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University admissions tests under scrutiny especially in the age of COVID-19

Students writing an exam.
Many people are beginning to question the appropriateness of testing for equitable admissions decisions, particularly now in the COVID-19 era. (Shutterstock)

Many Grade 12 high school students are now looking ahead to post-secondary studies next fall. Those wishing to attend universities in the United States will see that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growing shift to test-optional university admissions policies — or scrapping entrance tests altogether.

Due to COVID-19, many U.S. universities, including Yale, Cornell, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania have announced they won’t require applicants for fall 2021 to write either the SAT or ACT.

But even before the pandemic, entrance examinations were under scrutiny. The University of California voted in May to phase out both the SAT and the ACT as requirements for university admissions, largely due to concerns over racial and cultural bias. Other universities have made similar pronouncements.

Many people are wondering if the COVID-19 pandemic will spell the end of university admission testing altogether, and what the implications are for Canadian universities and the approximately 25,000 Canadian students that attend post-secondary institutions in the United States each year.

History of admissions testing

In England, some universities first adopted examinations as the basis for admission in the 1800s. It was not long until university admission testing spread to other parts of the world. A large number of countries now use some form of testing for admission to undergraduate education.

In the United Kingdom, A-level exams across subjects are administered by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations. In New Zealand, the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) uses internal and external assessments to determine students’ achievement of standards, and subsequent admission to post-secondary education and employment.

In Canada, several provinces including Alberta and British Columbia have used senior level subject exams as indicators for university entrance, and often in conjunction with teacher grades. In Australia, universities may ask some applicants to write the STAT, a scholastic aptitude test. However, many people are beginning to question the appropriateness of testing for equitable admissions decisions, particularly now in the COVID-19 era.

A common metric?

Advocates of admissions testing say there is a need to compare students using a common metric. Their chief rationale for using a common benchmark to make admittance decisions is wanting reliable and valid assessments, rather than depending on the idiosyncratic nature of classroom teachers’ assessment practices.

Supporters of admissions testing argue that these external examinations provide an objective metric that may help disadvantaged pupils.

Well before the pandemic, some argued that admissions testing at some of Canada’s universities would help ensure students have the necessary abilities for post-secondary success in their targeted programs.

Digital companies are beginning to take a vested interested in testing — particularly in light of COVID-19, which has forced several assessments into remote proctored environments. Some companies have advanced new technologies that enable responsive test questions, secure online test distribution and administration. Some are currently integrating virtual and alternative digital realities to create more authentic testing environments.

What opponents say

Opponents of admissions testing argue that using external exams for high-stakes decisions creates pressure to raise test scores and degrades rather than improves instruction and learning in schools.

Although this criticism is most often made in relation to high-stakes secondary school testing, the pressure to teach to the test also applies when governments track students’ admissions testing performance from year to year.

Last year’s college admissions scandal in the U.S. highlighted how high-stakes admissions exams can lead to improper and even illegal actions that impact the legitimacy of testing.

Critics have also suggested tests have racial, gender and economic biases as different groups may interact with specific test items in different ways, putting them at an unfair disadvantage. Allegations of bias have sparked legal action against some testing organizations.

As with any high-stakes tests, admissions testing can provoke anxiety, worry and concern in students, leading to significant well-being and wellness challenges. Admission tests reflect broad skills, competencies and aptitudes for higher education, yet are not directly aligned to standards where student applicants may be studying. Hence students may have different levels of preparation for such tests.

Similarly, coaching and preparatory courses can help boost performance for people who can afford such services.

Collectively, these points underscore critical equity concerns related to admission testing and suggest an unequal playing field.

Levelling the field

Testing organizations have increasingly focused their efforts on methods to account for social and economic background characteristics (known as an adversity score) to address bias.

The SAT adversity score includes 15 variables in three different areas: family environment, neighbourhood environment and secondary school environment. Characterized as a poor fix, the adversity score has been criticized for not accounting for unique student circumstances.

Moving tests into online platforms has enabled more responsive question formats, additional accommodations for students with disabilities and, most recently, remote invigilation practices.

In the absence of external admissions exams, universities are turning towards alternative metrics. Some universities look at test results students have written throughout their formal schooling. There have been calls for professional development to ensure teacher grades lead to reliable and valid information about students’ achievement, and many American colleges and universities are exploring ways to develop their own admissions tests.

Perhaps the ultimate arbitrator of the use of admission tests is whether students’ test performances actually predict student success. Unfortunately, the research about this is somewhat mixed and suggests students’ first-year university grades may be both over- and under-predicted by test scores.

Regardless of whether or not universities rely on entrance exams, admissions decisions are supplemented by students’ activities, such as completion of specific programs like the International Baccalaureate. At least one Canadian university has adjusted student grades depending on the high school students attended.

The fact that some students will access more “enriched” secondary opportunities will do little to address concerns of cultural bias and the fact that COVID-19 may have further exacerbated school-based inequities.

With more and more institutions phasing out admission testing, there will be an increasing need to rely on teachers’ judgements to make university admissions decisions.

Accordingly, it will become even more important that teachers have sound assessment skills to provide valid judgements of their students’ achievement of learning. With the increasing shift to online learning environments, teachers will need expanded competencies in assessing students. Teachers’ assessment literacy is key and must be a critical focus of what teachers need to learn in their university education and in professional development.

_____________________________________________________________The Conversation

Christopher DeLuca, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies & Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Queen's UniversityLouis Volante, Professor of Education, Brock University; and Don A. Klinger, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Te Kura Toi Tangata Division of Education; Professor of Measurement, Assessment and Evaluation, University of Waikato

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Promoting Research@Queen’s

Looking back on some of the most compelling stories of the Discover Research@Queen’s promotional campaign.

