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Student Learning Experience

A unique take on street art

  • Stopping by the exhibit were Stephen Elliott (Dean, Faculty of Education, l), Rebecca Luce-Kapler (Associate Dean, Faculty of Education) and Peter Chin (Associate Dean, Faculty of Education).
  • Artist in residence Nancy Douglas discusses the mural with Stephen Elliott.
  • Artist in residence Nancy Douglas explains the project to Angela Solar (Faculty of Education) and visitor Mandy Marciniak.
  • The mural was created by students from Frontenac and First Avenue Public Schools.
  • The mural mounted on a floor gave viewers a unique top-down view of the artwork.
  • First-year education students Alexandra Brickman (l) and Victoria Courtney stopped by the gallery.

Students from Frontenac Public School and First Avenue Public School converged on The Studio Gallery at Queen’s Faculty of Education Tuesday for the unveiling of the 210 square foot mural representing their neighbourhood. The project, titled My Magical Neighbourhood, includes contributions from Grade 4 students.

“We normally pull from the Queen’s Education artistic pool for shows in this space, but this is a great opportunity to engage the community,” says Angela Solar, lecturer in the Faculty of Education and the curator of The Studio Gallery at Queen’s Faculty of Education “It also gives our teacher candidates a chance to see what children are learning about art. It’s an amazing experience.”

Led by Limestone District School Board’s artist in residence Nancy Douglas, the project encouraged the students to look at their neighbourhood through a different lens.

“This is a really wonderful experience for the students,” says Ms. Douglas. “They hadn’t seen the mural all together and mounted until today. It makes a huge impact on their lives with the public here, the media here and teachers and other students visiting the gallery.”

Ms. Douglas tackled the project in different stages. The students first had to sketch their home. Then they had to write a fable or a story about their home and neighbourhood. Next, she took them on a walking tour of their neighbourhood to learn about their surroundings. Finally, the students got together, designed the mural and created each panel representing where they live.

The show runs weekdays from 11 am to 2 pm until Oct. 10.

Uncovering Herstmonceux Castle's history

For the past seven years, Scott McLean has been analyzing the archaeology of the Herstmonceux Castle estate in East Sussex, England. A new excavation program at the estate aims to uncover the ways medieval peoples adapted when the region went through climate change.

Members of the excavation team worked this summer at a site called Mota Piece.

“Through combined excavations, archival research and environmental analysis we are hoping to reconstruct a better understanding of what the Herstmonceux Castle estate was like during the medieval period,” says Scott McLean, an associate professor of history at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). “With the information we gather, we hope to learn more about how the owners coped with the fierce storms and rising sea levels that constituted this period of climate change.”

The Herstmonceux estate occupies 600 acres of land adjacent to the Pevensey Levels, an ecologically sensitive region that was repeatedly flooded starting in the 13th century when the world entered a period of global cooling known as the Little Ice Age.

Dr. McLean’s research scope has expanded with the excavation program that draws in collaborators from Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo. The program, which has received a $200,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, will also place a strong focus on training students in archeology, archival research and public history research.

“The Herstmonceux Estate excavation provides an excellent opportunity for fruitful collaboration between experts at the BISC, Queen’s and the University of Waterloo,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Participating in and observing operations at the archaeological sites also represents a unique hands-on learning opportunity for students studying at the BISC.” 

After their first summer of excavation, the team has turned up evidence of an early manor house on the edge of Pevensey Levels. The researchers have also uncovered approximately 100 previously unknown medieval documents related to the castle and estate.

 Excavations at Herstmonceux Estate are planned to continue until 2017.

Medical students create hands-on surgical skills program

SSTEP Program
Student Richard Di Len, left, with Dean Richard Reznick at a surgical skills program made possible through the Medical School Excellence Fund, a fund created through donations from alumni and friends.

Second year Queen’s medical students had a special opportunity during their first two weeks of summer break to practice their surgical skills.

A year in the making, the Surgical Skills and Technology Elective Program (SSTEP) was an idea proposed by second-year medical students Jennifer Siu and Stefania Spano to give students the opportunity to build and reinforce foundational knowledge and skills, in a supervised environment. Through their leadership, SSTEP brought together 24 second-year students and more than 27 faculty members and resident facilitators for two weeks of hands-on learning and surgical skill building.

In order to create the curriculum for SSTEP, Ms. Siu and Ms. Spano used the First Year Surgical Residency Bootcamp as a guideline, and built a program that gradually took students from basic skills like knot tying and suturing on to more complex procedures using a variety of materials.

