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Student Learning Experience

Connecting through Experiential Learning Hub

[Chelsea Elliott]
Chelsea Elliott, Manager, Experiential Learning and Partner Relations, leads and manages the Experiential Learning Hub, a new initiative dedicated to developing learning that goes beyond the classroom. (University Relations) 

At the nexus between theory and practice, experiential learning might seem like the newest buzzword. In fact, it’s already exercised to great success all around us, through curriculum-based learning in internships and placements, as well as by co-curriculum-based strategies such as community service learning programs.

“While university education provides the opportunity for profound learning and personal transformation, great experiential learning deepens this and enables students to clearly articulate their transformation,” says Chelsea Elliott, Manager, Experiential Learning and Partner Relations. “It empowers them to own their learning and have the skill to speak to their development when pursuing future endeavours, whether it be grad school, a job, or other opportunities.”

Through Career Services in the Division of Student Affairs, Ms. Elliott leads and manages the Experiential Learning Hub (EL Hub), a new initiative dedicated to developing learning that goes beyond the classroom. In 2015, the Provost's Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning (PACTL) established an Experiential Learning Working Group (ELWG) to lead discussions and develop a strategy around Experiential Learning; the creation of an EL Hub is one of the recommendations to come out of their report. The EL Hub website helps faculty members design curricula in accordance with experiential learning principles and techniques, providing tools and consultation services. Further, there are resources for employers and partners to recruit Queen’s students.

The purpose of the EL hub is to facilitate and advise.

“We are available for consultation as faculty, administrators and partners look to add or grow experiential learning activities,” says Ms. Elliott. “If a faculty member or partner is interested in creating and/or expanding an experiential learning opportunity, such as a practicum or internship, then the EL Hub can connect them with experts who are already working with partners and facilitate that coordination. We want to ensure that students get the most of their experience, and that community and employer partners also receive an outstanding Queen’s experience.”

When Abbie Rolf Von Den Baumen, a chemical engineering student, was finishing her final year at Queen’s, she expressed to Ms. Elliott the great benefits gained from her experiential learning experiences in a year-long internship through the Queen’s University Internship Program (QUIP). Ms. Rolf Von Den Baumen worked at Devon Energy in Calgary as a Development Engineering Intern, discovering the wide applicability of her academic skills and grasping ways to articulate the advantages of her education to future employers.

“I didn’t fully realize all the skills I learned in class until I was out at my internship and got a chance to apply them and then reflect on them. I wowed my boss,” says Ms. Rolf Von Den Baumen. “When I came back to school, I felt even more connected to the things I learned in class. It made me want to get even more involved.”

Ms. Elliott has worked for 18 years at Queen’s and derives great personal satisfaction and professional success in linking students with employers for hands-on experience.

“One of my passions is developing teams and students, being a part of that transformative learning, and connecting them with partners,” she says. “With a project management and strategic development background, I like to find ways to make communication and process happen more efficiently and effectively, so when I heard about an opportunity to manage the development of an EL Hub in Student Affairs and work with partners, I was energized.”

She is now leading the charge to support connecting learners with direct experience and reflect on the skills gained during their experience to relate that deeper knowledge and perspective back to their classroom work. And, she’s no stranger to seeing the positive effects of experiential learning in action.

“I instruct an experiential learning course in design, analytical problem solving, team building, and professional communication in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science,” she says. “Students complete projects for industrial, community and campus partners, which provide rich learning opportunities. From shaping this course I have learned how to prepare and support students, how to work with employer partners, and how to design the course to facilitate student learning and success. I have also developed an appreciation for the complexity in administration behind the scenes. There is a rich landscape of existing knowledge at Queen’s: the EL Hub is here to connect you to that network.”

Ms. Elliott will be speaking about experiential learning and the EL Hub at the Showcase of Teaching and Learning at Queen’s on May 3, MacDonald Hall, Room 001. More information and registration details are available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

Career Services will also host an event on June 27 to celebrate the launch of the Experiential Learning Hub. RSVP to el.hub@queensu.ca or on the website.