In February, the university launched an institutional campaign, Discover Research@Queen’s, to showcase the impactful research happening at Queen’s and to build engagement with the new Research@Queen’s website.

  • [Photo of compacted plastics]
    Diving into microplastics: Addressing our "wicked" waste problem: Microplastics – They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we consume, and we are still learning about what this means for our health, the health of our environment, and our future. How do we tackle this “wicked” problem? Queen’s researcher Myra Hird believes the answer is in our own consumption habits.
  • [Photo of a woman touching her forehead]
    Strange physical symptoms? Blame the chronic stress of life during the COVID-19 pandemic: Itchy skin? More aches and pains? Unusual rash? Headaches? Pimples? If you've been experiencing unusual physical symptoms recently, Queen's researcher Kate Harkness explains it may be due to living with chronic stress for The Conversation Canada.
  • [Photo of Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zhu by Bernard Clark]
    Championing AI for social justice: Queen's University researchers Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zhu are using AI to level the legal playing field for Canadians, including those affected by COVID-19 unemployment.
  • [Art of Research Photo by Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin of a market in Adelabu]
    Capturing the Art of Research: Celebrating the 2020 prize recipients: The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest celebrates its fifth year, with the selection of ten stunning winning images.
  • [Illustration of a bar graph and tree by Gary Neill]
    Fixing financial fairy tales – The rise of sustainable finance in Canada: The Institute for Sustainable Finance based at Queen's Smith School of Business is dedicated to exploring how the many different ways in which we spend money might be adapted to reflect the principles of sustainability.

However, much like the rest of the world, the campaign had to take stock and respond to the urgent concerns of the pandemic. As a consequence, the campaign was paused between March and May. During this period many Queen’s researchers pivoted their efforts to focus on pandemic relief and research, sharing their expertise and advice with the public as the crisis unfolded. In April, the campaign was reimagined to reflect these activities culminating in a new virtual events series with Advancement, Conversations Confronting COVID-19, where Queen’s researchers and alumni were able to discuss their research, provide comment, and take questions. These Conversations have reached more than 1,000 people and featured topics such as innovation and aging during the pandemic.

“The original goal of the campaign was to help our audiences discover the critical and impactful research happening at Queen’s,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “While COVID-19 forced us to rethink our approach to a degree, the success of these efforts illustrate how eager our audiences are to understand how the work being done by Queen’s researchers can make a difference.”

Overall, the campaign has doubled traffic to the Research@Queen’s website and helped drive significant awareness of the research happening at Queen’s. As we wrap up the campaign, the last phase features some of the most well-received stories featured over the last 10 months.

Discover Research@Queen’s Stories and Features

Diving into microplastics: Addressing our "wicked" waste problem: Microplastics – They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we consume, and we are still learning about what this means for our health, the health of our environment, and our future. How do we tackle this “wicked” problem? Queen’s researcher Myra Hird believes the answer is in our own consumption habits.

Strange physical symptoms? Blame the chronic stress of life during the COVID-19 pandemic: Itchy skin? More aches and pains? Unusual rash? Headaches? Pimples? If you've been experiencing unusual physical symptoms recently, Queen's researcher Kate Harkness explains it may be due to living with chronic stress for The Conversation Canada.

Championing AI for social justice: Queen's University researchers Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zhu are using AI to level the legal playing field for Canadians, including those affected by COVID-19 unemployment.

Capturing the Art of Research: Celebrating the 2020 prize recipients: The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest celebrates its fifth year, with the selection of 10 stunning winning images.

Fixing financial fairy tales – The rise of sustainable finance in Canada: The Institute for Sustainable Finance, based at Queen's Smith School of Business, is dedicated to exploring how the many different ways in which we spend money might be adapted to reflect the principles of sustainability.

For more information, visit the Research@Queen’s website or contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives.

Indian day school survivors are seeking truth and justice

In January 2020, Canada began accepting claims emerging from a billion-dollar settlement with survivors of the Indian day schools. This landmark settlement has been embroiled by legal battles as well as additional lawsuits. In the meantime, survivors and the public have yet to learn how the $200 million, earmarked for education, healing and commemoration, will be used.

An estimated 200,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend Indian day schools that operated on First Nations reserves in every Canadian province from the mid-1800s until 2000. While the government of Canada funded the schools, the daily operations were run by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches and, later, the United Church of Canada.

We have collaborated on a new historical biography, Spirit of the Grassroots People: Seeking Justice for Indigenous Survivors of Canada’s Colonial Education System. The perspectives we bring are as an Indian day school survivor and activist (Raymond), author of this book, a mixed settler-Anishinaabe historian (Jackson) and a white settler scholar of education (Theodore), the book’s editors.

As historians of education, we believe that Canada must continue to come to grips with the full extent of its past. Schools and curricula are a part of this past, as well as the present and the future. They also laid the historical foundation of inequality for Indigenous students.

Attendance in Indian Day Schools vs Residential Schools in Ontario, 1871-1961. (Library and Archives Canada, Indian Affairs Annual Reports, 1864-1990)

Forced attendance, abuse

Since the official submission date for claims opened in January 2020, survivors have been navigating the confusing and lengthy written application of documenting their trauma and abuse.

While the settlement covers the costs for survivors to file a claim with the designated legal counsel, only recently have survivors been able to hire their own lawyers, who they themselves must pay. In June of this year, survivors also learned that they cannot change the level of claim they previously submitted.

Survivors who submit an application are entitled to a minimum of $10,000 for “harms associated with attendance” at one of the 699 recognized schools.

A man smiling.
Survivor Garry McLean attended the day school at Dog Creek First Nation. When McLean passed away in February 2019, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs noted that McLean recollected getting the strap because he didn’t know how to say ‘good morning’ in English. (Raymond Mason), Author provided

This does not include the approximately 700 Indian day schools that the federal government excluded from the settlement. Former students who were physically or sexually abused could receive between $50,000 to $200,000 based on “severity of the abuses suffered.”

