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Student Learning Experience

Learning Outcomes Assessment project sharing results

Queen’s a leader in research measuring how students gain critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.

After four years of collecting and analyzing data, the Queen’s Learning Outcomes Assessment (LOA) project is about to publish and share its findings with other universities across North America.

Learning Outcomes Assessment
The Queen’s Learning Outcomes Assessment (LOA) project collected and analyzed data over a four-year period, and will soon publish and share its findings. (University Communications)  

The project implementation began back in September 2013. That’s when nearly 2,000 first year students took a set of standardized assessment tests during their classes, and allowed exams and assignments from some of their courses to be studied. At the same time, a group of fourth year students were also sampled from the same departments using the same tests. Once the research team had these baseline result in hand, they then tested the first year group again in their second, third and fourth years. The goal was to measure and track four important student learning outcomes as they progressed through Queen’s, namely, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and lifelong learning.

“We started out simply wanting to find out whether or not we could demonstrate in a reliable and valuable way the growth of those skills over four years with our students, and if yes, by how much” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “We learned that without a doubt our students gain in skills and that Queen’s students were well placed compared against other schools in other jurisdictions such as the United States. Queen’s students started higher and ended higher which was a very positive result.”

But this wasn’t the only important focus of the LOA research project which was funded by and developed in collaboration with the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). It also aimed to study the effectiveness of the testing tools themselves.

“There are a number of different highly-standardized measurement tools out there and we wanted to see how they work and what each one can tell us about the student skills they are designed to measure,” says Dr. Brian Frank, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) and co-Principal Investigator along with Dr. Scott. “This part of the research project is valuable as it will support our assessment work and help us improve the educational experience, as well as helping other post-secondary institutions looking to incorporate some efficient and effective student learning assessments into their academic operations.”

From the start the project team used four main assessment tools, the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT), the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+), and the Transferable Learning Orientations Survey (TLO). The fourth tool was a set of validated rubrics called VALUE, which stands for Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education, developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. These rubrics were different than the tests in that they applied to a selection of assignments the students completed as part of their regular classwork. Once the assignment or assessment was marked in the regular way, the project team brought in specially trained students to rate them again to see how the students performed against the VALUE Rubrics in such areas as critical thinking and problem solving. The results were then shared with the course instructors so they could see where their students gained a lot, as well as how their assignment aligned to the learning outcomes they wanted their students to achieve.

“We learned a lot of about what works in each of these tools and what doesn’t. We also found that one of the key factors to take into account is student motivation, as their enthusiasm and participation in these types of assessments can vary greatly. For example their desire to take part in the standardized tests drops steadily as they progress through university which makes it difficult to gather comprehensive data,” says Dr. Scott.

As a result, the next phase of this research project will not attempt to track the same large group of students as they progress through Queen’s. Rather it will focus on a cross section of students in first and fourth year.

“We believe the assessment and credentialing of skills and core competencies is critical for, and is an essential component of, a high quality post-secondary education system in Ontario,” says Harvey Weingarten, HEQCO President and CEO. “That is why we are working with forward-thinking institutions across the province like Queen’s to conduct innovative research to identify reliable and valid tools that can be used to measure and improve the teaching of skills and competencies postsecondary institutions say are the hallmark of a high quality higher education.”

Phase two is also being supported by HEQCO and will again be firmly focused on building on the success of the VALUE Rubrics unveiled in phase one. This time, the project will focus on encouraging interested faculty to work with assessment facilitators to design their courses and assignments from the start to align with the learning outcomes rubrics. One standardized test will be used in parallel for comparison.

“We found both our faculty and students cared a lot about ensuring learning outcomes are embedded in their courses and work. It’s why we will be putting a lot more effort and energy into promoting and studying the rubrics as there is evidence they provide more motivation to students and better information for our instructors,” says Dr. Frank.

In another difference, the project will also be taking a new approach by creating clusters of courses in related disciplines and putting them together to create an assessment network so faculty can work together to learn about the rubrics and how to apply them.

“Phase two is already underway and we are recruiting instructors across campus to take part in this groundbreaking research,” says Dr. Scott. “There is no doubt Queen’s is a leader in studying learning outcome assessments in Canada and we have very compelling results on all fronts, in terms of what our students learned and how a project like this works, which we are excited to share and continue to study.”

The phase one results will be published in early 2018 by HEQCO. You can also learn more about the project at Queen’s and ways to take part by visiting the Learning Outcomes Assessment Project website.

Learning about Indigenous law

Students, faculty, and staff in the Faculty of Law visited the only court “for Indigenous People and by Indigenous People” in Canada to broaden their perspective.