'Impressive' showing for Career Services

[Career Services staff]
The Queen's Career Services team at an event held earlier this spring. The staff, student staff, and volunteers help deliver a comprehensive range of career development programs and services for Queen's students. (Submitted photo)

Queen’s University boasts one of the most “impressive” models of career services among Canadian universities and colleges, according to a recent national study.

Commissioned by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, the study looked at institutions’ commitment to support the career development of their students. To earn an “impressive” designation, universities and colleges had to show that they:

  • Proactively deliver services
  • Collaborate extensively with campus stakeholders
  • Regularly evaluate services and measure outcomes

“This recognition illustrates the importance Queen’s places on comprehensive career development programs and services for our students,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We have an amazing team in Career Services that works collaboratively with student groups, faculty, alumni, and employers to help students explore and plan their career and further education goals as a critical part of their student experience.”

Sixty-seven universities and colleges responded to the online survey, with 24 respondents scoring above average on the criteria. Of that 24, seven exemplified the impressive model, with Queen’s receiving the second-highest ranking overall.

[Students at a job fair hosted by Career Services]
Career Services works with numerous stakeholders to deliver workshops and services, including job and career fairs. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)

“The study highlights Queen’s significant investments in student career development,” says Cathy Keates, Director, Career Services. “In addition to offering direct services to students in our office, we work with instructors, units, and faculties across the university to deliver workshops, innovative services, and expand experiential learning opportunities for students. With our partners, we want to provide students with the tools they need to articulate how their Queen’s education and experience prepares them for their future endeavours.”

A key focus for the university is the continued development of experiential and work-integrated learning, with the goal of helping students recognize the important skills they develop through a variety of curricular and co-curricular experiential learning opportunities, and how these skills prepare them for life after graduation. Queen’s initiatives align with the Ontario government’s Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy.

Mapping the career path together

Queen’s Career Services has received high marks for several of its collaborative projects. In 2014, Career Services and the Alma Mater Society co-founded It All Adds Up, a career health campaign aimed at giving students confidence that the skills they are developing at university will give them a solid foundation for their future careers. It All Adds Up has expanded to 43 other university and college career centres across Canada.

Career Services has also worked with partners across campus to develop Major Maps and Grad Maps, program-specific resources that offer undergraduate and graduate students advice on academics, research, and career opportunities all in one document.

The maps received the 2015  Excellence in Innovation Award (Student Engagement) from the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE). The maps project is also a finalist for the 2017 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Award for Career Services Excellence. NACE, which has more than 3,000 member institutions across the United States and Canada, will announce the award recipient in June.

The university has also launched the online Experiential Learning Hub, a “front door” to experiential learning that supports efficient cross-institutional planning and delivery of experiential learning, and provides advising for program development, collaboration, and sharing of resources through a central contact.

Visit the Queen’s Career Services website for more information about all of its programs and services. 

Partnership boosts undergraduate research

A partnership between the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) and the Faculty of Arts and Science is providing the financial support to promote and expand undergraduate research.

The partnership has resulted in the creation of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Research Fund (ASURF) with the aim of fostering a community of undergraduate scholars and promoting greater investment towards undergraduate research.

The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society and Faculty of Arts and Science are partnering to provide financial support to promote and expand undergraduate research. (SUpplied Photo)

Each year for the next three years ASUS will contribute approximately $30,000 toward the fund through an opt-out student fee of $3.75, while the faculty will contribute $10,000 annually.

Undergraduate research is important because it provides an opportunity to expand the depth and breadth of the student experience, explains ASUS President Darrean Baga, adding that the fund will help improve the process for students and strengthen another pillar of the undergraduate experience.

“Undergraduate research allows students to apply the theories and concepts they have learned in the classroom in the real world, where the processes and results can be messy, unexpected, and complicated. As such, undergraduate research provides students with tangible skills outside of the classroom while at the same time part of the experiential learning process,” he says. “Moreover, undergraduate research is a great gateway for students to think about graduate school and how to further their education.”