This federal settlement was reached after extensive advocacy work by survivors.

Survivor Garry McLean, with Raymond, approached lawyers in 2016 after spending the previous seven years building a network of survivors and submitting a claim within the Manitoba court system. After extensive negotiations with the federal government, there was an announcement of an agreement in principle on Parliament Hill in December 2018. After additional negotiations, the final settlement worth $1.47 billion was announced in August 2019.

Survivors’ work has opened up processes of legal acknowledgement of wrongdoing and thus made possible a form of justice and compensation. As of Sept. 30, 2020, the settlement had received 84,427 claims and paid 27,690 survivors with another 56,737 applications still under review.

National inquiry into day schools

It has been over five years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) presented their findings in a report and in Calls to Action. Since that time, ongoing injustices towards Indigenous people have led some to debate whether reconciliation is already dead. Yet the truth that was uncovered through oral testimony and historical research as part of the TRC has provided valuable knowledge to those who are listening.

Numerous departments in universities, colleges and public schools have begun incorporating the history of Indian residential schools into their curricula.

This process of seeking the truth is unfortunately not happening for Indian day schools survivors, despite an estimated 2,000 individuals who are passing away every year. It is time for a national inquiry into the history of Indian day schools and their ongoing legacy for the education of Indigenous students in Canada.

Helen Raptis, who has studied the history of Indian day schools in British Columbia, has argued that our understanding of Indigenous education “has been hampered by historians’ almost singular focus on residential schooling.” This is despite the fact that more students attended an Indian day school than a residential school in Canada.

Abuse, forced to abandon language

When the federal government, plaintiffs and lawyers announced the day schools agreement in principle in December 2018, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, acknowledged:

“As a result of the harmful and discriminatory government policies at the time, students who attended these schools were subject to sexual, physical and psychological abuse and forced to abandon their language and culture. Survivors across this country continue to suffer from the abuse and horrific experiences they were subjected to, which were perpetuated by the very people charged with educating them as children.”

Since this announcement, neither the government nor any of the religious organizations involved, have launched a national inquiry or issued a formal apology. If the federal government and church organizations are unwilling to support an investigation into the full extent of survivors’ accounts of abuse, then historians and the general public must make it a priority to learn this history.

Book cover for Spirit of the Grassroots People
“Spirit of the Grassroots People: Seeking Justice for Indigenous Survivors of Canada’s Colonial Education System” (McGill-Queen's University Press)

Indian day school survivors and their descendants have already begun sharing their schooling experiences. Through organizing and sharing information about their claims and experiences on a growing Facebook group and articles by journalists such as Ka’nhehsí:io Deer, their stories are slowly becoming heard. The nearly 20,000-strong Facebook group offers mentors, guidance and a supportive community for survivors. This virtual place has become a primary source of information for claimants.

Mapping Indian day schools

From the perspective of survivors, such private forums are critical. However, they cannot replace the need for publicly accessible records, including digital records, for future generations of survivors’ descendants, historians and the general public.

In research at Queen’s University, we are now working towards a map-making project that will provide an online resource that visualizes the location of all Indian day schools and describes what archival files are available.

In addition to this, we invite Indian day school survivors to participate in a study that seeks to learn about their experiences through questions such as: What did you experience in Ontario’s Indian day school? How did these experiences impact you later in life? What would you like to be remembered about the Indian day schools?

These questions are only small steps towards a wider goal of providing an option for Indian day school survivors to tell their history without the interference of the government, lawyers or a claims administrator. The oral history from survivors will play an essential role in the memory of these events as evidenced from the testimonies of survivors of residential schools.

Click here for more articles in our ongoing series about the TRC Calls to Action.

Urgent response required

There is an urgent need to document history related to the day schools, and also to commit to holding Canada accountable for systemic injustices that continue to harm Indigenous lives and communities today.

Sen. Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC, has criticized the way the federal government has handled records related to residential schools’ survivors’ accounts. In June, he noted:

The disappearance [of records] is actually tragic because it means the information around the full and complete story of the residential school experiences … is not going to be told.”

This is despite the TRC’s call for a national review of archival policies. An ongoing battle over the records of residential school survivors stories and missing files is still an issue more than a decade later.

We believe that all Canadians must join with survivors in demanding transparent processes in the Indian day school settlement. This would involve funds being available to the legacy fund for the support of healing and education.

Seeking truth in history should begin with study of our educational systems. These embed our values and beliefs. The Indian day schools are a part of Canada’s history and directly affect every Canadian, not only those who survived them.The Conversation

____________________________________________________________________________

Jackson Pind, PhD Candidate, Indigenous education, Queen's University; Raymond Mason, Community research partner, Peguis First Nation, and Theodore Christou, Professor, Social Studies and History Education, Queen's University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Start writing for The Conversation Canada

Scott White, Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, to host two online, interactive workshops for faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows on Sept. 17 and 21.

The importance of fact-based, expert commentary in the news has never been more apparent. The public is seeking informed information on issues important to them, particularly as the world gets accustomed to the new normal of living in a global pandemic.  

For researchers looking for an opportunity to reach the public and mobilize their knowledge, The Conversation is an ideal platform. It combines academic rigour with journalistic flair by pairing academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be repurposed by media outlets worldwide.

Global Reach

Founded in Australia in 2011, the online news platform has 11 national or regional editions with more than 112,000 academics from 2,065 institutions as registered authors whose articles attract 42 million readers monthly worldwide. The Conversation’s Creative Commons Licensing has meant that over 22,000 news outlets around the world have shared and repurposed content.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, over the last three years the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. More than 160 Queen’s researchers have published 270 articles that have received an impressive audience of over 4.3 million via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, dozens of major media outlets, including Maclean’sThe National PostTIME, and The Washington Post, to name a few, have republished these pieces.

