CEA’s program priorities, as well as plans for knowledge mobilization and dissemination. 

 General Selection Criteria

1.      Quality

  • Innovative and opens up new areas of research or extend research in existing areas;
  • Research work that is well-grounded conceptually and theoretically, with clear and compelling writing, and which demonstrates the use of adequate and appropriate research methodology; and
  • Demonstrates evidence of early career promise (publications, research project reports/papers). 

2.      Contribution and Impact

  • A promising contribution to improving educational policy and/or practice in education;
  • A promising contribution to improving concept and theory development in education;
  • Demonstrated understanding of how their work can be mobilized to make a contribution and have an impact.

3.      Relevance

A body of work which is relevant and makes a significant contribution to transforming education in one of the following CEA program priorities:

  • Student Engagement: research that furthers ideas, knowledge and practices that deeply engage students in learning with a particular focus on transforming learning environments for adolescent learners.  Research that broadens and deepens current understanding of learning as the basis on which educational policy and practice should be built.
  • Teacher Engagement: research that furthers knowledge of how teaching and learning reinforce each other as reciprocal processes; how teaching can be engaging for both teachers and students; how teachers can be supported to teach the way they aspire to; and how teachers understand their own learning. 

Application Preparation


The application must contain a cover sheet along with the following attachments:

  • Curriculum vitae (maximum of 5 pages);
  • A brief description of the applicant’s work, its importance and impact with respect to CEA’s program priorities and general selection criteria (maximum of 500 words);
  • An assessment by the nominator or applicant of the promising contribution to educational research in Canada and its impact on the pan-Canadian scene (maximum of 500 words);
  • If nominated: One (1) additional reference letter (maximum of 250 words);
  • If self-nominated: Two (2) letters of reference (maximum of 250 words);
  • Application submissions must not exceed specified word count maximums (excluding CV). The Nominations Committee will not receive or review submission material above the specified word count.
  • Copy of two (2) abstracts and/or executive summaries of your research project reports or papers
  • Optional: summaries of articles pending confirmation of publication and/or the applicant's intention for future submissions within his/her area of interest.

The Application must be received electronically by e-mail to in PDF format only. The total size of all attachments cannot exceed ten (10) megabytes of information. All applications that do not meet these strict specifications will be discarded.

The application deadline is 5 pm PDT (Pacific daylight time), Wednesday, May 31, 2017.


CEA will email a confirmation upon receipt of the application. 

The Pat Clifford Award recognizes the work of emerging researchers – their groundbreaking contributions and their commitment to advancing research that has the potential to transform Canadian public education.


2016 Pat Clifford Award Winner: Harnessing the True Learning Potential of Multilingual Classrooms
Dr. Gail Prasad’s research highlighting the benefits of culturally and linguistically inclusive classrooms has the potential to reshape the way teachers support language learners across Canada.

File 7294

The CEA is proud to recognize Dr. Gail Prasad – Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the department of Curriculum and Instruction, and PhD graduate of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto – as the recipient of the 2016 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education. This prestigious award is in recognition of her work in redefining the ways in which teachers can maximize learning for allstudents in our increasingly multilingual classrooms.

Dr. Prasad’s Indian-Japanese Canadian background – growing up in a household where her parents and extended family spoke a wide range of languages – spurred her fascination for language and identity. Leveraging her experience as a former classroom teacher and strong desire to connect with every learner, Dr. Prasad has boldly and successfully collaborated with groups of multilingual elementary students as co-investigators of their language experiences by using a highly creative arts-based approach that incorporated photography, drawing, and multilingual bookmaking.

These exercises led to conversations that provided Dr. Prasad with the opportunity to collect valuable data based on children’s self-expression and reflection. This not only allowed students to see their unique identities reflected in their work, but also deepened their classmates’ appreciation for cultural and linguistic diversity. Dr. Prasad’s subsequent research from these experiences highlighted in this article provides a framework for teacher education and professional development by demonstrating the benefits of incorporating students’ first languages into classroom activities. This work is especially pertinent in Canada’s increasingly diverse school systems.  

“In a knowledge-based economy where languages are important, having multilingual children share their first languages through creative expression allows all students to develop a more diverse cultural and linguistic awareness,” explains Dr. Prasad. “I see the potential for this shift in language education in Canada to be one that not only supports official bilingualism, but also positions us to leverage the rich diversity that we have in our nation.”

The Pat Clifford Award Selection Committee was impressed with the creativity and originality of Dr. Prasad’s work, including her inclusion of children as co-investigators. 

“Gail’s research has the potential to shift our current approach to language education by capitalizing on the ever-increasing student diversity in our classrooms,” says Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Chair of the Pat Clifford Award Selection Committee.

Dr. Prasad’s current research examines how linguistically-inclusive teaching practices – that sustain students’ cultural identities and expand their language skills – can be implemented across K-12 school settings. At the elementary level, she is working with Kindergarten to Grade 5 teachers to design multilingual, project-based learning activities across subject areas including Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. At the middle and high school level, she is working to support Master’s-level teacher candidates and their students through designing activities that bring more intercultural understanding and multilingual awareness to the classroom.


1. Q&A Interview with Dr. Prasad 

2. I am plurilingual!  Je suis plurilingue! Project Website

About the Pat Clifford Award

About Pat Clifford

Pat Clifford was one of the co-founders of The Galileo Educational Network, which is based in Calgary, Alberta. Pat had an extensive teaching background from primary through graduate level, and was the recipient of numerous awards for both research and teaching practice. Pat passed away in August of 2008 but she left a gift to us in her teaching, scholarly writing, poetry and stories. As a teacher, Pat was steadfast in her belief that each child had the right to succeed brilliantly, and brought to them her own love of literature, writing and history. This award is dedicated to her memory.