Queen’s offers opportunities for undergraduate research through such programs as the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF) and the new fund will help build upon the increasing interest.

“The momentum that is building for undergraduate research is amazing,” Vicki Remenda, Associate Dean (Academic). “We are happy to have collaborated with ASUS to begin to highlight the research that is going on at the undergraduate level here at Queen’s.”

The Faculty of Arts and Science and ASUS have also partnered to launch the Undergraduate Research Hub, a website featuring the work of undergraduate researchers, where it can be viewed by peers, potential supervisors, and graduate school admissions committees.

“The undergraduate research website is a very valuable tool for professors in the Faculty of Arts and Science to aid in graduate student recruitment,” says Sharon Regan, Acting Associate Dean (Graduate Students and Research). “The new features highlighting undergraduate researchers will only make this a more powerful and useful outlet for our faculty and students.”

Anyone interested in having their research, or that of their student, included in the Undergraduate Research Hub can contact ASUS.

Creating diverse, modern learning spaces

Renovations to develop diverse and modern learning spaces will soon begin in Mackintosh-Corry Hall.

The revitalization of the southern wing of the building – home to the Department of Geography and Planning – marks the second year of Queen’s multi-year commitment to improving teaching and learning environments on campus. The university is investing $1 million per year for three years to upgrade centrally-booked classrooms and other learning spaces.

[Mackintosh-Corry Hall - south wing]
The south wing of Mackintosh-Corry Hall will undergo renovations, including the development of two active learning classrooms and a renewed student street. (University Communications)

A focus of the Mackintosh-Corry Hall project is to provide a more diverse range of learning opportunities by creating two new active learning classrooms, renewing other classrooms, as well as enlarging the hallways and creating informal learning spaces, says Peter Wolf, Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning).

“We’re basically renovating part of the wing with a recognition that there really aren’t many informal learning spaces in this building, which is a major classroom complex where these types of spaces really are needed,” he says. “We also need more flexible and active learning classrooms and we are doing this by consolidating classrooms that were less used and configured in traditional ways and reworking them to provide more active learning.”

The two new 49-seat active learning classrooms will be constructed in Rooms D201 and D205. A temporary partition between the rooms can be removed to create a 98-seat classroom as well, Mr. Wolf explains. Other classrooms will undergo more minor renovations while the hallways will be widened and informal study areas will be created.

The focus of the multi-year commitment, Mr. Wolf says, is on renewing large classrooms and increasing the proportion of active learning and flexible classrooms.

“The commitment has really given us a tremendous start for what we need to do for our classrooms, to make sure that the classrooms enable the diversity of pedagogies that are being used and are in demand across all disciplines,” he says “We will continue to need lecture spaces and we also need other kinds of spaces. The goal of this project is to renew the classroom database while at the same time making sure that the classroom spaces and technologies provide the diverse contexts that our students need to learn the diverse things they are learning.”

Another important aspect of the overall project is to make learning spaces across campus more accessible.

“A key part of a good learning environment is a fully accessible learning environment,” Mr. Wolf points out. “That includes the technology, layout, stairs and ramps and lighting and good air.”

In the initiative’s first year, major renovations were conducted at Duncan McArthur Hall, including the main auditorium where new lighting, seating and presentation technologies were introduced.

Other classroom projects have taken place in Walter Light Hall, Theological Hall, Kingston Hall and Ellis Hall, where the first three active learning classrooms were introduced in 2014.

More information about active learning classrooms at Queen’s is available online

Faculty of Arts and Science introduces two new plans

[Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization]
The Faculty of Arts and Science is introducing two new plans for the 2017-18 academic year: a Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization and a major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Following an already busy year filled with launching new initiatives, an additional two new plans are being introduced by the Faculty of Arts and Science for the 2017-18 academic year, just in time for plan selection for first-year students. The two new plans are a Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization and a major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Politics- Philosophy-Economics Specialization
By combining the studies of economics, philosophy and politics, students will be prepared for graduate studies in their area of specialization, law, public service, international development, policy design and analysis, or any career path that calls for strong analytical and communication skills. The plan will approach contemporary social issues and how society responds to these issues by bringing complementary intellectual skills together in analytical and critical ways. The plan is structured as an augmented medial, without sacrificing advanced skills areas of specialization. With more than 50 courses to choose from, students will have flexibility to create a degree path that works for them, with a focus that will stand out in the marketplace.