For Queen’s researchers interested in learning more about the platform, University Relations and the School of Graduate Studies will host two interactive, online workshops in September. The workshops will explore the changing media landscape in Canada, why researchers should write for The Conversation, and how to develop the perfect pitch. 

Online Workshops

Faculty are invited to attend the workshop on Thursday, Sept. 17 from 10-11:30 am. Interested graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are asked to register for a specially designed workshop on Monday, Sept. 21 from 10-11:30 am that will also count towards the SGS Expanding Horizons Certificate in Professional Development. Scott White, Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, and members of his editorial team will host both workshops over Zoom. Participants are asked to bring an idea to pitch to the workshop to receive real-time editorial feedback from the team.

In order to facilitate a collaborative workshop, spaces will be limited. Please visit the Research@Queen’s website to register.

It’s time to join The Conversation

Queen’s is looking to add to its roster of authors taking part in The Conversation Canada. Faculty and graduate students interested in learning more about the platform and research promotion are encouraged to register for the September workshops or contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, for more information.

Safely moving into residence

New procedures for student move-in will support campus and community safety.

Photograph of Leonard Hall
Move-in for the reduced number of students living on campus will take place from Sept.1 to Sept. 5 at staggered times throughout the day.

The Labour Day weekend is usually an incredibly busy one at Queen’s, with first-year students all moving into residence for the start of the fall term. It’s also an important milestone for the students who move in, as unpacking their boxes in their residence room marks the beginning of their Queen’s experience.  

Due to COVID-19, moving in will look different this year for the reduced number of students living on campus. A new move-in process is being implemented to prioritize the health and safety of students, their families and supporters, staff, and the Kingston community.

This year, move in will take place over five days from Sept. 1 to Sept. 5 at staggered times throughout the day.

“Keeping students, families, supports, Queen’s staff, and the community safe during move-in is our top priority. Our new procedures will make it possible for everyone to maintain a safe physical distance throughout the process,” says Leah Wales, Executive Director, Housing and Ancillary Services.

For the fall, Queen’s has reduced the number of students who can live in residence to approximately half of the usual total. And only 10 of the 17 buildings will be in use.

During the move-in week, no more than 450 students will move into residence on one day, and students can bring a maximum of two people with them for assistance. When they arrive on campus, students will head to Richardson Stadium, where there is a contactless check-in station. Students will remain in their cars while they pick up the key to their room.  Queen’s staff will be present during the move-in days to provide information and directions, however the typical large numbers of volunteers will not be involved in move-in this year, in order to maintain physical distancing.

Additional measures have been put in place inside the residences to promote safety during all move-in days. There is a planned movement flow throughout the buildings to maximize physical distancing, everyone must wear a face covering, and the university has placed COVID-19 informational signs and hand sanitizers throughout all buildings. There will be frequent cleanings of surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons throughout each day.

Traffic and parking

Compared to previous years, move-in days will have limited impact on traffic and parking in the campus area. There will be no closures of public streets around residence buildings.

Bader Lane will be restricted to one-way traffic, west-bound only, and no parking will be permitted on the street. These changes will be in effect from Tuesday Sept. 1 at 8 am through Saturday Sept. 5 at 9 pm. In addition, parking restrictions will be in place for the five-day period, on the following streets:

  • Lower Albert, from Queen’s Crescent to King St.
  • Queen’s Crescent
  • Collingwood St., from King to Queen’s Crescent
  • Stuart St., from University to Albert

Representatives from the City of Kingston have approved the university’s traffic management plan.

Safe return to campus

While they live in residence, students will be protected by a variety of safety measures. No guests will be permitted into any residence building. All students will be living in single rooms and sharing a bathroom with only a small number of other students. To limit the number of people students are in contact with, floors are being organized by academic program.

Queen’s is taking a variety of actions to ensure the safety of the campus and Kingston communities beyond residences as well. New and returning students are being asked to take important safety measures, including testing and limiting contact with others. The university has also launched a communications and advertising campaign that directs students to important information that will help them keep themselves and the campus and Kingston communities safe.

Learn more about plans for residence move-in days and residence safety on the Queen’s Residences website.

For more information about the university’s plans for the fall semester, see the Queen’s COVID-19 website.

Supporting research at Queen’s University

The Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s provides internal funding to help researchers accelerate their programs and engage in knowledge mobilization.

Queen’s University has awarded more than $1 million in funding to its researchers. Through unique competitions such as Wicked Ideas, Queen's Research Opportunities Fund, and national programs like the SSHRC Institutional Grant (SIG), the Vice-Principal (Research) is supporting researchers at all stages of their careers and across all disciplines – from discovering innovative solutions, to artistic production, and knowledge mobilization.

In its inaugural year, the Wicked Ideas initiative was designed to support research collaborations across disciplines tackling wicked problems, issues so multi-dimensional and complex that they require multiple perspectives to solve them. Some of the successful projects include exploring cleantech, Lyme disease, and microplastics.

Additionally, through the internal funding initiatives several grants were also awarded to Queen’s researchers who have pivoted their research to help confront COVID-19. These projects ranged from determinants of self-rated health, to understanding resilience and fragility, and the spatial implications of the Bank of Canada’s response to COVID-19.

“It is extraordinarily exciting to see the research ideas that are brewing here on campus, matched with the commitment we have to making things happen," says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). "I truly look forward to the outcomes of these awards.”

Learn more about the 2020 recipients and the individual internal funds below. For more information on the research happening at Queen’s, as well as Queen’s researchers’ efforts to confront COVID-19, visit the Research@Queen’s website.


