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Thursday, November 20, 2014

  • Ideas for international instruction innovation
  • IEW photo contest, research showcase today
  • Agreement aims to improve health in the north
  • Startup takes baby steps to million-dollar prize

Ideas for international instruction innovation

by Fahd Munir. This piece was originally published on the Centre for Teaching Excellence's website. It is being republished here as part of International Education Week.

For Dr. Shannon Dea, the essence of good teaching is giving students space to learn. In her philosophy courses, such as “Philosophy 202: Gender Issues,” Dea facilitates class discussions, believing that many aspects of philosophy can be learned through vigorous debate. Dea also hopes to design philosophy classes so that students whose first language is not English do not feel at a disadvantage. She elaborates, “Teachers should recognize the diversity of learners and design the course around it.” Dea uses transformative teaching moments to support student learning.

One of those transformative moments was her recent trip to Nanjing, China to teach Western philosophy to international students. In China, Dea rediscovered how effective in-class group work is, especially since most of her students found it difficult to find a time to discuss topics outside of class. Group work provided international students with an opportunity to openly debate topics within the discipline, while at the same time allowing them to speak in their first language. One of Dea’s former students, Ananya Chattoraj, affirmed this approach, saying, “She includes group activities to bring together a collaborative community of philosophers.”

Learning, according to Dea, is a form of labour and should feel to some extent like a struggle. In order to facilitate this struggle with her students in China, Dea assigned fewer and shorter readings, and designated class time to converse about short passages from the assigned readings. In her Gender Issues course she has incorporated an “à la carte” assessment method, where students determine the method of earning their grades and then work individually or in groups to complete creative tasks such as blogs, sculptures, and plays. Dea believes that this assessment method allows students to develop intellectual autonomy and study strategies.

Dea aims to reduce student stress about grades, and explains that the process of earning participation marks should be transparent to students. This is especially true when a language barrier is present, so Dea has incorporated participation grades in the form of “Phil Bucks.” The Phil Bucks are awarded to students for every constructive comment that they make in class. Students can earn one Phil Buck per class with a total of 10 Phil Bucks needed to achieve full participation credit in class. Fostering class participation via Phil Bucks, in conjunction with having students use name tags, has also helped the students get to know one another, which leverages social learning.

Traditionally, the concept of teaching philosophy has emphasized reading or writing, but Dea argues that philosophy extends to thinking critically and challenging social norms by asking good questions. Reading and writing are simply one of numerous ways to achieve the learning outcomes; there is no need to give international students arbitrary challenges that may be historical accidents of our Western educational systems.

In order to help achieve the learning outcomes, students are encouraged to share their personal experiences in dealing with different cultures. Students can then complete follow-up assignments to solidify their understanding, such as comparing Western and Eastern philosophers. For Ananya Chattoraj this approach "has encouraged me to take creative risks with topics that I would have otherwise felt uncomfortable with.”

Dea advises any instructor hoping to teach internationally to be well prepared. She emphasizes that “International teaching provides us with a real incentive and opportunity to focus on our intended learning outcomes, to make sure they are the appropriate learning outcomes for that course, and then to plan our courses around those learning outcomes.”

Graduate student Nathan Haydon believes that Dea’s international experiences allow her to foster a unique learning atmosphere, stating, “Shannon clearly wants students to succeed and makes a point to give students the freedom and responsibility necessary to develop the skills to do so: structuring courses so that students can pursue their own interests and research goals, even sometimes giving them a say in selecting the readings.” In short, Dea believes that teaching international students should take a teleological approach; that is, it should be focused on achieving learning outcomes, not on the traditional means of achieving those learning outcomes.


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The winning photo from last year's Where in the World contest - a field of flowers.
IEW photo contest, research showcase today

International Education Week (IEW) continues today with two major events: the annual "Where in the World?!" photo contest and an International Research Showcase.