“The three departments involved are very excited about the students who will be attracted to the new PPE plan,” says Ian Keay, Undergraduate Chair, Department of Economics. “The plan’s focus on analytical rigor, critical thinking and communication, applied to a wide range of social issues, will draw intellectually curious students with a broad set of complementary interests and skills.”

To learn more visit the PPE webpage.

Major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures
A new major for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLCU), the plan builds upon the breadth of the unit which covers Arabic, Chinese, German, Hebrew, Inuktitut, Italian,

Japanese, Mohawk, Portuguese and Spanish languages and cultures, as well as Linguistics and general/minor plans in Indigenous Studies and World Language Studies. The main aim of the new major is to develop students’ intercultural competency, providing them with an understanding and awareness of cultural diversity grounded in second language acquisition. Its strong interdisciplinary and intercultural approach, together with an international perspective and collaboration with the Queen’s University International Centre (students will concurrently earn an Intercultural Competence Certificate) means that it addresses the issues of today’s world in a unique way. The plan’s goal is to provide students with a set of diverse and flexible core competencies, supporting a solid and practical foundation for a remarkably wide range of post-undergraduate careers, graduate degree options, and professional programs.

“In addition to learning at least two languages, students will take courses from a variety of multi-, cross-, and inter-disciplinary topics,” says Donato Santeramo, Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.  “These will help students develop an understanding of literary and cultural traditions, and examine the influences of key social, historical, political and artistic developments within varied cultural traditions. The plan is designed to be an excellent platform for study abroad opportunities and for students to gain additional experiential learning.”

To learn more visit the LLCU webpage.

Indspire Award winner embraces personal journey

University often offers young people more than just a degree. For Thomas Dymond, currently a first-year medical student at Queen’s, post-secondary education has been a journey of self-discovery.

“It wasn’t until I got to Memorial University for my undergraduate degree that I started getting to know about my culture. I jumped over that barrier of not being sure how I fit being an Aboriginal person in modern society,” says Mr. Dymond, who recently accepted an Indspire Award, the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its achievers.

[Thomas Dymond]
Indspire recently recognized first-year medical student Thomas Dymond for his significant volunteer work and his advocacy for Indigenous students. 

Mr. Dymond is Mi’kmaq from the Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia. He lived off reserve growing up and didn’t learn a lot about his Aboriginal culture from his mother and relatives.

“Even though my grandfather didn’t attend a residential school, the system definitely impacted the way he felt he should share knowledge with his children and grandchildren,” Mr. Dymond says. “Given his own background and the racism he experienced, my grandfather never really forced our family to self-identify.”

Despite having minimal affiliation with the culture, Mr. Dymond says he always felt an Aboriginal presence inside of him growing up. When he moved to Newfoundland to attend Memorial University, he started to get more in touch with his Aboriginal identity.

However, as someone with mixed ancestry – his father is white – Mr. Dymond felt he faced another barrier to expressing his Aboriginal identity.

“I wanted to get involved, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received. I worried about walking in and being the whitest looking person in the room. I thought about how I was going to be received by other Indigenous students in the room,” he says. “Once I overcame all of that, it just sparked something in me. I wanted to learn more, I wanted to do more, and I wanted to get involved more.”

[Thomas Dymond accepts the Indspire Award]
Thomas Dymond accepted his Indspire Award on March 24 from Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Carolyn Bennett, Canada's Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. (Photo courtesy of Indspire)

Mr. Dymond was elected the Aboriginal student representative on the Student’s Union at Memorial University, a position he held for three years. He advocated for Indigenous students on campus, and also got involved in national campaigns such as Sisters in Spirit, which raises awareness about violence against Aboriginal women and girls, and Education is a Right, which seeks to increase financial support for Indigenous post-secondary students.