Wicked Ideas

The Wicked Ideas Competition is a Vice-Principal (Research) pilot initiative to fund and support research collaboration and excellence. Wicked Problems are issues so complex and dependent on so many factors that it is hard to grasp what exactly the problem is, or how to tackle it. Wicked Ideas are needed to solve these problems and demand the input of multiple disciplines with relevant practical expertise.

2020 Recipients

Investigator Project Title
David Lyon (Sociology) &
Dan Cohen (Geography and Planning)
Big Data Exposed: What Smartphone Metadata Reveals about Users
John Allingham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) &
Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry)
Design and Development of Novel Classes of Actin-Targeting Toxin-Glycan-Antibody Conjugates
Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine) &
Stéfanie von Hlatky (Political Studies)
Peace Support Operations (PSO) in Countries Affected by Political Instability, Armed Conflict, and Insecurity
Joe Bramante (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) &
James Fraser (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
Macro Coherent Quantum Transitions in Parahydrogen
Kevin Stamplecoskie (Chemistry) &
Cathy Crudden (Chemistry)
Immortal Solar Cells
Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering) &
Fady Abdelaal (Civil Engineering)
Using Cleantech to Monitor Geosynthetic Liners in Frozen Grounds for Sustainable Development of Sub-Arctic and Arctic Mineral Resources
Graeme Howe (Chemistry) &
Philip Jessop (Chemistry)
Solving the Water-Removal Bottleneck in Sustainable Chemistry
Nora Fayed (Rehabilitation Therapy) &
Claire Davies (Mechanical and Materials Engineering)
SOCIALITE: An Emotional Augmentation System for Children with Profound Communication Disability
Laurence Yang (Chemical Engineering) &
Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering)
Reducing the Greenhouse Gas Burden of Livestock by Harnessing Carbon-Neutral Algae to Produce Milk
Robert Colautti (Biology) &
Nader Ghasemlou (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences)
The E.D.G.E. of Lyme
Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) & 
Suraj Persaud (Mechanical and Materials Engineering)
Materials Performance in Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) Environments Proposed for Advanced Nuclear Systems
Heather Castleden (Geography and Planning) &
Diane Orihel (Biology)
The Spirit of the Lakes and All Their Relations: Two-Eyed Seeing in Microplastics Research

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant

Through its SSHRC Institutional Grant (SIG) funding opportunity, SSHRC provides annual block grants to help eligible Canadian postsecondary institutions fund, through their own merit review processes, small-scale research and research-related activities by their faculty in the social sciences and humanities.

Explore Grant

This grant supports social sciences and humanities researchers at any career stage with funds to allow for small-scale research project development or pilot work, or to allow for participation of students in research projects.

2020 Recipients

Investigator Project Title
Cynthia Levine-Rasky (Sociology) The Good Fight: Voices of Elder Activists
Theodore Christou (Education) Map Making and Indigenous History Education: Supporting Reconciliatory Education by Visualizing Canada’s Indian Day Schools
Heather McGregor (Education) History Education in the Anthropocene
Grégoire Webber (Law) Recovering the Good in the Law
Jennifer Hosek (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) Cultures of Resilience and Fragility under COVID: Does Money Matter?
Leandre Fabrigar (Psychology) Exploring Objective and Subjective Measures of Attitude Bases
Dan Cohen (Geography and Planning) The Spatial Implications of Bank of Canada’s COVID-19 Response
Richard Ascough (Religion) Associations and Christ Groups under Roman Colonization: Assimilation and Resistance in the Western Provinces
Gabriel Menotti Miglio Pinto Gonring (Film and Media) Audiovisual-made Museums: An Archaeology of Video as an Exhibition Platform
Danielle Blouin (Emergency Medicine) Accreditation of Medical Education Programs: What are the Effective Components?
Heather Macfarlane (English Language and Literature) How to be at Home in Canada: Literary Land Claims in Indigenous and Diaspora Texts
Sergio Sismondo (Philosophy) Epistemic Corruption
Collin Grey (Law) Humanitarianism and Deportation
Martha Munezhi (Policy Studies) Determinants of Self-rated Health in the Midst of COVID-19
Ian Robinson (Film and Media) Film and Placemaking
Ruqu Wang (Economics) Modeling International Trade Disputes
Marcus Taylor (Global Development Studies) Sustainability Transformations in Eastern Ontario Agriculture
Alison Murray (Art History and Art Conservation) Teaching Science to Art Conservation Students: Threshold Concepts as a Revitalizing Tool
Amanda Ross-White (Library) Predatory, Deceptive or Imitation: What Motivates Publishers and Editors on the Margins of Scholarly Literature?

Exchange Grant

This grant supports the organization of small-scale knowledge mobilization activities in order to encourage collaboration and dissemination of research results both within and beyond the academic community, as well as allow researchers to attend or present research at scholarly conferences and other venues to advance their careers and promote the exchange of ideas.

2020 Recipients

Investigator Project Title
Elizabeth Brule (Gender Studies) Indigenous Resurgence, Decolonization and the Politics of Solidarity Work
Elizabeth Anne Kelley (Psychology) Utilitarianism: A New Strengths-Based Approach to ASD

Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds

QROF represent a strategic investment in areas of institutional research strength that provide researchers and scholars opportunities to accelerate their programs and research goals.

Catalyst Fund

This fund was created to enhance areas of research excellence that are of strategic importance to the university by giving scholars an opportunity to accelerate their research programs. Ten awards were allocated with a minimum of six awards designated for Early Career Researchers, defined as those who are within 10 years of their first academic appointment. Applicants were required to hold Tri-Council funding or have applied for Tri-Council funding within the last two years.

