[University of Waterloo]


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About the DB

Friday, May 6, 2005

  • Teaching and learning under study
  • Aboriginal youth here next week
  • More faculty members on sabbatical
  • First weekend of the spring term
Chris Redmond

Mothers' Day on Sunday


Teaching and learning under study

Everybody's talking about teaching these days, and especially the members of the recently formed Teaching Based Research Group, made up of faculty members interested in serious study of better ways to teach and to learn.

A key person in that activity is Vivian Schoner (pictured), "strategic consultant, research and evaluation", in UW's Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, or LT3. She was spotlighted on the LT3 web site early this year, in a profile noting that she arrived five years ago from Simon Fraser University, where she earned a PhD in cognition and learning. Besides her role at LT3, she is a research associate professor at St. Paul's College.

Schoner's focus, it said, is to work with faculty members interested in conducting classroom-based research on learning to assess the impact of using new methods, techniques, and learning objects. She also undertakes evaluations such as a survey project that focuses on the value students perceived in their use of the pedagogic and technological features of UW's course management system, UW-ACE.

Members of the TBRG present the results of their work to the UW community and in discipline related conferences and publications. "Their work is seminal to the development of the scholarship of teaching and learning as an area of inquiry where a research university like UW can practice what we preach about the value of research and knowledge mobilization," the LT3 profile says.

The TBRG has been boosted by UW's acceptance as a "campus program affiliate" of the Research University Consortium for the Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, which is sponsored by the American Association for Higher Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The consortium, a news release explains, "is developing new models of scholarship for faculty content experts who address contextualized questions about the relationship between teaching and learning in their disciplines".

[Two profs in a messy creative environment] Meanwhile, the senior administrator responsible for LT3 and other initiatives related to teaching -- Tom Carey, associate vice-president (learning resources and innovation) -- is delighted with a page-and-a-half feature that appeared in last Saturday's Record newspaper under the title "What makes a prof great?"

It centred on Jean Andrey of the geography department, who's a winner of the UW Distinguished Teacher Award and a member of another recently created group, the Teaching Excellence Council. That council includes some 20 award-winning teachers, and serves to promote good teaching at Waterloo through such activities as the recent "Presidents' Colloquium" that brought in researcher Keith Trigwell from the University of Oxford.

The Record article, by Barbara Aggerholm, noted the range of innovations that can make teaching more effective: "Some [instructors] run debates. Others introduce chat boards or web logs, using the Internet to give students a running start before they come to class. Andrey occasionally tosses a volleyball into the class to teach statistical probabilities."

The "scholarship of teaching and learning" is the topic of the latest brochure to be issued by UW's office of research in its series on "The Full Spectrum of Research". The cover picture shows Rob Gorbet of electrical and computer engineering and Bruce Taylor of fine arts (pictured at left), whose teaching innovations include Fine Arts 392, the Technology Art Studio. Gorbet and Taylor are also featured this month on the LT3 web site, which notes that they're doing a study of the Studio's effectiveness with support from the Carnegie institute.

Aboriginal youth here next week -- from the UW media relations office

An enrichment program for Aboriginal high school students will bring 28 young people to campus next week. The new program is being called "Firekeepers", says Jean Becker, Aboriginal counsellor based at St. Paul's College, where activities will be centred.

The participants are grade 10 students from parts of southwestern Ontario. They'll stay on campus with a small community of fellow students, taking some classes and workshops customized for their grade level and taught by UW professors, graduate students and members of local Aboriginal communities. St. Paul's and UW will be their laboratory, classroom, library and playground, she said.

"Our Firekeepers community will also include elders as advisers and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal university students as mentors. Everyone here shares the belief that education is a powerful, versatile tool for finding one's purpose in the world," Becker said.

"The Firekeepers program nurtures a love of learning and offers its participants a positive, supportive pre-university experience. Students will get a taste of many different subjects, which will help strengthen their current interests and open up new horizons. After all, how can they choose a direction until they've glimpsed the many paths available?"

During the week, there will be three events open to the public, all in MacKirdy Hall at St. Paul's:

  • Sunday (May 8) 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring Harmony Rice, a young artist and wildflower beekeeping enthusiast from Wasauksing First Nation who is the publisher of Spirit magazine, Canada's premier Aboriginal arts, culture and current affairs magazine.

  • Tuesday (May 10) 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with Lenore Keeshig-Tobias, an award-winning playwright, author and storyteller from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. She will speak about the relationship between Indigenous knowledge and new scientific discoveries.

  • Thursday (May 12) 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring Dean Jacobs, Chief of the Walpole Island First Nation and former executive director of Nin.Da.Waab.Jig, the Walpole Island Heritage Centre. Jacobs is known internationally for his groundbreaking work in community-based environmental and sustainable development research. His topic will be water issues relating to First Nations.

    [Four-storey skeleton]

    Hammarskjöld House opened in 1966 as the first purpose-built building for Waterloo Co-Operative Residence Inc., which now also operates a large complex on Phillip Street just east of the UW campus. WCRI began redevelopment of "Hammar House", at 139 University Avenue West, earlier this year. "The project has seen the demolition of most of the existing building," says WCRI coordinator Cary Hubbard, "and will end with the creation of 87 new single residence rooms in the fall. The new building will bring together the social environment enjoyed in this residence in the past with a product that meets the demands of our current student population." Photo by Andrew Dilts.