“Our goal was to give students more time and supervision to practice their procedural skills in a simulated environment and in doing so, to help increase their overall understanding, competence, and confidence when they are asked to assist, observe, or perform similar procedures on patients,” said Ms. Siu.

Each day of the program honed in on skills used within a specific medical specialty, exposing students to procedures from general surgery, orthopedics, otolaryngology, obstetrics and gynecology, plastic surgery, anesthesiology, family medicine, and urology. Physicians from each specialty and nurses from Kingston General Hospital acted as teachers and facilitators.

“It was important for us to create a non-threatening academic environment where students could receive one-on-one guidance from faculty or residents in their area of expertise,” said Ms. Spano.

The program was hosted at the Medical School’s Clinical Simulation Centre, allowing the students to take advantage of the state-of-the-art surgical simulation facility simulated environment provided there.

SSTEP was realized with the support of an interdisciplinary team, spanning the Faculty of Health Sciences, with help from Dean Richard Reznick himself.

“We came up with the idea in April 2013, then proposed it to Dr. Reznick in October 2013,”Ms. Spano says. “He was enthusiastic about the idea and helped set us up with the appropriate partnerships”.

An important element of this partnership was that it was supported financially by the Medical School Excellence Fund, which is resourced by donations from alumni and friends. The fund, which was created in 2009, supports a variety of initiatives including educational technology, simulation, clinical learning, innovative research and student-led initiatives, and in this case, provided essential funding to bring SSTEP to fruition.

With the project given the go-ahead, Ms. Siu and Ms. Spano recruited two fellow students, Daniel You and Riaz Karmali, to their organizing committee.

“This initiative was entirely organized by our students and reflects their great passion and enthusiasm for self-directed education. We strive to offer opportunities like this to our students here at Queen’s; this facilitates the development of physicians who can demonstrate a broad array of competencies, including skills in advocacy, management and leadership,” remarked Dr. Reznick.

After a jam-packed two weeks of learning, the SSTEP leaders were pleased to find that the feedback was all positive, amongst facilitators and the students themselves.

“Learning alongside 23 of my future colleagues and friends was what made the program such a great experience for me,” one student commented. “The enthusiasm each student brought to listening and learning from the facilitators made it an experience I will never forget.”

One goal of Queen’s Initiative Campaign is to raise funds to enhance many aspects of the student learning experience, including opportunities to learn in different ways through experiential learning such as the SSTEP Program.

The Initiative Campaign is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The goal is to raise half a billion dollars to ensure Queen’s future as a destination for exceptional people. In addition to enhancing the student learning experience, the campaign will nurture a supportive campus community, and secure a global reputation in discovery and inquiry.


Students get up-close look at the Isabel

  • [Isabel Open House - Wind Ensemble]
    Members of the Queen's Wind Ensemble practice during the student open house held the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House - Ceremony]
    Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf speaks following the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the student open house at the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House]
    A special open house for students was held at the Isabel on Saturday, Sept. 13.
  • [Isabel Open House - Sound Lab]
    Visitors explore the Isabel's new sound lab during the student open house on Saturday.
  • [Isabel Open House - Wood Press]
    Students use a wood press during the student open house held at the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House - Dan Tremblay]
    Wind Ensemble director Dan Tremblay works with ensemble members during the student open house held at the Isabel.
  • [Isabel Open House - Theatre]
    Vickie Sprenger performs in front of Craig Walker and Tim Fort of the Department of Drama.

Queen’s students got an inside view of all the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts (also known as “the Isabel”) has to offer on Saturday during a special open house.

Visitors were able to tour the recently-completed building while also taking in performances by fellow students held in the state-of-the art concert hall, rehearsal hall, film screening room, as well as other locations.

There also was a hands-on aspect to the day as visitors could learn how to operate a wood press and find out what is happening on campus at the Performing Arts Clubs Fair, held in the lobby.

The open house wrapped up with a concert by Polaris Music Prize-nominated band Timber Timbre, part of The Isabel Goes Alt concert series. 

Go online to find out more about the Isabel.

Inhabiting the Isabel

Though students have inhabited its spaces since classes started earlier this week, the doors of the university’s newest building will formally swing open on Saturday with a day of programming designed to highlight how it will be used in the months and years to come.

The student opening celebration of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is on Saturday, September 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts (also known as “the Isabel”) student opening celebration will provide an opportunity for Queen’s students to explore the building’s many spaces, including the state-of-the art concert hall, the rehearsal hall, and the film screening room, among others, many of which will be animated by student performers.