Students, faculty, and staff in the Faculty of Law recently visited Akwesasne Mohawk Territory to learn more about the reserve’s unique court system and gain a broader perspective on how the law works in Indigenous communities.

“We wanted to ensure that the Queen’s community is fully engaged and, as responsible citizens, doing what we can to learn about both Indigenous law and culture,” says Heather Cole (Artsci’91, Law’96, MPA’00), event founder and Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Law. “I think everyone involved learned a great deal. We will continue to work with our Indigenous partners and hope to make this workshop an annual event.”

The day-long workshop began with an opening thanksgiving address, and an orientation to the community. Following the introduction, a number of speakers shone a light on how dispute resolution is handled in the territory, gave an overview of the history of the court, spoke about treaties and the drafting of laws, and took questions.

“Akwesasne is not representative of every First Nations community but, as students at law and as law educators, it is important for us all to understand that there are functioning legal systems in Canada outside of the mainstream Western paradigm,” says Kayla Stephenson (Law’18), another event organizer.

The group from the Faculty of Law, on location in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. (Supplied Photo)
The group from the Faculty of Law, on location in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. On the far right is Kayla Stephenson (Law'18). (Supplied Photo)

Akwesasne Mohawk Territory was selected as the location for this workshop for a few reasons. The community is in close proximity to Queen’s, and the region straddles modern-day New York, Ontario, and Québec which adds to its complexity as a legal jurisdiction. Among First Nations communities, Akwesasne also stands out, according to Ms. Stephenson, because of its “intricate and long-standing” legal system – a system she became familiar with both because of her personal interest, and because of her summer spent working in the community for the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Akwesasne is the first and only Indigenous community in Canada to have established a court “for Indigenous people and by Indigenous people.” The court enforces 32 civil laws, while criminal matters remain the jurisdiction of the province or the federal government.

The event wasn’t about teaching the group how to practise law in the Akwesasne reserve, but rather to educate them about Indigenous legal principles which are expected to become more important to Canada’s legal landscape in the future. “The participants were humbled to see how intricate the system is and how long the legal structure has been upheld. They were blown away at how it functions independent of any outside support,” says Ms. Stephenson.

The workshop is one of several steps the Faculty of Law is taking to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into their work, aligning with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Final Report. The Faculty is also exploring different projects with other neighbouring Indigenous communities aimed at both fostering understanding and supporting the communities.

“Our law school is committed to creating an inclusive community that is supportive of all students, and Indigenous students are an integral part of our community,” says Ms. Cole.

To learn more about Indigenous initiatives within the Queen’s Faculty of Law, please visit the Faculty’s website.

Connecting learning, research, and student experience

Participants in the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship gain valuable experience and insight into the world of research.

  • Jena Hudson, centre, talks about her experience in taking part in the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship. Ms. Hudson's fellowship took place at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.
    Jena Hudson, centre, talks about her experience in taking part in the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship. Ms. Hudson's fellowship took place at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.
  • Alyssa Aiello, centre, speaks with Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities, and Karen Samis, Assistant Director, Grants Unit & International Research Development, University Research Services.
    Alyssa Aiello, centre, speaks with Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities, and Karen Samis, Assistant Director, Grants Unit & International Research Development, University Research Services.
  • Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher, left, and Principal Daniel Woolf, right, helped recognize the students that took part in the 2017 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program.
    Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher, left, and Principal Daniel Woolf, right, helped recognize the students that took part in the 2017 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program.
  • Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher speaks with Haley Miller about the work she completed for her project "Security Through Intelligence: CSIS and the False Dichotomy of Intelligence in Public Safety."
    Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher speaks with Haley Miller about the work she completed for her project "Security Through Intelligence: CSIS and the False Dichotomy of Intelligence in Public Safety."
  • Annabel Thornton, an economics major, explains the research she conducted in her project "The Gender Wage Gap of Recent University Graduates."
    Annabel Thornton, an economics major, explains the research she conducted in her project "The Gender Wage Gap of Recent University Graduates."

The work of students who took part in the 2017 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) program was on display Monday during a special event at Stauffer Library.

Along with the poster display of each research project, the students were recognized and congratulated by Principal Daniel Woolf and Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher.

The USSRF program is an opportunity for continuing undergraduate students in social sciences, humanities, business and education to develop research skills under the guidance of a faculty researcher. The program provides meaningful opportunities to engage in discovery-based learning and to develop research and presentation skills.

A total of 22 students took part in the USSRF program, covering a wide array of research topics.