2020 Recipients

Investigator Project Title
SSHRC  
Grégoire Webber (Law) Human Goods and Human Laws
Meredith Chivers (Psychology)

Racializing and Diversifying Sexual Response: The Effects of Racial Identification, Emotional Appraisal, and Racial Bias on the Physiological and Psychological Sexual Responses of Black and White Women Viewing Racially Diverse Erotic Stimuli

Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin (Geography and Planning) Started from the Bottom: Youth Social Mobility and Affective Labour in Ibadan, Nigeria
NSERC  
Vicki Friesen (Biology) Using Whole Genome Sequencing to help Protect the Potential of Wildlife to Adapt to Changing Arctic Ecosystems, Focusing on Species Important to Indigenous Subsistence and Culture  
Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry) Targeting Cancer Glycans with Imaging Probes - New Frontiers to Chemically Map Tissue Surfaces
Jennifer Day (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering)

Investigation of Sea Stack Stability in Popular Geotourism Destinations, Prediction of Their Structural Collapse, Evaluation of the Effects of Sea Stack Collapse on Public Safety, and Forecasting Risk Associated with Climate Change Evolution

CIHR  
Nader Ghasemlou (Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, Biomedical & Molecular sciences) Circadian Control of Pain and Neuroinflammation
Eun-Young Lee (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies) Knowledge into Action: Development of Carbon Footprint Equivalences that Incorporate Lifestyle Behaviours for Dual Benefits of Environmental Sustainability and Human Health
Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine) Improving Emergency Department Care Experiences for Equity-Seeking Groups in Kingston: A Mixed Methods Research Study
David Maslove (Critical Care Medicine & Medicine)

Deep Learning Applied to High-Frequency Physiologic Waveforms for the Detection of Atrial Fibrillation in Critical Illness

Arts Funds

This fund makes an institutional commitments in support of artistic production and expression that strategically align with the university’s scholarly strengths and priorities. This includes supporting artists, their contribution to the scholarly community and to advancing Queen’s University. The Arts Fund is also intended to attract outstanding artists to Queen’s University each year.

Artistic Production

This fund assists in the actual production of a work of art, such as the creation of a piece of visual art; the writing of a novel, poem, play or screen play; the composition of music; the production of a motion picture; the performance of a play, a musical composition, a piece of performance art, or the production of a master recording.

2020 Recipients

Investigator Project Title
Gabriel Menotti Miglio Pinto Gonring (Film and Media) Hollow Constructions
Matthew Rogalsky (Film and Media) Highly Directional Loudspeakers: Research and Development for Distanced Sound Performance and Installation

Visiting Artist in Residence

To enrich the cultural life of the university and to encourage exchange between artists at Queen’s University and the broader community. It is intended to provide educational and scholarly opportunities for artists by facilitating the extended presence on campus of visiting artists. Residencies are normally two to eight weeks in duration.

2020 Recipients

Investigator Project Title
Carolyn Smart (English Language and Literature) Writer-in-Residence for Queen's University: Kaie Kellough
Juliana Bevilacqua (Art History and Art Conservation) Rosana Paulino: Project North-South Dialogues
Karen Dubinsky (Global Development Studies) Cuban Roots in Canadian Soil: Canada's Cuban Musical History
 

Congratulating new graduates

Over 5,500 diplomas are being mailed to new Queen’s graduates.

Photo of diploma and congratulatory letters
Diplomas are being mailed with congratulatory messages and alumni pins, among other items. (Supplied photo.)

Queen’s students work hard to earn their degrees, and their achievements are typically celebrated with pomp and circumstance at convocation. While COVID-19 delayed this spring’s in-person ceremonies, the university is sending 5,554 special diploma packages to new graduates by mail this month.

In-person convocation ceremonies will be scheduled for the Class of 2020 when larger gatherings are permitted.

“Graduating from Queen’s is a great accomplishment, and it is disappointing that we were not able to celebrate with our new graduates in person this year. When they receive their diplomas in the mail, I hope they will reflect on all their hard work and feel proud of what they’ve achieved,” says Stuart Pinchin, University Registrar (Interim).

To help mark the occasion, Queen’s is sending three congratulatory letters along with the diplomas. One comes from the dean of the student’s faculty or school; another is from Alumni Services; and the third comes from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada.

The university will also be mailing the objects typically presented to students during convocation ceremonies or shortly before. Indigenous students will be receiving a Blackfoot Peoples Mountain Blanket, graduates of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science will be receiving iron rings, and all graduates will receive an alumni pin.

During the period convocation ceremonies would have occurred, Queen’s developed a website about degree conferral and graduation activities to help congratulate graduates. This website features video messages from the principal, the chancellor, and the rector, who typically all address graduates during convocation ceremonies. And it also features a recorded message from members of the Indigenous community at Queen’s.

To view these messages and to learn more about how each faculty and school recognized graduation this year, see the spring 2020-degree conferral and graduation activities website.

Queen’s education professor wins prestigious NSERC Science Promotion Prize

Lynda Colgan adds national research outreach award to a list of recognition for career achievements.

Lynda Colgan
Lynda Colgane (Education) has been awarded the 2020 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Science Promotion Award for individual achievement.

A distinguished mentor, researcher, and educator at Queen’s University has just been awarded the 2020 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Science Promotion Award for individual achievement. The award honours people and groups that are inspirational in the way they promote science to the general public. They are an opportunity for Canada's science community to recognize, support and encourage outstanding science promoters. 

The common denominator in Lynda Colgan’s research and passion has been to dispel the myth that math and science are hard, dead subjects that only certain people can do successfully. Dr. Colgan uses intuitive approaches and strategies to help educators see mathematics through the eyes of children.  

“The math and science experience have changed drastically over the years. Today, so many things are paid for with a debit or credit card, and cashiers are told by registers what change to give back to customers, resulting in them not counting the change for customers. Part of it is that there are many things happening around them that makes children actually believe that they don’t ever have to use math.” says Dr. Colgan, professor of elementary mathematics and coordinator of the  Education Community Outreach Centre, Faculty of Education.  