Mr. Dymond also got involved with a number of initiatives across the university and in the local community. He co-founded the Wape’k Mui’n drum group and facilitated events such as sharing circles. He sat on the board of the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre for two years as the youth representative. As a member of the board, he voiced the needs and desires of Aboriginal youth in the community, which helped shape planning and policy within the friendship centre.

“I have gone from a level of trying to be educated and to learn more about my culture to this point where people turn to me for knowledge.”
-- Thomas Dymond 

Reflecting on his volunteer and community work, Mr. Dymond can’t pinpoint one activity that he is most proud of.

“I do things because I have a passion and I am driven to do them. Everything along that path has led me to where I am today. All of those experiences have made me who I am,” he says. “I find it interesting that I have gone from a level of trying to be educated and to learn more about my culture to this point where people turn to me for knowledge.”

New beginnings, new challenges

After years of contributing to the university and broader community in St. John’s, Mr. Dymond found himself navigating a new and unfamiliar environment last fall after arriving at Queen’s to pursue his medical degree. When he came to campus for his School of Medicine admission interview, he visited Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and walked through the building on Barrie Street. Mr. Dymond said he received a warm welcome from the staff at FDASC, which made him feel comfortable going there.

Mr. Dymond admits that there was an adjustment period coming to Queen’s. It took him a while to get comfortable with the other medical students and the Aboriginal community on campus. Furthermore, the demands of medical school meant that he couldn’t attend as many events or get as involved as he had been at Memorial University.

Expanding access to Queen’s for Indigenous youth
The Faculty of Health Sciences has joined with the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to expand the pool of qualified Indigenous applicants. Learn more about Ann Deer, Indigenous Access and Recruitment Coordinator, on the Queen’s Law website.
Improving access to Queen’s programs for Indigenous youth is one of the recommendations contained in the final report of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force. Read the full report and learn more about task force and its membership.

Over the past few months, though, Mr. Dymond feels he has come out of his shell, opening up about who he is and where he comes from.

“The more comfortable I’ve gotten with the people I am surrounded by now, the new community, the more I’ve been open and able to share my knowledge, understanding, and perspective on a lot of things,” he says. “And that’s really what it’s all about: I have a perspective as one person, and it’s nice that I am being heard.”

Having the opportunity to share that perspective with Aboriginal youth is what excites him the most about the Indspire Award. As part of the honour, Mr. Dymond will visit several different cities across Canada and deliver his message to other Indigenous youth: “stay in school and you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

“If you had asked me five years ago, I never thought I would have been here. It’s amazing where I have come from and how I got here, and I am excited to share that with other Indigenous youth and let them know they can do what they want in life.”

Visit the Indspire website to learn more about Mr. Dymond and the awards. 

Turning dreams into reality

Three winners have been announced for the Principal’s Dream Courses.

[Principal's Dream Courses]
Laura Murray (English Language and Literature) speaks about her experiences with ENGL 467: Words in Place: Settler and Indigenous Stories of Kingston/Cataraqui, one of the Principal's Dream Courses for 2016-17. (University Communications)

In its second year, the initiative offers Queen’s faculty members the resources to create and teach the courses they’ve always dreamt of. 

Each course will be taught for at least two years with up to $13,000 in funding for teaching materials, field trips and guest speakers. The winners will also receive course development assistance from the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

“The first three Principal’s Dream Courses showed the value of this initiative and I am very much looking forward to what can be accomplished by this current selection of winning proposals,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “I am confident each of these courses will provide their students with an exceptional and memorable learning experience.”

Applicants were encouraged to focus their proposed courses on the topics of sustainability, Indigenous identities or Queen’s 175th anniversary using active and inquiry-based learning methods.