For many of the students, such as Alyssa Aiello (Artsci’18), the program provides an introduction to the research process while also working one-on-one with a faculty member.

“This was the first time I have done a project of this sort, so being considered and being accepted for this opportunity is amazing. I would never have been able to do this otherwise which is really remarkable,” she says. “Also being able to work so closely with a professor, Heather Castleden, and learn the research process was very valuable and gives you an idea earlier on whether or not you want to pursue research opportunities, which I think is invaluable.”

Many students find other platforms to display their USSRF projects such as attending conferences with their supervisor or participating in Inquiry@Queen's. Ms. Aiello’s research on the media's portrayal of Indigenous leadership in renewable energy projects recently won the top poster award at the Ontario meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers.

Several fellowships are also available to students whose projects take place at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.

Jena Hudson (Artsci’18) received one of these fellowships and worked with Christian Lloyd, BISC Academic Director and an expert on 1960s rock legend Jimi Hendrix.

She looked into the musician’s influence in England during the era and conducted searches of archives in the United Kingdom for information.

“I think that this project was particularly interesting for me because so many of these archives without undergrad research wouldn’t have been touched for a long time,” she says. “Even though there are lots of professors doing amazing research they are also busy teaching classes and other things as well. So to have an assistant to do some of the research for you was helpful to them but also an incredible opportunity for me and going forward. It definitely sparked my interest in doing research.”

For more information, visit the USSRF program website.

The next USSRF competition deadline is March 9, 2018. Send enquiries to Alexandra Pedersen, or call 613-533-2000 ext. 79399.

Fostering sustainable social change

Queen’s graduates working in Tanzania and Kenya recommend the OceanPath Fellowship to community-minded graduating students.

Two Queen’s University graduates, who each received $25,000 in funding from the OceanPath Fellowship, are now busy pursuing community-focused experiential projects in East Africa.

New Queen’s alumni Hanna Chidwick (left) and Nabeela Jivraj (right) have both received the OceanPath Fellowship. (Supplied Photo)
New Queen’s alumni Hanna Chidwick (left) and Nabeela Jivraj (right) have both received the OceanPath Fellowship. (Supplied Photo)

Hanna Chidwick (Artsci’17) and Nabeela Jivraj (Artsci’17), are two of this year's OceanPath Fellows, and are currently in Tanzania and Kenya, respectively. 

The year-long OceanPath Fellowship, coordinated by the Coady Institute, offers community-focused experiential learning opportunities to up to 12 graduating students every year from Queen’s, as well as three other universities. New graduates have the chance to bring new ideas to, and work closely with, communities to foster sustainable and positive social change – both within Canada, and around the world.

Ms. Chidwick’s project in Moshi, Tanzania – located at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro – is a partnership with the Pamoja Tunaweza Women’s Centre, a local health clinic, to build health support for elderly people.

“Because elderly people in Moshi are living longer, there are more chronic diseases such as diabetes that many have to deal with,” says Ms. Chidwick.

A view of Mount Kilimanjaro from the main road in Moshi, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Hanna Chidwick)
A view of Mount Kilimanjaro from the main road in Moshi, Tanzania. (Photo by Hanna Chidwick)

Ms. Chidwick arrived in September and is working on building peer-to-peer social supports to help seniors who may feel isolated due to taking care of family, physical immobility or lack of finances to access healthcare or social support.

“So far, the clinic staff and I have consulted with many of the elderly people in the Rau neighbourhood, along with the local chairman," she says. "It’s been interesting to see the changes in the project because of our direct engagement with the elderly so far. Building partnerships and fostering relationships with people to create a foundation for community support is key to sustainability and success. The support offered through the fellowship has been invaluable. I look forward to building on the strengths of the Moshi community by connecting directly with people and working towards a real impact.”

Staff of the Pamoja Tunaweza Women’s Centre. Left to right, back: Lillian (nurse/pharmacist), Jackson (doctor), Dorothea (staff), Leonce (nurse) and Ms. Chidwick. Left to right, front: Msechu (driver), Hilda (nurse) and Azylina (staff). (Photo credit: Hanna Chidwick)
Staff of the Pamoja Tunaweza Women’s Centre. Left to right, back: Lillian (nurse/pharmacist), Jackson (doctor), Dorothea (staff), Leonce (nurse) and Ms. Chidwick. Left to right, front: Msechu (driver), Hilda (nurse) and Azylina (staff). (Photo by Hanna Chidwick)

Meanwhile in Mikei, Kenya, Ms. Jivraj’s project is centred on the provision of access to water, sanitation and hygiene, working in partnership with Rieko Kenya, a locally-based organization run by members of the community.

