Wednesday, April 29, 2009

  • Teaching symposium, conference next week
  • 'Advisory' follows swine flu outbreak
  • Grade 9 girls arriving for math event
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Worried student, from poster]Teaching symposium, conference next week

Three big events about teaching and learning are scheduled for next week as the spring term gets under way. Details are on the Centre for Teaching Excellence web site, but here’s a brief rundown.

What the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday activities have in common is Gary Poole, who is director of the Teaching and Academic Growth centre at the University of British Columbia. He describes himself: “I have been very fortunate to spend a considerable amount of time working with people who are dedicated to students' learning, first at SFU, then as President of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, as a 3M Teaching Fellow, and of course, with the staff here at TAG.

“Teaching is one of those pursuits featuring endless opportunities for growth. That is certainly one reason why I have spent my career being fascinated by it. And never has there been a more fascinating time to teach and learn. Emerging technologies, exciting methods such as problem-based and inquiry-based learning, and internationalization of the curriculum are just a few of the developments that keep us challenged and vibrant in our work with students and with the teaching community.

“I am also a member of the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, where I teach medical and dental students, and conduct research investigating factors that affect people's ability to cope with cancer. When I'm not immersed in TAG or the Medical Faculty, I'm probably coaching soccer or grappling with a crossword puzzle.”

[Poole]Monday’s event is a talk by Poole (left), billed as the Presidents' Colloquium on Teaching and Learning because it is co-sponsored by the president of UW and the president of the faculty association. The lecture is titled “But Will That Be on the Test? Encouraging Deeper Learning” and starts at 2:00 in the Humanities Theatre. A wine-and-cheese reception follows.

Explaining the topic of the talk, Poole writes, “Why is it that the deepest question some students ask is ‘Will that be on the test?’ Have you ever wondered about the role that we, as teachers, play in creating this attitude? Like all of us, students expend learning effort according to messages they pick up regarding how much effort is required. We often espouse the importance of deep learning, yet may employ strategies that send the message that surface learning is appropriate. How do we build curriculum, assessments, and in-class activities that make it more likely students will engage in deep learning?”

The lecture is the first half of the annual Learning About Teaching symposium, which focuses on enhancing teaching and learning at the University of Waterloo and is sponsored by the Teaching Excellence Council — a committee made up of faculty members who have won UW teaching awards. A sub-committee of the TEC, co-chaired by Carey Bissonnette of chemistry and Ron McCarville of recreation and leisure studies, organized the symposium. Other committee members include Marta Bailey, Donna Ellis, and Nicola Simmons of the CTE.

On Tuesday, the symposium continues with two workshops that Poole will facilitate. The first focuses on “using door-opening concepts” in teaching, and runs from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. The second workshop further examines deeper learning: “We can promote deeper learning. Here's how.” It runs from 2:00 to 4:00, also in the Flex Lab. Both workshops have limited enrolment and are restricted to faculty members.

Then on Wednesday comes “Opportunities and New Directions: A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning”, which isn’t part of the symposium but is being held in the same week in order to take advantage of the same visiting expert. The event runs all day in rooms at Conrad Grebel University College.

Poole will give the keynote talk for the conference at 9:00 Wednesday morning in the Grebel great hall, under the title “The Promise of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Fulfilled or Unfulfilled?” (He writes: “In this session, we will examine some of the reasons why the promises of SoTL have not been sufficiently fulfilled, with the aim of moving forward in ways that get us closer to SoTL’s full potential.”)

The conference is sponsored by the Teaching-Based Research Group, a growing cluster of faculty members interested in doing research about teaching and learning. It also gets support from CTE and from the associate vice-president (academic).

“We welcome anyone interested in this scholarship,” the conference publicity says, “to join us for an exciting opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues from multiple disciplines and to engage in conversations about new research, work in progress, and emerging ideas.”

Speakers are coming from all over Canada, but there’s a strong representation from UW. Among the papers that will be presented in multiple sessions on Wednesday:

• “Combining Human Tutors with a Computer Quizzing System to Improve Tutorial Delivery”, by Gregory Niestrawski, systems design engineering, and Carol Hulls, mechanical and mechatronics engineering.