The winning courses are:

GPHY 3XX: Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment and Health
Heather Castleden (
Geography and Planning, Public Health Sciences)
This course will explore issues concerning Indigenous peoples’ interconnected relationships with the environment and health. In addition to those relationships, the course will explore relationships between Indigenous and Settler peoples as existing within broad socio-political contexts. Central to the development of an understanding of Indigenous knowledge of environment and health, Indigenous voices must be at the forefront of this learning process. The course is largely a traveling Field School (80 per cent) with some portion being spent in class (20 per cent). The course will review key Canadian legal cases affecting land use, resource access, management, planning, and environmental protection; and explore Indigenous worldviews on health and the interplay human health has with environmental stability. A key focus will be the interconnectedness of environment and health – how the health of the land, water, and air is intimately tied to Indigenous health and well-being.

ENGL 218/003 Introduction to Indigenous Literature in Canada
Heather Macfarlane (
English Language and Literature)
This course will demonstrate the capacity of literature to confront expectations about Indigenous cultures and experience. Using an inquiry-based approach, the course will examine Indigenous novels, traditional stories, poetry, short stories and plays from various time periods, written by Métis, Inuit and First Nations authors. Class visits by renowned Indigenous authors and thinkers will open avenues for meaningful engagement, and demonstrate the importance of literature and aesthetics to educate and mobilize. With a goal of developing a broader understanding of the powerful anti-colonial sentiment at the core of Indigenous cultural production, the course will also consider the texts in the light of Indigenous-authored criticism. Participants will examine textual and theoretical approaches to topics such as colonialism and resistance, storytelling and orality, traditional and contemporary stories, land and language, residential schools and “reconciliation,” sexuality and gender, spirituality, community and nationhood. The course will also consider the role that Indigenous literatures play in shaping both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perceptions of identity.

ASO ASTR 101 Astronomy I: The Solar System
David Hanes (
Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) and Keren Akiva (Instructional Designer, Arts and Science Online)
This course is a non‐mathematical introduction to the science of astronomy for non‐specialist students. Topics to be covered include the fundamentals of astronomy; the historical development of our understanding of the earth, moon, and solar system, with particular attention to the interpretations associated with various Indigenous cultures; an introduction to the tools and techniques of modern observational astronomy; the nature of the sun; the origin of our solar system; the sustainability and fragility of life on earth; space exploration of Mars, Jupiter, and other planets; the discovery and nature of planets around other stars; and the search for extraterrestrial life. This course is currently offered through Arts and Science Online in the summer term as a 12-week course and funding will allow the removal of an enrolment cap presently set at 95 students. The intention is to deepen the theme of sustainability in ASTR101 and to expand it to include themes of disparate historical interpretations as evidenced in varied cultures, paying particular (but not sole) attention to those of the North American First Nations. This includes creation stories as central and essential parts of the discussion.

Each of the winning courses will first be available in the 2017/18 academic year.

The Principal’s Dream Courses will be offered again in 2018 with increased funding of up to $15,000 per course being awarded.

Learn more about the Principal’s Dream Courses on the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s website.

Thinking about course textbooks

Looking ahead to the next academic year, many instructors are exploring textbook options to find the ones best suited to their course content, tailored to their teaching, and affordable for their students. A new Queen’s working group is exploring how to help.

When and Where
The sessions will be held Monday, April 24 at 3 pm and Tuesday April 25 at 9:30 am and 11:30 am, at the University Club. Each session will last about an hour. To register, please contact Nadia Timperio, indicating your preferred date and time.

The Queen’s Open and Affordable Course Materials Working Group wants to hear from faculty and students as it begins a phase of exploration, including the formulation of pilot projects this spring. The purpose of the group’s work is to support equitable, broad access to learning resources.

Upcoming instructor-oriented discussion groups on April 24 and April 25 are open to faculty across all disciplines, and will provide an opportunity to share experiences, views and ideas, and to help shape forthcoming pilot projects at Queen’s. These discussions will help the working group learn about instructors’ experiences with – and interest in – different types of course materials, particularly open education resources (teaching, learning and research resources that are free of cost to students and which also grant legal permissions for open and fair use). The group welcomes insights on opportunities and challenges associated with these materials – for instructors, students and the creators of various types of teaching materials?