The Mikei community has just begun the process of mobilizing resources to drill a deep well to serve the whole area. Since she arrived in Kenya in late September, Ms. Jivraj has been working on improving educational programs for the community until funding for more safe water sources is secured.

“The education piece will be important to drive behavioural change once additional infrastructure is available,” says Ms. Jivraj.  

The unique political situation in Kenya has put many projects on pause during the election re-run period, including action on her project. Nonetheless, Ms. Jivraj says that having the chance to connect with and learn from community members, people doing similar projects, and witnessing the practicalities of projects operating during the election period has been a valuable learning experience. 

Ms. Jivraj poses with members and volunteers of Rieko Kenya. From left to right, back: Claire, Duncan (Rieko Kenya Program Officer), Jacquelin Kabaka, Edward Kabaka (Founder and Executive Director, Rieko Kenya), Edward’s children Ashley, Desma and Mavis, Fred Kabaka (Community Volunteer), Maddie. Front left to right: Nabeela Jivraj, Cosmas (Rieko Kenya), Isaiah. (Photo credit: Nabeela Jivraj)
Ms. Jivraj poses with members and volunteers of Rieko Kenya. From left to right, back: Claire, Duncan (Rieko Kenya Program Officer), Jacquelin Kabaka, Edward Kabaka (Founder and Executive Director, Rieko Kenya), Edward’s children Ashley, Desma and Mavis, Fred Kabaka (Community Volunteer), Maddie. Front left to right: Nabeela Jivraj, Cosmas (Rieko Kenya), Isaiah. (Photo courtesy Nabeela Jivraj)

The next deadline for 2018-19 applications to the Fellowship is Nov. 16. Both Ms. Chidwick and Ms. Jivraj highly recommend the experience and are grateful for support from their professors in the Queen’s Department of Global Development Studies, particularly Paritosh Kumar.

“This experience has reinforced the importance of experiential learning,” says Ms. Chidwick. “I would encourage students with a passion for learning and working in partnership with a community to reach out to their professors and apply.”

“As a Life Sciences student, having the opportunity to work in a practical setting during my degree was both unique and formative. I’ve also learned a lot about myself during the process,” says Ms. Jivraj. “I’d definitely recommend the fellowship to students from any discipline who have a passion for working with people, and are up for a challenge!”

Students interested in applying for the fellowship can contact Queen’s Oceanpath Advisor, Katie Fizzell in Queen’s Career Services.

Seeking to make an impact

The Social Impact Summit provides unique opportunities for Queen's students and the broader community to learn from leading academics and practitioners.

Across the globe people are keenly aware of how social and environmental factors are critical to the health and prosperity of our communities. As efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are pursued by business, governments, and communities worldwide, students from the Smith School of Business are seeking to make their impact.

Social Impact Summit Speakers
Among the list of speakers for the 13th annual Social Impact Summit are, clockwise from top left: Valérie Courtois, Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative; Zita Cobb, co-founder and CEO of the Shorefast Foundation and Innkeeper of the Fogo Island Inn; Geoff Green, founder and President of Students on Ice Foundation; and Chef Michael Smith and Chastity Smith, proprietors of The Inn at Bay Fortune.

Hosted by Smith’s Centre for Social Impact, the 13th annual Social Impact Summit provides unique opportunities for Queen’s students and our broader community to learn from today’s trailblazers who are scaling solutions to today’s toughest challenges.

The summit, being held on Queen’s campus on Friday, Nov. 10 and Saturday, Nov. 11, brings together leading academics and practitioners to foster discussion on a wide variety of issues and topics that will empower them to move forward and make a social impact. This year’s theme is ‘Fierce and Furious.’

“The Social Impact Summit, along with the Social Innovation Bootcamp that was held Oct. 13-14, are  opportunities for students to engage with leading professionals in the area of social finance, social entrepreneurship, social innovation,” says Joanna Reynolds, Associate Director, Centre for Social Impact. “The summit allows students to reflect upon their values and to understand from seasoned professionals how values apply to business and community life.”

As always, the summit offers an excellent lineup of speakers, including an opening keynote address on Friday by Zita Cobb, co-founder and CEO of the Shorefast Foundation and Innkeeper of the Fogo Island Inn.

A full day of learning and networking activities follows on Saturday, including morning keynote sessions featuring speakers Geoff Green, founder and President of Students on Ice Foundation, Chef Michael Smith and Chastity Smith, proprietors of The Inn at Bay Fortune, and Valérie Courtois, Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative. The afternoon has a full schedule of panel sessions and workshops.