Co-operative Education and Career Action's International Team will be hosting its 6th annual "Where in the World?!" photo contest in the Tatham Centre lobby from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The contest features pictures taken by students while on international co-op work terms this year. The photos are on display in the Tatham Centre, and visitors can vote for their favourite picture in a number of different categories including International and U.S.A. The contest winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. today. The work of past winners, like Louisa von Waldberg's photo of Vevey, Switzerland, is featured on the contest website.


The International Research Showcase will feature 13 research centres showcasing their work with a special focus on international research and/or research being done with international partners. The showcase takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre's lower atrium.


Other IEW events today include:


  • "Working Effectively in Another Culture", 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., TC 2218
  • Ballroom Dance Try-It Session, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., PAC Studio 1
  • "Oh, the Places that You'll Go!" UWP Global Mixer, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Beck Hall Community Centre


Check the IEW calendar for a full description of the day's events.


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Agreement aims to improve health in the north

Earlier this month, the University of Waterloo and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) signed a Collaboration Agreement that will allow the two schools to work together towards improving health in Northern Ontario’s communities.

Both organizations share a commitment to expanding educational opportunities for students in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program to train in Northern Ontario. Students with a strong desire to pursue pharmacy practice in Northern communities will benefit from enhanced experiences while on their Northern co-op experiences during the first three years of the program. In addition, students in their final year of studies will undertake 24 weeks of patient care rotations that includes a variety of NOSM’s teaching sites. Starting in January 2015, selected Waterloo students will complete their last term of studies in Northern Ontario at one of three regional sites – Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, or Thunder Bay.

The agreement between the University of Waterloo and NOSM introduces a number of additional areas of potential collaboration, including new interprofessional learning experiences and continuing professional development opportunities in Northern Ontario. Faculty from the two schools will also explore collaborative research initiatives related to improving the health of Northern populations.

“We believe that the partnership with NOSM will provide pharmacy students from the University of Waterloo with expanded opportunities for interprofessional education and experiential learning,” says David Edwards, Hallman Director, School of Pharmacy and Associate Dean, Faculty of Science. “This will help us to produce outstanding health care professionals who are able to meet the unique needs of patients in Northern and rural Ontario.”

“We are excited that as a result of this collaboration these pharmacy students will experience the rewarding opportunities that come from living, working, and learning in Northern Ontario,” said Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean. “Our hope is that one day they will join the dedicated health professionals already delivering exceptional care across the North.”


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Startup takes baby steps to million-dollar prize

by Eugenia Xenos Anderson.

St. Paul’s GreenHouse innovator Alisha Karmali and her team at BabySteps Academy have won the first round of the coveted Hult Prize and will represent the University of Waterloo at the regional level next March, competing against universities and teams from around the world.


The 2015 Hult Prize comes with US $1 million in startup funding, and each regional champion will get to spend the summer inside of the Hult Prize Accelerator, an innovative incubator for social enterprises.


BabySteps Academy is made up of Alisha, a third-year Psychology and Business student, Fardeen Khan, a third-year Nanotechnology Engineering student, Shafaq Zakir, who’s studying Economics and Finance, Katerina Szkolka in Psychology, and Osama Sidat in Computer Science. The team’s goal is to provide quality early childhood education to children under 6 years old in urban slums and create job opportunities for women. Pictured above are (l to r) Shafaq Zakir, Alisha Karmali, Fardeen Khan, and Katerina Szkolka.


"I became a GreenHouse innovator merely 3 months ago and the inspiration and support I have received in this short amount of time is astonishing,” said Alisha. “My mentors at St. Paul’s GreenHouse have been very proactive in assisting me with my research and guiding me through the steps of building a startup.”


Alisha’s startup is also a finalist for the St. Paul’s GreenHouse $5,000 Social Innovation Fund. The recipients will be announced at a Social Innovation Showcase on December 3 in Alumni Hall at St. Paul’s.


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Link of the day

Happy 90th, Mandelbrot!

When and where

International Education Week, Sunday, November 16 to Saturday, November 22, various locations on campus.