To respond to this need, her approach has evolved and expanded to include outreach, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, resulting in projects and products that search for creative avenues to engage both students, parents, and educators. 

“What I try to do is encourage everyone – family members included – to become math mentors and role models who ‘do’ math naturally and for real purposes every day, everywhere. I do this by creating and disseminating simple ‘unplugged’ STEM crafts, games and experiments to encourage, facilitate, reinforce and/or review important skills and STEM concepts on the go’ – in the car, the backyard, the park, the grocery store,” says Dr. Colgan.  

One of these initiatives is the highly successful Science Rendezvous Kingston, which is a celebration of STEM subjects and discoveries, scientists, and researchers featuring demonstrations, experiments and exhibits to bring people of all ages – toddlers to retirees – from across south-eastern Ontario into the world of science. Participation in Science Rendezvous Kingston has grown each year, as its reputation swells, from 650 to over 5,000 attendees in 2019, making it the most-attended Science Rendezvous event in Canada.  

“What we’re hoping is that we inspire a little curiosity,” says Dr. Colgan. “That we inspire that little niggle, that helps the kids to say, ‘I want to know more about that, I want to read about that, I want to do that,’ and, basically, that will grow.” Dr. Colgan, along with the other Science Rendezvous coordinator, Kim Garrett, won the STEAM BIG Award from NSERC in 2019, for outstanding contribution to a Science Rendezvous event. 

Prior to her appointment at Queen’s in 1998, Dr. Colgan was an award-winning educator with the Scarborough Board of Education for 25 years. During that time, she taught or held leadership and administrative positions at every educational level – elementary (K-6), intermediate (7-8), secondary (9-13), and post-secondary in roles centred around the integration of computer technology and mathematics. Throughout her tenure, Dr. Colgan has developed pivotal resources for the mathematics curriculum across Canada, including textbooks, research monographs and teacher and parent resource guides. 

Dr. Colgan was also awarded funding for a three-year NSERC PromoScience grant for a project called Learning with Dinosaurs: A gateway to multidisciplinary STEM learning. That project, in collaboration with Peter May and Research Casting International, seeks to revitalize educational resources about dinosaurs by disseminating museum-quality artifacts and interactive guided curriculum to provide hands-on STEM activities to improve Canadian teachers’ knowledge and student interest in the multidisciplinary field of paleontology, which includes biology, zoology, geology, chemistry and physics. 

She is also the recipient of an NSERC Promo Science Supplement Grant for Science Literacy Week. It will go to support a virtual author in residence program and is set to take place this September. 

Supporting Rapid Response research

The Vice-Principal (Research) announces the second round of internal funding for projects supporting medical and social coronavirus-related solutions.

A second round of funding for COVID-19-related research has been allocated as part of the Rapid Response competition, announced by the Vice-Principal (Research) in late-March. Thirteen projects that contribute to the development, testing, and implementation of medical or social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 have already been funded through the program. Now, seven more applicants have received funding in a second round of the competition.

The diverse projects cross several fields and disciplines. They range from learning how Indigenous peoples living with chronic health issues are impacted by COVID-19 to studying the psychosocial implications of the pandemic among cancer survivors.  

The successful projects are:

  • Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry) – Developing sweet prophylactics: targeting glycans to prevent COVID-19 spread
  • Amrita Roy (Family Medicine) – Indigenous peoples living with chronic health issues during the COVID-19 era – examining experiences in Katarokwi (Kingston, Ontario area)
  • Jacqueline Galica (Nursing) – The psychosocial implications of COVID-19: How are cancer survivors coping?
  • Kristy Timmons (Education) – Using social and behavioural science to help teachers and principals mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 in K-12 contexts
  • Elaine Power (Kinesiology & Health Studies) – Leave no one behind: Income security for the 21st century
  • Elijah Bisung (Kinesiology & Health Studies) – Mobilizing local stakeholders to address COVID-19 misinformation and mistrust in Ghana
  • Stephen Vanner (Medicine) – COVID-19 testing of health professional students: Informing testing and public policy for universities and society

For more information on the Rapid Response competition, visit the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research)  website.  

Showcasing the Art of Research – photo essay

The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest celebrates its fifth year, with the selection of ten winning images.

It was another record-breaking year for the Art of Research photo contest, with more than 100 faculty, staff, students, and alumni submitting engaging and thought-provoking research images. The 2020 competition is the largest in the contest’s five-year history, with images winning 10 category and special prizes.

The Art of Research image take us behind-the-scenes of the everyday research experience. From images capturing remote fieldwork to invisible particles under the microscope, the Art of Research seeks to spark curiosity and visualize the ground-breaking research happening at Queen’s. The contest strives to represent the diversity and creativity of Queen’s research, with winners representing multiple disciplines and submissions highlighting research happening at all career stages. This year’s winners will be featured in a digital photo gallery showcasing the contest’s winners and top submissions from the past five years on the Research@Queen’s website.

Category: Invisible Discoveries

[Photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle]

Porous Plastic Particle

Submitted by: Ross Jansen-van Vuuren, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry

Location of Photo: Bruce Hall, SEM Lab, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: The photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle created in our chemistry laboratory, taken with an instrument called a Scanning Electron Microscope, which allows us to zone in and see important details on the surface of the hydrogel. A hydrogel is essentially a plastic material that is able to absorb very large volumes of water (up to 800 times its weight!) – much like a baby diaper, swelling as it does so. From the image, the surface of the hydrogel is seen to possess large, distinctive pores, which help us understand how and why hydrogels absorb so much liquid.