The Social Impact Summit is open to the Queen’s and the Kingston communities, but registration is required.

Delegates expected to attend the Social Impact Summit include Queen’s students in the Commerce programs as well as the MBA and Master of International Business programs.  Many of whom are enrolled in the Certificate in Social Impact Program.

The Centre for Social Impact wishes to thank the OLG for their continued support of the Social Impact Summit. Visit the Centre for Social Impact’s website for the complete agenda.

The Centre for Social Impact at Smith School of Business was established in 2004 with a mission to educate students and foster education, research, and advocacy on issues impacting our local and global communities. Every year, the Centre presents and supports a wide range of programming for students, staff, faculty, and members of the Queen’s community to learn about the processes and practices that drive social impact – including the practice of values-based leadership and, social innovation, which refers to an innovative product, process or program that profoundly and positively changes a social system and is widely recognized a key driver of solutions to such complex issues. For more information please contact the Centre at csi@queensu.ca.

Queen’s alumni return to recruit at Fall Engineering & Technology Fair

  • Ryan Inayeh, a Queen’s graduate, attended the Fall Engineering and Technology Fair representing JSI Telecom, a market leader in investigative analysis solutions. JSI was at the fair seeking interns and graduates for roles in software and were eagerly meeting with students from a variety of disciplines.
    Ryan Inayeh, a Queen’s graduate, attended the Fall Engineering and Technology Fair representing JSI Telecom, a market leader in investigative analysis solutions. JSI was at the fair seeking interns and graduates for roles in software and were eagerly meeting with students from a variety of disciplines.
  • Paridhi Chauhan, right, and colleagues from the digital performance marketing agency DAC Group were at the fair looking for IT interns and staff from Queen’s programs such as computing, computer engineering, and mathematics and statistics. Ms. Chauhan and her Queen's grad colleague Catherine Johnson (BScH Psych 2014, MIR 2015) noted that the company's CEO is a Queen’s alumnus.
    Paridhi Chauhan, right, and colleagues from the digital performance marketing agency DAC Group were at the fair looking for IT interns and staff from Queen’s programs such as computing, computer engineering, and mathematics and statistics. Ms. Chauhan and her Queen's grad colleague Catherine Johnson (BScH Psych 2014, MIR 2015) noted that the company's CEO is a Queen’s alumnus.
  • Thinkmax, a consulting firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, and around the world, has hired from Queen’s in the past, including Zamir Habib, who they met at last year’s fair and helped represent the company this year.
    Thinkmax, a consulting firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, and around the world, has hired from Queen’s in the past, including Zamir Habib, who they met at last year’s fair and helped represent the company this year.

Hundreds of students from various faculties and programs interested in jobs in the engineering and technology sectors attended the Fall Engineering and Technology Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 17 and Wednesday, Oct. 18 in Grant Hall. 

With more than 70 booths spanning the two days, the semi-annual Engineering and Technology Fair featured a student prep area, drop-in career advising and a resume clinic sponsored by TRANE, an HVAC company and two-day exhibitor. Many organizations brought along recent hires who are Queen’s alumni.

The Winter 2018 Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Visit the Career Services website for more information and events.

Give your feedback on Undergraduate Orientation

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group announces its public consultation efforts.

If you would like to help shape the future of undergraduate orientation, there are many ways you can take part.

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group has announced its community consultation plan which will help inform the working group's report to Principal Daniel Woolf on the future of undergraduate orientation.

“The purpose of the working group is to review all aspects of our direct-entry undergraduate student orientation experience, and articulate a vision for orientation that achieves shared goals around community-building, inclusivity, accessibility, safety, and responsibility,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “We are committed to creating an environment where all incoming students to Queen’s experience a welcoming and inclusive orientation that reflects and embraces the diversity of our entire student population.”

Members of the Queen’s community, Queen’s alumni, and residents in the broader Kingston community who are interested in providing feedback on orientation can:

  • attend one of the working group's meetings;
  • invite the working group to one of your meetings;
  • request a one-on-one meeting with one member of the working group;
  • send a submission for the group to consider to orientation.review@queensu.ca

In addition, the group will be hosting two university-wide town hall sessions. The first will take place on Nov. 22 at 1 pm in Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 202. The second will be held Nov. 27 at 5:30 pm, also in Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 202.

The Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group was formed by Principal Woolf in August to recommend changes to undergraduate orientation, including both university orientation and student society orientation activities, which will make orientation more welcoming and inclusive for all members of the Queen’s community. As part of this effort, the working group is looking at ways that student associations, student groups, and the university can work together to develop a cooperative framework, including mechanisms for training and educating students on diversity and inclusion. The final report and its recommendations will be delivered to the principal by March 1, 2018.