“We’ve been looking forward to this student open house for some time now,” says Jerry Doiron, the Isabel’s director, “because ultimately, this is a building for teaching and learning. It’s a building we hope our students feel at home in – one that will enable them to create and collaborate as they learn.”

Over the course of Saturday afternoon, visitors to the Isabel will be able to hear student musicians rehearse, watch student-made short films, learn to operate a wood press, see exhibitions of student art, step into a theatre master class and visit the Performing Arts Clubs Fair in the building’s lobby.

The Isabel’s student open house takes place on Saturday, Sept. 13, with opening remarks at 11:30 am. Programming continues until 4 pm.

The day will culminate with a performance by the Toronto band Timber Timbre in the Isabel’s intimate concert hall at 7:30 pm. 

Visit the Isabel’s website for the complete schedule.

QSII win a boost for young entrepreneurs

Mosaic Manufacturing
Team members of Mosaic Manufacturing, from left, Mitch Debora, Derek Vogt, Danny Lloyd, Heather Evans and Chris Labelle, celebrate after taking the top prize in the Queen's Summer Innovation Initiative. Photo by Jim McLellan

After four months of planning, preparation and development, the students in the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII) made their final pitch presentations to a panel of judges. In front of a roomful of professors, peers, media and industry professionals, each business team made the case why their company should take the top prize. For a precious few minutes they succinctly explained their product, what they had achieved so far, and what they planned on doing with the money at stake before being needled with tough questions from the judges.  

For the summer break, the students assembled into small teams and were given a crash course in entrepreneurship, innovation and business management before brainstorming an idea for a start-up business. With $2,500 in seed money each team set about building and designing their businesses from the ground up, collaborating and competing with each other along the way.

“The students make real companies and they run them independently, generating commercial revenue,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Queen’s Innovator Connector, who oversees QSII. “It’s a program that we wanted to be as realistic as possible, giving students a chance for experiential learning outside of the classroom. They’re learning how to create and manage businesses; we’ve just removed some of the risks of entrepreneurship.”
To make QSII more available to a broader group of students, those participating are paid a stipend while they work on their businesses.

“Paying our students to participate makes us an anomaly in university entrepreneur internships. Neglecting to pay the students or making the students pay to participate creates a program that’s only accessible to those with the means to do so. This way we have the greatest number of applicants, making for a more intense competition process.”

Once up and running, the student-companies created products such as crowdfunding websites, hospital sanitization devices and a microbrewery. The team who took the top prize, Mosaic Manufacturing, invented an addition to consumer 3D printers, dramatically improving their ability to print in colour.

Winning the competition netted them a $40,000 prize to further build their business.

“After months of hard work, it’s fantastic to take first place,” says Chris Labelle (Comm’14). “We have access to excellent facilities and resources here at Queen’s and we couldn’t have won without the support we’ve received.”

Working out of the Integrated Learning Centre in Beamish-Munro Hall, all the QSII teams had access to SparQ Labs, a makerspace that has tools, fabricators and a milling machine to create their products. SparQ Labs is also accessible to Queen’s students throughout the academic year.

Mosaic and some of the other competitors have now moved their offices and operations to Innovation Park where they’ll continue to work on their products. For Mosaic, they have a clear plan of what to do next that includes hiring more staff, further developing their device and creating a crowdfunding campaign. Things don’t end there though, because they have big goals for the future. “We’ve spoken to a lot of people who have ideas about what they want to use 3D printers for, and the technology just isn’t there yet,” Mr. Labelle says. “We hope one day you can print anything you can imagine, and we want to help make that happen.”

This article is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus. Follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

Mental health committee releases first report

Mental Health Report
Queen's students walk along University Avenue on Thursday. The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health has released its first annual report to the university community. University Communications

The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health (PACMH) has released its first annual report to the university community, highlighting Queen’s accomplishments and making recommendations for action over the next two years.

“Student mental health remains a priority for Queen’s and we continue to work to create a campus community that fosters wellness and encourages help-seeking behaviour,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The PACMH plays an important role in continuing the work of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health.”

The PACMH was created last year to oversee the implementation of recommendations of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health (PCMH). Queen’s has already implemented many of the PCMH’s recommendations and other initiatives to promote mental health, including the launch of academic support programs like Q Success and Bounce Back, increased service capacity at Health, Counselling and Disability Services, and an Anti-Stigma Workshops in Residence program.