• “Assessing the Use of Enhanced Podcasts: Learning vs. Attendance”, by Jane Holbrook of CTE and Christine Dupont, department of biology.

• “Return to the Agora: Small Group Work in a Philosophy Learning Commons”, by Shannon Dea and Kurt Holukoff of the philosophy department.

Other papers will deal with the use of clickers, the future of the humanities curriculum, grade inflation, internationalization, and “closing the distance in distance education”. Abstracts of all the talks are on the conference web site.

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'Advisory' follows swine flu outbreak

a memo issued yesterday by UW's human resources department

The current outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and the small number of cases in Canada, the U.S. and several other countries prompted a meeting of the UW Pandemic Steering Committee this morning. While there is no immediate cause for alarm, public health authorities have issued a travel advisory for Mexico. As well, the World Health Organization and federal and provincial public health organizations are keeping a careful watch on the situation.

Region of Waterloo Public Health

Centers for Disease Control

UW’s committee will be issuing regular updates by email and through the Daily Bulletin on actions and precautions being taken as required. The first campus advisory is as follows:

It is important for students and employees to take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves from infection. You will recall from our Pandemic Plan that there are three major things you can do to help prevent the spread of flu.

Wash your hands. Frequent washing of your hands with soap under warm running water reduces your chance of getting the flu. If soap and warm water are not available, alcohol based hand gel should be used and everyone should keep some in their pocket or purse.

Cough into your sleeve. Covering your mouth is not sufficient protection from spreading germs to others. Your sleeve and arm is the best way to block the spread of infection.

Stay home if you have a fever and other symptoms such as muscle aches, headache, cough, fatigue and weakness. While many of us believe that toughing it out and coming to work is a good thing, experience suggests that this is a major cause of infections being passed from one person to another. Remember to protect your co-workers and stay at home until you are not symptomatic.

Call your doctor if you have symptoms. Call means telephone, not a visit. Visiting increases the risk of others being infected. Your doctor will decide if you need to be seen in person.

These precautions make a huge impact on containing the spread of flu and other illness. Please practice them every day. While this recent outbreak may not become a pandemic, it is in everyone’s interests to protect themselves, their families and their co-workers.

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Grade 9 girls arriving for math event

a news release from the UW media relations office

UW will host the inaugural Think About Math conference this week to boost girls' interest in mathematics and increase the number of women pursuing math-related careers. Forty Grade 9 girls from high schools across Southern Ontario will attend the weekend conference, starting tomorrow. The event has attracted high interest — participants were selected from a pool of more than 150 applicants.

"We want to show the girls that math is fun, relevant and leads to lucrative and exciting careers," said Fiona Dunbar, director of the event. "Grade 9 is a pivotal year for girls. We hope that by engaging with young women we will be able to increase their confidence and preference for math in the early years of high school."

The conference is made possible by a 2007 donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to UW's Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. UW and the foundation share a common goal to give young people the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a world of innovation.

The conference sessions will be led by 15 professional women involved in math-related careers. The hands-on workshops will highlight the importance of mathematics in a variety of careers, including software development, environmental engineering and investment banking, as well as such day-to-day activities as personal finance and social networks like Facebook. One session will give insight into the reality of being a math grad by analyzing and summarizing data from a recent survey of 800 female UW math graduates highlighting career path, salary and personal interests.

Organizers hope this conference will grow a grassroots community of girls, young women and established professional women who can share perspective and work together to reverse the declining number of women taking up math careers.

CEMC's outreach program, the largest of its kind in Canada, offers enrichment opportunities in mathematics and computer science for young people and educators in Canada and around the world. Formally established in 1995, but with activity dating back to the early 1960s, the CEMC has produced a successful model for reaching mathematics and computer science students. During the last year alone, contests, workshops and Internet resources have reached more than 450,000 students and about 10,000 teachers at about 1,500 schools, primarily throughout Canada.