For more information on the working group, visit the Office of the Provost website.

Essay earns global writing award

When Eden Gelgoot completed her final term paper for the course Conservation Principles: Cultural Heritage Preservation (ARTH 404), she knew that it was a solid work, involving many long hours of effort, from preliminary research to writing to editing. 

"Eden Gelgoot's final term paper selected as Global Winner in the Art History & Theory category of the Undergraduate Awards."
Eden Gelgoot' final term paper for the course Conservation Principles: Cultural Heritage Preservation (ARTH 404) has been selected as Global Winner in the Art History & Theory category of the Undergraduate Awards. (Submitted photo)

Happy with the final product she decided to submit it to the Undergraduate Awards, an international competition that recognize undergraduate research. This year there were nearly 6,500 submissions from 299 institutions in 47 countries.

Weeks passed and she thought little more of the competition.

Tricolour Globe
Queen's In the World

She went on to graduate from Queen’s with a BSc (Honours) with a major in life sciences and a minor in art history. She completed an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where she participated in clinical shadowing, did promotional work for the Academy of Clinical Excellence, and worked on a project that uses paintings to promote a humanistic approach to health care delivery. During the summer, she worked as a head counsellor at a residential summer camp in Algonquin Park. 

Then, in September, Ms. Gelgoot was notified that her essay, The role of the UNESCO World Heritage List in the commemoration of World War II, was judged the Global Winner in the Art History & Theory category. As a result she has been invited, all expenses paid, to present her work in Dublin, Ireland at the UA Global Summit in November. The essay also will be published in The Undergraduate Journal.

“I am excited to travel to Ireland to present my work and to meet people from schools all around the world. I really didn’t think anything would come from it so I was pretty shocked when I heard the news,” she says. “It has given me a boost of confidence in my own abilities in terms of writing and creating a work of original research.”

Ms. Gelgoot had taken a course in second year, Culture and Conflict, with Cathleen Hoeniger (Art History and Art Conservation) which eventually led her to enroll in Conservation Principles in her fourth year.

“The reason I took this second course with Dr. Hoeniger is that it offered the intersection between the arts and sciences that I was looking for,” she says. “The field of art conservation offers the potential to combine my interests in terms of the technical aspects of art conservation and of the art historical components as well.”

During the course, students look into aspects of cultural heritage preservation and conservation through discussions, readings and presentations, with a focus on the development of UNESCO and the World Heritage List. The course culminated in a research project that required students to examine two cultural heritage sites on the World Heritage List.

It was her initial interest in Auschwitz that led her to investigate the role of the World Heritage List in the commemoration of the Second World War.

“Coming from a Jewish background I was interested in Auschwitz,” she says, adding that UNESCO itself was developed as a response to the Second World War. “I was interested in not only looking at the Holocaust but also the Hiroshima bombing and how the World Heritage List helps to commemorate the injustices that happened and to further the memories of these events."

The work of other Queen’s students was highly commended, meaning their research was recognized as being in the top 10 per cent of their category:

  • Evelyna Ekoko-Kay (Literature)
  • Caela Fenton (Literature)
  • Sari Ohsada (Social Sciences: Anthropology & Cultural Studies)
  • Vinyas Harish (Social Sciences: Sociology & Social Policy)

Principal outlines priorities for 2017-18

The Principal has outlined his major priorities for Queen’s University in 2017-18. In this interview with the Queen’s Gazette, Daniel Woolf previews what’s to come this year.

 

How do your priorities advance the university’s mission and build the Queen's of the future that you have envisioned and spoken about?

We are collectively building the Queen’s of the future every day. It’s a place of great traditions, and many of those traditions still survive from my time as a student. Yet no institution survives by staying in the same place. We need to adapt and change. We have made huge progress in the last few years, and I think our trajectory is simply going to continue upward.

My first priority as Principal was to put our financial and governance house in order, develop a culture of planning, and introduce a new budget model – which has been done thanks to the hard work of the Deans and our former Provost. The last few years have been focused on putting in place the conditions for future success, including drafting documents such as the Strategic Framework and the Comprehensive International Plan, ensuring sustainable enrolment growth, improving town-gown relations, and working on our talent management.

My current goals are based on a three-year rolling plan, which includes short-term and long-term priorities. The 2017-18 underlying themes are primarily: catalyzing change, which relates to faculty renewal and research prominence; respecting our community, which includes diversity and inclusion as well as encouraging safe and respectful behavior; and an infrastructure strategy, which will look at the question of how we eliminate $300 million worth of deferred maintenance in the next ten to twelve years and, of course, how we will pay for it.