Input gathered at these discussion groups will help inform the design of pilot projects that can test possible approaches, and shape platforms and services that support the use of course materials across the curriculum. As the group develops the pilot project parameters, members are eager to hear about any potential projects instructors have in mind.

Projects across the country are undertaking similar explorations. The BCcampus Open Textbook Project led the way in Canada in the development of open education resources, and eCampus Ontario is now building on that work with the launch of a new virtual Open Textbook Library. Queen’s has an opportunity to collaborate with other institutions in Ontario to provide advice on the design and development of a prototype for an open publishing infrastructure to support this Open Textbook Library.

The Showcase of Teaching and Learning at Queen’s, hosted by the Centre for Teaching and Learning on May 3, will also provide an opportunity to think about these matters: Rosarie Coughlan (Scholarly Publishing Librarian, Queen’s University Library) and Mark Swartz (Copyright Manager at Queen’s) will present on “Building and Integrating Open Educational Resources to Support Your Teaching.”  

The Open and Affordable Course Materials Working Group is chaired by Martha Whitehead, Vice-Provost (Digital Planning) and University Librarian, and reports to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning.

University addresses construction noise during exams

The university is working proactively to address construction-related noise to minimize the impact on students who are studying and writing final exams this month.

[Innovation and Wellness Centre architect rendering]
Architect's rendering of the Innovation and Wellness Centre, as seen from Union Street and Division Street. When finished, the building will bring collaborative and experiential learning spaces, state-of-the-art laboratories, and mental health and wellness services together in one convenient location at the heart of campus.

Representatives from Physical Plant Services (PPS), Students Affairs, Residences, and the Office of the University Registrar have met with EllisDon, the construction company overseeing the work underway for the new Innovation and Wellness Centre on Union Street. The contractor is implementing several mitigation actions leading up to and during the exam period to help reduce any impact on exam-writing in surrounding buildings.  

“Construction projects will always result in some noise, which we recognize could be disruptive to students studying or writing exams,” says John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities). “Our goal is to develop solutions that mitigate the disruption, while supporting Queen’s commitment to staying on schedule with this important project, which will bring together experiential learning spaces and health and wellness services in the heart of campus.

“We are working in collaboration with the contractors and university departments and appreciate everyone’s understanding and willingness to help us meet our goals,” Mr. Witjes adds.

Study Spaces Guide
Looking for a place to study besides Stauffer or your room? Check out this list compiled by Queen’s Residences

Beginning this week and continuing through the exam period, contractors will continue breaking and excavating rock – currently the loudest activities on the construction site – starting at 9 am instead of 7 am in recognition of the fact that students are living in the JDUC Residences next door. The contractors are also altering the demolition process to reduce noise throughout the day.

Project-related questions can be sent to Matt Hayes at EllisDon at 343-363-6253. Exam-related questions can be sent to the Exams Office exams@queensu.ca or by calling 613-533-2101. Residence-related questions can be sent to res.news@queensu.ca. Updates are also being sent directly to the students living beside the site. The campus updates section of the Queen’s Gazette website and the Gazette’s Twitter account will also include project updates, as needed. 

Healthy, happy, connected for exam time

[Exam Health]
Students at Queen's are encouraged to eat well, get enough sleep, stay active and remain connected for their own well-being and to be in top form for exams. (University Communications)

The end of term period for many people at Queen’s – faculty, staff, and especially students – is a stressful time. 

Papers are due and final exams, both need to be marked, and after that it’s time to move or take that next life step beyond university.

It can be a lot to handle.

Self-Care video

Video goes viral
A new video posted on the Queen’s University Be Well page on Facebook is providing members of the Queen’s community with a better understanding of self-care during exams.
The video was created by nursing students Hannah Fogel and Jason Basaur for the Practicum in Community Health Promotion (NURS 405) course and focuses on “how do you self-care.” The course provides students with the opportunity to work with a community agency to develop a health promotion initiative after identifying a need.
“Encouraging students to identify activities that help them to feel balanced was the focus of this project,” says Lauren Armstrong, Peer Health Outreach Coordinator, who supervised the students. “The video also helps remind everyone to prioritize their self-care during this busy time of year.”
The video was created with the support of Studio Q and Peer Health Educators.
In just four days the video has been viewed more than 9,000 times along with more than 50 shares and has received more than 100 comments.