    More faculty members on sabbatical

    Here's another list of UW professors who are currently on sabbatical leave -- and what they're doing, as summarized in a report to the university's board of governors.

    Therese Biedl of computer science has a six-month leave that started February 1, "to renew ties and build new co-operation with researchers in graph drawing and graph algorithms in Europe, especially at the Technical University of Vienna".

    B. R. Chou of optometry has a twelve-month sabbatical that's split into two parts: February through July this year and the same months in 2006. The plan: "Eye protector research at the University of New South Wales, Australia; curriculum development at the Department of Optometry, Hogeschool van Utrecht, Netherlands; eye injury survey for US Navy, University of California (Berkeley); and professional qualifying exam development for optometrists in Canada and Trinidad."

    Farhad Mavaddat of computer science is on a six-month leave that began March 1. "I anticipate one (or possibly two) visits to Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. Polyu, as one of a few universities providing an Enterprise Engineering degree program, is an ideal place for writing an Enterprise Engineering book I started there and an EE course I already have started developing. This should leave enough Waterloo time to be spent with two graduate students I continue to support. Should the Polyu visit not materialize, I will spend the time, for the most part, here in Waterloo."

    Mehrdad Kazerani of electrical and computer engineering also went on sabbatical for six months starting March 1. "I will mainly stay in Waterloo. I also plan to have short visits to other universities to meet with colleagues and work on joint projects. Furthermore, I plan to expand my research activities, explore new and emerging areas, and apply for different research grants."

    Andrew Kennings, also of E&CE, has a six-month sabbatical that began May 1. "I intend to spend time at Altera Corporation (Toronto Technology Centre) to gain useful insight into industrial problems for which my research area program is applicable. Desire is to further strengthen ties with this #1 programmable logic semiconductor company. Altera Corporation currently supports my research program via both cash and in-kind contributions."

    Aftab E. Patla of kinesiology is on a twelve-month sabbatical that began May 1. "There are two major goals for my sabbatical. The first is to write a book on Neurobiomechanical Bases for the Control of Adaptive Human Locomotion. The second is to apply for an International Collaborative Grant to the Human Science and Frontiers Program."

    Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Eugene Roman, Bell Systems, "Innovation: What Else Is New?" 12 noon, Needles Hall room 1101, RSVP ext. 7167.

    Bicycle auction sponsored by UW Bike Centre, 12:30, Student Life Centre courtyard.

    'Revelations', short plays by Kenneth Emberly, presented by Poor Tom Productions, tonight and Saturday, Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets 743-7102.

    International student orientation and luncheon, Saturday 10:00 to 1:00, Graduate House -- information e-mail mjibarra@uwaterloo.ca.

    D-Force dance event, Saturday and Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

    Electrical and computer engineering Distinguished Seminar: Shahrokh Valaee, University of Toronto, "Mobile Hotspots", Monday 11 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

    Friends of the Library annual lecture: Howard Burton, Perimeter Institute, "Creativity Unbound", May 17, 12 noon, Theatre of the Arts.

    First weekend of the spring term

    A federal minister will hit campus today to announce what's described as "a major investment in Canadian research" from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. As part of a series of announcements across Canada, Joe Volpe, the minister of citizenship and immigration, will be in Waterloo to present scholarships, fellowships and research grants for professors and students across Ontario, including a number at UW. Today's event starts at 11:30 in the Davis Centre lounge, and will also involve Isabelle Blain, a vice-president of NSERC, as well as UW officials.

    "A few hundred" of UW's future and potential students are expected tomorrow for "Faculty Saturday". Says Heather Godelie, manager of the UW visitors' centre: "This day will provide applicants and their parents with an opportunity to have a campus tour, visit residence and meet with representatives from their faculty. As well, we're also hosting our second President's Reception beginning at 11:00, for recipients of the President's Scholarship." Open house activities will run from 12:30 to 4:00 tomorrow in the Student Life Centre.

    [Totzke] Six people will be inducted into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame at a ceremony Sunday (2 p.m.) at the Doon Heritage Crossroads museum. "Over 400 individuals and groups are recognized in the Waterloo County Hall of Fame," a news release notes, and among those joining them this year is one of UW's pioneers: Carl Totzke (right). A local boy, graduate of Waterloo College (the forerunner of both UW and Wilfrid Laurier University) and footballer for the Kitchener Dutchmen, he became athletic director at Waterloo College in 1954, moving to UW as athletic director and, initially, football coach. By the time he retired in 1989 he was one of just three people remaining who had been working for the university since the day it was founded. The Totzke Trophy for an outstanding male athlete at UW each year is named in his honour.

    A two-day Healthy Buildings Conference gets rolling today at the Architecture building, co-sponsored by the school of architecture. . . . The President's Golf Tournament, an invitational event that's a major fund-raiser for UW athletics, has been scheduled this year for June 6, at the Deer Ridge Golf and Country Club. . . . Computing courses offered this month by information systems and technology include Matlab, Mathcad and SAS, and registration is online as usual. . . .

    Finally, wave goodbye to the present UW central web site if you happen to see it today. If all goes well, a new home page and other central pages will go into operation sometime over the weekend -- reflecting the new "common look and feel" for UW's web presence, improving accessibility, and making it easier for visitors, in particular, to find what they want among Waterloo's third-of-a-million web pages.


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