The faculty renewal effort underpins many of these priorities. It will support our commitment to equity and inclusion, enhance our teaching and learning by ensuring students receive mentorship from faculty with diverse backgrounds and experience, and will help us attract promising early- and mid-career faculty who demonstrate exceptional promise as researchers.

Achieving these goals will put us in a position to reach for much greater success in research and innovation. This should lead us, five to ten years down the road, to an enhanced reputation as one of the most distinctive universities in the country in terms of the quality of its teaching, the quality of its students and faculty, the quality of its research, and its ability to innovate.

 

Looking ahead to the fifth year of our planned faculty renewal efforts, what difference will we see in the Queen’s of 2021-2022?

You will see nearly a quarter of the entire faculty complement turn over between new hires, retirements, and other departures. We will have a number of younger faculty out of recent PhD programs with somewhat different approaches to pedagogy, community relations, and interdisciplinarity. You will also be seeing some mid-career and senior appointments in designated fields to firm up areas of established excellence and promising emerging subjects. Hiring these 200 new faculty is a strategic investment that will lead us into the future.

These new faculty will want to come here because we will be one of Canada’s leading research intensive and teaching universities. They will want to be here because we are a place that recognizes innovation. They will be drawn by the good quality of life, the vibrant culture, and the affordability of living in Kingston. And they will have the chance to teach outstanding students in an environment where there is a great care for health and wellbeing, and in a place where we have made some thoughtful and strategic choices in terms of our research excellence.

The two primary lenses we are using to guide our hiring decisions are research excellence – the few areas at Queen’s that have the capacity to be really world-leading – and diversity and equity, where we know that we have some work to do.

We cannot aspire to be a world leader in every single subject and every single discipline. We have the capacity to make some choices to pursue areas – particle physics is an obvious one, but not the only one – where we can rank in the top 100 or higher. Making such choices does not disadvantage or diminish other areas. A rising tide lifts all boats.

The Provost and I will be taking advice from the Deans and the incoming Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) in terms of what are the most promising areas. I say ‘areas’ rather than necessarily ‘departments’ or ‘disciplines’ since some will be multidisciplinary. We will also be appealing to our alumni, who recognize the importance of hiring and retaining the best and brightest, for support for endowed chairs and professorships to support our hiring plans.

 

Why are our research reputation and graduate student experience so important?

For Queen’s to be where we need to be five to ten years from now, we need to raise our game on research and graduate education.

We have an outstanding reputation as an undergraduate institution. We are one of the lead providers of a baccalaureate education, inside and outside the classroom. But it is important, if we are to be a truly balanced academy, that we are equally recognized for our research. It is not just an add-on – it is as big a part as the teaching and support for our faculty members.

Student engagement scores are solid on the undergraduate side. We have a little work to do on graduate engagement scores, and the Deans are looking closely at how we can improve those. It’s something we need to see some movement on in the next few years.

The graduate piece is really important because graduate students contribute enormously to the university. On the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) side of the house, they work on research projects that are very much connected with supervisor’s research programme. They are a big part of the engine that drives research. On the non-STEM side, where that model occurs sometimes but is less common, they contribute to the intellectual life of the humanities and social sciences departments. Even in my current job I still supervise one or two graduate students. They keep me on my toes intellectually. And graduate students also enhance our teaching as TAs and Teaching Fellows.

 

What do you hope to achieve by implementing the international strategy, and what impact will this have on Queen’s reputation?

Our international recognition has begun to improve through the great success our admissions and international teams have had in bringing people in. If you tell the world about us, they will actually come. Students who come here and return home build our reputation further.

Reputation is important. Apart from attracting fantastic students, it also has an impact on our ability to form international partnerships and secure international research funding. There is an awful lot of research money available in Europe and Asia, for example, which we could be accessing if we had more collaborative partnerships. We want to build on strategic partnerships with institutions we see as equal or better, opening up exchanges for students, creating opportunities for our faculty to have overseas sabbaticals and for faculty to come here on their sabbatical, and build more international research collaborations.

At the same time, there is also funding to be had in industry partnerships. That, in turn, helps the city and our country. All of this is part of a virtuous circle which will further enhance our reputation.

As I suggested above, interdisciplinarity is important. To solve the problems of the world, physicists have to work with chemists, biologists have to work with environmental engineers and, frankly, all of them need the advice of the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Looking ahead in the next few years, I would like to see us move in a bolder direction to organize interdisciplinary entities that bring together people from different departments and faculties.