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Davis doors closed

The west doors to the Davis Centre great hall, opening on to the Math quadrangle, were blocked yesterday for the last stages of construction work as sliding doors are being installed. They'll reopen Thursday afternoon. Until then, pedestrians can detour to the doors in the Davis-Math link near Tim Hortons, or other building entrances on the north and east.

Link of the day

Ice at Niagara 100 years ago

When and where

Graduate Student Research Conference through Thursday, Davis Centre. Details. Keynote addresses Wednesday: John Garcia, Cancer Care Ontario, 1:30, Davis room 1350; Josh Neufeld, UW biology, 4:15, Davis 1302.

UW-ACE system will be down until Wednesday 12:00 noon.

‘Explore the World of Paul’ travel course led by Tom Yoder Neufeld, Conrad Grebel University College, April 29 through May 15.

Math and Computer building hot and cold water shut off for repairs Wednesday 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

‘Decluttering and Downsizing’ seminar sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, 12:00, Math and Computer room 2065.

Survey Research Centre presents Stephen Porter, Wesleyan University, “Do College Student Survey Questions Have Any Validity?” focusing on National Survey of Student Engagement, 3:30, PAS building room 1229.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term: April 30 (bank transfer). Details.

UW bookstore, UW Shop, TechWorx and Campus TechShop closed Thursday, April 30, for year-end inventory; reopening Friday, May 1.

Pension and benefits committee Thursday 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

International spouses potluck lunch Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Philosophy Graduate Student Association annual conference, Thursday-Friday, Humanities room 373. Keynoter: Sanford Goldberg, Northwestern University, “Socializing Reliability”, Friday 4:30 p.m. Details.

K-W Symphony “Fearless Piano”, soloist Eve Egoyan, Thursday 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Ontario Water Works Association student chapter, based in civil and environmental engineering, free tour of Walkerton Clean Water Centre demonstration facility with carpool from campus, Friday, e-mail kmsuperi@ engmail to make arrangements.

Convergences 2009: café-rencontre des étudiants de 2e et 3e cycles, département d’études françaises, vendredi 11h30 à 16h00, Humanities salle 334.

Penderecki String Quartet and Dancetheatre David Earle concert Friday, May 1, 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, as part of the Open Ears Festival, tickets $28 (students $22).

Community Garden Fest Saturday 10:00 to 3:00, Unity Centre, 2631 Kingsway Drive, Kitchener: workshops, children’s activities, speaker Jim Diers, “Building Community in the Garden”. Details.

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 4.

Library books due: books borrowed on term loan before the beginning of April are due May 6; renewals online.

David Johnston Run for Health (fourth annual) around the ring road, walk or run, May 6, 4:15 p.m., starts at Needles Hall, participation free, register ext. 84830.

Recreation and Leisure Studies 40th anniversary leisure studies research forum, May 7, 8:45 to 4:30, Lyle Hallman Institute. Details.

International student orientation for new students from outside Canada, organized by Waterloo International, May 7, 12:30 to 4:00, Needles Hall room 1116. Details.

Canadian Forum on Theology and Education meets at St. Jerome’s University May 7-9; details. Keynote speaker: Rev. Diarmuid O’Murchu, “Evolutionary Faith”, Thursday, May 7, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, all welcome.

E-waste Green Day sponsored by UW central stores and Greentec Recycling Services: drop off electronic items (on approved list) for free recycling, May 9, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., East Campus Hall.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term courses posted in Quest May 11; appointments June 22-27 for continuing students, July 13-26 for new students; open enrolment begins July 27.

UW Blooms annual exchange of seeds, seedlings and garden supplies, Monday, May 11, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

Communitech Tech Leadership Conference Thursday May 14, Bingemans Conference Centre, Kitchener. Details.

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, May 14-16, 20-23 at 8 p.m., May 23 at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 18: UW offices and most services closed, and classes cancelled.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Research associate, scientific writing and research administration, school of pharmacy, USG 8
• Tutor (graduate), English language proficiency program, USG 7
• Accounts receivable analyst, finance, USG 8/9
• General cafeteria helper, food services

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