Category: Out in the Field

[Aerial view algal blooms in South Frontenac County]

Nature's van Gogh

Submitted by: Hayden Wainwright, Student (MSc), Biology

Location of Photo: South Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada

Description of Photo: Algal blooms appear as smears of green slime from the ground, but are beautiful pieces of abstract art from an aerial view, painted by wind and sunlight. My research takes me to lakes on the Canadian Shield affected by blooms, where I photograph them with a drone while assistants help me collect water samples. By uncovering when, where, and why they appear, we hope to restore some of Canada’s most beautiful lakes to their pristine states.

Category: Best Description

[Aerial photograph of the Adelabu Market in Ibadan, Nigeria]

Under the Umbrella

Submitted by: Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Faculty, Gender Studies; Geography and Planning

Location of Photo: Ibadan, Nigeria

Description of Photo: On a very hot day, I went to the Adelabu Market in Ibadan, Nigeria, to meet Sarah. Several phone calls later, we found each other. She brought me inside a nearly abandoned plaza. “Less noisy,” she said. We climbed up to the highest floor. During the interview, she told me her livelihood as a market woman funded her children’s education. Rain or shine, she is at the market every day, under her umbrella. When we finished the interview, I looked down. What a view! As I snapped a photo, I wondered: “What are the stories of the other people under the umbrellas?”

Category: Art in Action

[Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) depicting diffusion of water throughout the brain]

The Wiring of the Brain

Submitted by: Donald Brien, Staff, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Location of Photo: Centre for Neuroscience Studies, MRI Facility, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: An example of Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) from Queen’s new Prisma Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Some of the most beautiful images generated by MRI are created by imaging the diffusion (movement) of water throughout the brain. From this diffusion, we can generate maps of the neuron connections that are responsible for carrying messages from one area of the brain to another. Seen here, they are coded by direction, such that blue tracts move from foot to head, red tracts move from left to right in the head, and green tracts move from the front to the back of the head.  There are 30,000 tracts displayed in this image. By adulthood, the average person has ~160,000 km total length of these tracts.

Category: Community Collaborations

[A group of researchers collaborating in a space with mobile robots]

Researchers at Offroad Robotics

Submitted by: Heshan Fernando, Student (PhD), Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Location of Photo: Jackson Hall, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: A group of multidisciplinary engineering researchers with expertise in mining and construction applications, mechanical and mechatronics systems, as well as electrical and computer engineering collaborate to develop the next generation of field and mobile robots.

Category: People's Choice

[Researchers and community members travelling on snowmobiles]

Learning from the Land

Submitted by: Sarah Flisikowski, Student (MES), School of Environmental Studies

Location of Photo: Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada

Description of Photo: The transmission and documentation of traditional knowledge and skills is of great importance to Inuit, especially considering the continuing social, environmental, and economic changes in the Arctic. I am examining how Inuit traditional knowledge is generated and shared through a case study of an existing project in Ulukhaktok called Nunamin Illihakvia, which means "learning from the land" in Inuinnaqtun. Participants from other Inuvialuit communities were invited to travel to Ulukhaktok in February 2020 to participate in cultural activities that promoted discussion on what a cultural learning program should include. This photo shows our first trip out on Queen's Bay together.

KHGRI Prize

Sponsored by Kingston General Health Research Institute

[Patient care simulation depicting one researcher and one patient]

This is EPIC: Simulation Education with Patient Actors to Improve Care

Submitted by: Monakshi Sawhney, Faculty, School of Nursing

Location of Photo: Education and Research Centre, North York General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario

Description of Photo: Simulation education, using standardized patient actors, is a unique way to provide education in health care settings to practicing clinicians. It is an opportunity to practice assessment skills and critical thinking in a safe environment that mimics the patient care setting. Our team implemented this concept at a hospital in Toronto, with a focus on researching the outcomes of a simulation intervention for nurses who care for patients receiving epidural analgesia for pain management after surgery. This photograph depicts the real-to-life patient care environment that was created for this study.

Graduate Studies Prize

Sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies

[Fish eye lens photograph of Dog Lake]

Shattered Planet

Submitted by: Allen Tian, Student (MSc), Biology

Location of Photo: Milburn Bay, Dog Lake, South Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada

Description of Photo: The impact of human activity on our planet is often difficult to see in the moment, and requires a long-term, overlooking, view. This photo is a drone panorama of my field site on the Rideau Canal System, where I investigate the impact of human activity on aquatic ecosystems, particularly the development of toxic algal blooms. Activities such as fishing, property development and farming have fragmented and altered this ecosystem, and we need a holistic, broader view to piece together how we can protect our delicate, beautiful, world.

Innovation, Knowledge Mobilization, and Entrepreneurship Prize

Sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation

[Photograph of a leg being prepared for dynamic X-ray video]

Propelling Research

Submitted by: Lauren Welte, Student (PhD), Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Location of Photo: Skeletal Observation Laboratory, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: Our feet make contact with the ground millions of times within our lifetime, yet we still do not completely understand how they function. Using dynamic X-ray video, we image foot bones in ways we could only previously imagine.  Recent work has questioned several popular theories about soft tissue function in the arch. Ongoing research aims to understand healthy foot function, to better inform treatments for foot pain. This research has the capacity to propel our understanding of foot function forward.

Health Sciences Prize

Sponsored by the Faculty of Health Sciences

[Microscopic photo of cells within a brain region]

A Glance in the Brain

Submitted by: Natalia de Menezes Lyra e Silva, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Location of Photo: Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: The primate brain is highly specialized, allowing us an incredible range of experiences. This microscopic photo captures cells within a brain region, the hippocampus, involved with learning and memory. Every lived experience that we are able to remember has boosted the formation of new connections in our brains. These connections are affected in diseases that impair memory, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we can observe cells involved with the brain inflammatory response. These cells are upregulated in the brains of AD patients. This technique allows us to better understand how our brains work and how they are altered by diseases.

 

To learn more about this year’s winners and explore past winners and top submissions, visit The Art of Research Photo Gallery on the Research@Queen’s website.

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