 

What do employees need to know and be aware of as far as Queen’s financial competitiveness?

We have come a long way. We would not be hiring 200 faculty over the next five years if we had not got our financial house in order, and achieving this has very much been a collective effort.

On the staff side, Physical Plant Services has been managing our energy costs, saving us a good deal of money over the years. Advancement has been remarkably successful in getting donors to invest and I want to thank them for their hard work. Every dollar into the endowment produces 3.5 cents for particular things we need each year. When you have a large endowment, as we now do, that’s a significant chunk of money.

We have staff in research services and the faculties who work with faculty members and students generating scholarships and operating grants, and those who develop new programs which have brought in additional revenue to the university. Senate has been exceptionally busy in recent years overseeing the development of new programs and exercising its academic oversight of their quality.

And we have a very engaged board of trustees and committees with a lot of financial acuity and experience, and they have helped manage risk and given us a sound financial strategy.

There is still some work to do. We are getting close to resolving some of our long-standing pension issues, which remain a major financial threat. We have significant deferred maintenance challenges to address in the next few years, and it is not only our oldest buildings which need work. We are making progress, as you can see with the number of cranes, trucks, and workers around. Our Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) is developing a strategic asset management plan so we can identify which buildings are the most urgent for refresh or outright replacement. We have also benefitted from strong returns on our investments and a continued increase in student enrolment, though we must remain cautious and continue to address some of our financial risks.

 

What are the growth areas for Queen’s reputation, and how do we get there?

Interim Vice-Principal (Research) John Fisher is leading our strategic research plan renewal process, and Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer is leading the academic plan renewal. Both of these processes should be resolved later this year, pending approval by Senate, and those, in turn, will inform our next iteration of the strategic framework in 2019.

We need to develop a more pan-university approach to some of the things we do. As I suggested above, it’s essential that we bring social sciences, humanities, and arts into some of our more well-known areas of strength. Among other things, they are going to be enormously important in our future digital strategy.

There remain some health and wellness challenges, especially around alcohol consumption, where student leaders have been working with us, and with community members, to encourage safe drinking. University Council has a number of Special Purpose committees looking into matters of importance such as alcohol consumption on and off campus. And we need to remain vigilant on the issue of sexual violence, which is often related to abuse of alcohol.

Finally, we must consider what we can do to become a leader in policy innovation once again. I am expecting, in the next month or so, a report on the future of public policy at Queen’s. I think it will give us some very interesting guidance on directions we might take, and the larger issue of Queen’s in the Canadian and larger international public policy sphere. This obviously involves the School of Policy Studies but I think it can involve so many more of our faculty and students around the university.

Turnitin available through onQ

Turnitin, a text-matching tool that can be used to encourage and maintain academic integrity, is now fully integrated with the onQ learning management system and is available for any course at Queen’s University.

TurnitinDuring the 2017 Winter Term, the university conducted a test run of the tool in approximately 10 undergraduate, graduate, and online courses. This pilot provided a useful test of the supporting technology and information on how to integrate the tool into academic courses, says pilot participant Richard Ascough, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Arts and Science.

“Turnitin is a powerful tool for student engagement with the skills of scholarly writing,” he says. “I used it to help my students refine and nuance how they integrated secondary sources as conversation partners into their research essay writing.”

Turnitin is currently used by numerous post-secondary institutions across North America, with more than 25 million users – instructors and students – globally. While it is primarily seen as a tool to help detect plagiarism in course assignments, Turnitin can also be used to support the development of scholarly writing skills. Once a paper is submitted to Turnitin, the program provides a report on how closely it compares to previously written material through an analysis of word patterns. The writer can then address the issues before making a final submission.

Turnitin is now available for any instructor who wishes to use it, but Dr. Ascough says that it is important for instructors to start planning early before introducing the tool to a course.

“Like any new pedagogical tool, integrating Turnitin into my course took some up-front time investment, both in learning the technology and in thinking carefully through designing for its use pedagogically,” he says. “It did, however, pay off in terms of student learning. I would definitely build on my initial forays by integrating further in subsequent course offerings.”

Support for instructors is being provided by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For detailed instructions on integrating Turnitin into a course, visit the Turnitin page on the CTL website. Instructors looking for assistance with the integration can contact the IT Support Centre at 613-533-6666. Support sessions for setting up Turnitin in onQ and making best use of the tool are available every Thursday from 2-3 pm in the CTL. For more information or to book a session, contact Selina Idlas, onQ Educational Technology Analyst.  

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