The 16 recommendations identified as priorities for assessment and action over the next two years include considering the establishment of a dedicated exam centre and distributing mental health referral information for faculty to share with students at the start of their classes.

The report also outlines results from the 2013 National College Health Assessment Student Survey. Queen’s was one of 32 Canadian post-secondary institutions that participated in the North American study. More than 90 per cent of Queen’s students surveyed said they felt “overwhelmed by all they had to do” at some point in the previous 12 months, and more than half said at some point they felt “things were hopeless.”

“The survey results are similar to the other Canadian institutions participating, and they underscore why promoting mental health remains vitally important,” says Deputy Provost Laeeque Daneshmend, chair of the PACMH. “The advisory committee will continue to work with its partners across campus to build a supportive and inclusive Queen’s community.”

The PCMH was established by Principal Woolf in September 2011 to assist the university in its ongoing efforts to be a proactive and responsive community that promotes every student’s success from the day they arrive through to graduation.

The full annual report of the PACMH is available on the Provost’s website.

Mixing medicine with art and literature

An unusual course in the School of Medicine asks questions other classes leave off the syllabus.

Medicine and Literature, an elective course offered to first- and second-year medical students, has participants discuss readings on the patient experience, gender and medicine, medical mistakes and a number of other topics.

The cover image of the Spring 2014 edition of Mixed Gears was created by Geneviève Rochon-Terry. Supplied image

The small class of about 12 students reads selections of poetry, fiction and memoir before coming together in a seminar-style setting to converse about them.

“A lot of current medicine practice focuses on developing empathy in the practitioner and I think engaging with writing is an excellent way to do that,” says Dr. Sadiqa Khan, one of the course’s instructors. “Reading allows you to see the world through a different set of eyes and absorb the experiences of another person.”

Now co-instructing the course with Dr. Shayna Watson, Dr. Khan, Meds’06, has been teaching at Queen’s since 2008. The Medicine and Literature course though, has a much longer history.

Originally offered to both students in the Faculty of Law as well as med students, the course was called “Images of Doctors and Lawyers in Literature.” Co-taught by Professor Mark Weisberg (Law) and Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, it became a solely medical course after Weisberg’s retirement in 2010.   

An enduringly popular course, Dr. Khan rotates the syllabus every year because so many students like to take it two years in a row.

“Medical school can be frightening,” she says. “You’re close to a lot of human suffering and there’s the potential to make serious mistakes. Doctors are always meant to project an aura of competence, but with this course we want students to engage with their vulnerabilities. Our readings, by people with medical and non-medical backgrounds, often echo the fears and experiences of the students.”

Medicine and Literature also has two optional creative writing classes, where students get to practice their storytelling. One is held in the class, while the other takes the class to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre to look for inspiration.

From work done inside and outside of class, Dr. Khan and the students created Mixed Gears, an anthology that showcases their poetry, fiction, essays and visual art.

“I’m so proud of the students and I think the anthology is amazing,” says Dr. Khan. “The work they brought forward is excellent and the willingness they’ve shown to engage with difficult topics makes me feel optimistic about our future doctors.”

Hollis Roth, Meds’16, took the class in both her first and second years in medical school.

“It was a way of looking at medicine we don’t always get,” she says. “We spoke not just as students and prospective doctors, but as people who have ourselves been patients or have had experiences with medicine through family members.”

Because the class also welcomes drop-ins from those not enrolled in the course, Ms. Roth was able to meet upper-year medical students as well. “We mostly stick with our year’s cohort, so it was really nice to be able to connect with upper years,” she says. “To hear they had gone through the same experiences and had been overwhelmed like I was has been important for me.” 

This article is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus. Follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

Queen's and quaffles

The Queen's Quidditch Club gets ready for its next season.

[photo of Quidditch match]

Since soaring off the pages of the Harry Potter series in 2011, the Queen’s Quidditch Club (QQC) is gearing up to make this upcoming season its best one yet.

QQC has been busy this past summer, with two players representing Canada in the 2014 Global Games in Burnaby, B.C. Vice-President Michael Beda (Artsci’17) is already planning for the return of students to campus.

“We’ve got some exciting things in the works for the upcoming quidditch season,” says Mr. Beda. “Last season was an incredible one for the team and culminated in the Global Games. We hope this next season will be even better.”

In the Global Games, Team Canada defeated Teams Mexico, France and Belgium and UK and placed third behind Teams USA and Australia.