Stress management is key and fortunately there are many resources available at Queen’s to help you help yourself or provide extra support when needed. The first step can be identifying the causes of stress. 

“For most students, during this time of year, their goal is to manage their stress levels so that they can keep themselves on track to achieve their academic goals,” says Kate Humphrys, Health Promotion Coordinator at Student Wellness Services. “So one strategy is to identify what is causing the greatest concern and then to seek out the appropriate solution for that particular issue.”

That could mean meeting with a Peer Learning Assistant or attending a workshop at Student Academic Success Services (SASS). It may be as simple as using the Exam Study Schedule from Learning Strategies to help get everything organized or accessing some of the many online resources.

As Ms. Humphrys points out, just as with most things in life, it is important find some sort of balance. But the pressures at this time of year can make that more difficult.

It all starts with taking care of yourself.

“From a health perspective when we look at self-care and stress management during exams we always come back to our key message: be proactive in your efforts to take care of yourself, and remember that effective self-care is individualized – what works for one person doesn’t always work for another,” she explains. “Prioritizing the time to take care of yourself can really help manage stress and can potentially lead to better academic results.” 

This means eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks, both the short breaks – 10 minutes for every hour of study – as well longer breaks to connect with family or go out for a coffee with friends to take your mind off the exam buzz. It also means taking time for physical activity. 

Mental health, physical health and social health form a solid foundation to help manage stress during exam time, Ms. Humphrys says.

“Managing your stress will be easier if you are eating well, sleeping well, getting some activity, and staying connected with others – it’s all connected,” she says “It can seem overwhelming, but often times picking one thing that feels manageable is a good start. Then it’s possible to slow add in other changes, and over time it does get easier.”

For some people, however, self-care may not be enough and Ms. Humphrys encourages students who are feeling very overwhelmed to seek out support through resources such as Counselling Services at Student Wellness Services, the Office of the University Chaplain, the AMS Peer Support Centre, the SGPS Peer Advisor Program, and Student Academic Success Services.  Students can also access support from Career Services, as well at the Queen’s University International Centre and Four Directions Aboriginal Students Centre.

“There are so many people here on campus who support students and every student has access these services,” Ms. Humphrys says. “Sometimes we hear from students that they are unsure. We always encourage students to remember that these services are here for them. They wouldn’t be here if students didn’t use them.”

New this year is #QueensProjectHappy, a positive mental health campaign inspired by Queen’s alumnus Neil Pasricha and the ideas he brings forward in his 2016 book The Happiness Equation.

Throughout the exam period, Health Promotion will be offering tips for social media followers to increase happiness. They will also be distributing Gratitude Journals where students can write down five things they are grateful for over the past week as a reminder that even when times are stressful there is a lot to be happy about.

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There is a wide range of support resources available at Queen’s.

If you are a student and want to improve your learning and studying strategies or academic stress coping skills, you can book a Learning Strategies advising appointment by visiting queensu.mywconline.com.

Students who wish to make an appointment with Counselling Services can do so by calling 613-533-6000, ext. 78264. Counsellors are located in various faculty and university buildings across campus: Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science (613-533-3447), Faculty of Education (613-533-2334), School of Graduate Studies (613-533-2136), School of Business (via Commerce Portal), Residence Counsellors (613-533-6000, ext. 78330 or 78034), the School of Medicine (613-533-6000, ext. 78264), and the Outreach Counsellor/Student Advisor in the JDUC (613-533-6000, ext. 78441).

Another resource available for students is Good 2 Talk, a 24/7/365 post-secondary student helpline which offers free, professional and anonymous support. They can be reached at 1-866-925-5454 to talk about any stressful issues students might be experiencing.


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