Two QQC players, Andrew Kusters (Sci’15) and Christopher Radojewski (MA’14), represented Canada at the Global Games. Mr. Kusters and Mr. Radojewski spent their past year playing keeper and chaser respectively for Queen’s.

“Winning the bronze in the Global Games and having two Queen’s representatives on the team shows that our school can produce great players for a game that’s still blossoming,” says Mr. Beda, a chaser for QQC. “We were pleased with the result and Andrew and Christopher did Queen’s proud.”

[photo of Quidditch match]

Now, QQC are calling all interested muggles to attend their September tryouts for the 2014-15 season.

Whether their specialty is seeking the snitch, catching the quaffle or beating a bludger, Mr. Beda is looking forward to recruiting new team members and revealing plans for the next season.

QQC has put in bids for holding tournaments for the 16 Canadian teams based on university campuses.

“We’re hoping to hold a couple of small tournaments in between October and November,” says Mr. Beda. “We’ve put in a bid to hold the Canada Cup in 2015 and we remain hopeful that we will be chosen as hosts.”

QQC tryouts will commence during the first week of classes, and teams will be announced the following week. For those who’d prefer to cheer from the stands rather than catch the snitch, QQC hopes to hold some exhibition games in the fall.

To keep up to date with Queen’s Quidditch tryouts or game schedule, visit their Facebook page or website.

A social media success story

Neil Bearse
Neil Bearse, Associate Director of Marketing at Queen’s School of Business, says that keeping in mind a few principles such as listening, adjusting your expectations and being interactive can help bolster a social media campaign. University Communications

With ever-growing numbers of consumers taking to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, droves of companies have followed close behind to get the word out about their products. With so many brands vying for space, it can be difficult to differentiate between what works and what just adds to so much online noise.

A study conducted by the professional networking site LinkedIn ranked the globe’s “Most Influential Brands” to determine what worked and what didn’t. By tracking page views, discussions, shared posts and other interactions, the study established who was winning the race for consumers’ attention.

In Canada, the Queen’s School of Business took one of the top spots due in large part to QSB Insight, an online platform dedicated to sharing knowledge generated at Queen’s with the greater business community. Since April 2013, QSB Insight has been regularly updating, attracting droves of readers. Neil Bearse, QSB’s Associate Director of Marketing who has taught a number of executive education classes shared some of the principles that led to their success.

“When a consumer needs to opt into your message by following you on Twitter, they need to be getting something out of it beyond a flat sales pitch,” he says. “That may have worked in a time when the audience had no choice but to listen to your appeal, but nowadays it’s different.”
During the age of television and radio’s dominance, advertisers were concerned with reach: getting the sales message to as many people as possible.

“At QSB, instead of gearing ourselves towards reach, we solved the equation for value,” Bearse says. “We certainly have those purely informative posts about the fact our MBA programs exist, but they only comprise about 10 per cent of our content. The rest is about showcasing the interesting work that’s happening in our building and our classrooms. We do that by sharing webinars, white papers or exciting conversations.”

Bolstering one’s success on social media can be done by keeping in mind a few principles.

Listen: “When people ask questions, you have to respond,” Bearse says. “Marketing used to be a one-way conversation, but now it’s a dialogue. You need to care about and react to what your followers say, even if they don’t have nice things to say.”

Adjust your expectations: “Companies get onto social media expecting it to be both magical and free. Creating good content requires work and time. Tacking responsibilities to someone’s portfolio without training them or giving them the resources to do it well will leave everyone disappointed.”

Limit choice: “Having too many options is overwhelming, so guide your reader into knowing what their next move should be. If you want them to share a post, design it accordingly, but don’t expect them to share, respond and follow a link,” he says.

Be interactive: “Social media algorithms are designed to quickly spread the posts that are being engaged with, so instead of ending a post with a period that says the conversation is over, end with a question mark that prompts feedback. Of course, be more imaginative than a last-minute, ‘what do you think?’ “

Tone: “I don’t want my bank making jokes,” says Bearse. “Remember to align your message with your brand values and to speak to people in the register you would if they called you on the phone. Every brand needs to ask themselves: Do we use smiley faces? There’s nothing wrong with doing so — just have the conversations in advance to ensure alignment with the image you’re trying to cultivate.

A friendship, not a campaign: “If the first time someone met you they were asked for a big favour, they likely wouldn’t be interested in developing a relationship. If instead, over a period of time you relate to them, engage with them and genuinely want them to be happy, eventually they’ll be happy to help,” he says. “If you’re not getting responses to your posts, ask what you’ve contributed to the relationship that deserves a response.”


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