UWSA Craft Sale, Wednesday, November 19 and Thursday, November 20, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., SLC multipurpose room. Details.

An Interactive Conversation with BlackBerry CEO John Chen, Thursday, November 20, 10:30 a.m., Sedra Student Design Centre. Details.

The Water Institute Lecture Series featuring Nigel Watson, Lancaster Environment Centre, UK, “Learning at Loweswater: An experiment in interdisciplinary water science and collaborative catchment management,” Thursday, November 20, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302. Details.

Women in Computer Science Public Lecture featuring Sarah Sharp, Intel Open Source Technology Center, on "Breaking into Open Source and Linux: a USB 3.0 success story," Thursday, November 20, 5:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, ML. Tickets are free. Details.

CIGI Signature Lecture Series featuring François Crépeau, "Between Myths and Crisis: Rethinking Migration Policies," Thursday, November 20, 7:00 p.m., CIGI Campus Auditorium.

Centre for Bioengineering & Biotechnology (CBB) seminar, Tracey Weiler, Mitacs, “Connecting Universities with Private Sector Opportunities,” Thursday, November 20. Details.

Chemical Engineering Seminar featuring Sidney Omelon, assistant professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Ottawa, “Biochemical Control of Phosphate Mineral Saturation: A Proposal for Polyphosphates.” Friday, November 21, 11:30 a.m., E6-2024.

Quantitative Biology Seminar Series featuring Sue Anne Campbell, Department of Applied Mathematics, "Population density methods, the mean field approach and application to hippocampal microcircuity," Friday, November 21, 2:30 p.m., QNC 1501.

Knowledge Integration seminar, “From Elders to Youth: Learning the Inuit Way of Life”, featuring Andrew Wong, Friday, November 21, 2:30 p.m., EV3 1408. Details.

UW A Cappella Club presents Fall 2014 End of Term Concert featuring the Waterboys, ACE, the AcaBellas, the Unaccompanied Minors, and the Musical Interdudes, Friday, November 21 and Saturday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages. Details.

Talk Change 2014 conference, Saturday, November 22, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., RCH. Details.

Waterloo West Neighbourhood Fest, Saturday, November 22, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Harper Library/Stork YMCA. Details.

Celebrate the life of Alex Foto, Saturday, November 22, 6:00 p.m., St. Paul's Alumni Hall. Details.

Balinese Gamelan Music featuring the UW Gamelan Ensemble, Saturday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Part of International Education Week. Free admission.

Winter 2015 Drop/add period begins, Monday, November 24.

WatRISQ industry seminar featuring David Panko, Managing Director, Automated Execution Group, TD Securities, “Evolution of Canadian Equity Market Structure,” Monday, November 24, 1:00 p.m., DC 1304.

Waterloo Store Monster Event, Tuesday, November 25 and Wednesday, November 26, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., SCH Concourse.

CECA presents Successfully Negotiating Academic Job Offers, Tuesday, November 25, 10:30 a.m., TC 1208. Details.

WIN Nano Graduate Student Seminar Series, Tuesday, November 25, 12:30 p.m., QNC 1501. Details.

Post-Graduation Work Permit Online Application Workshop, Tuesday, November 25, 1:00 p.m., SCH 228F. Details.

Management Consulting as a Career Option, Tuesday, November 25, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., TC 2218. Details.

Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience colloquium featuring Ben Thompson, "Learning to See with a “Lazy Eye”; Harnessing Visual Cortex Plasticity to Treat Amblyopia," Tuesday, November 25, 2:00 p.m., PAS 2464. Details.

Public lecture: Radicalization and Security — What do we know? What do we need to know? Tuesday, November 25, 7:00 p.m., Kitchener Public Library. Details.

Interview Skills: Proving Your Skills, Wednesday, November 26, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., TC 1208. Details.

Why (Almost) Everything (You Think) You Know about Pornography is (Probably) Wrong, Wednesday, November 26, 3:30 p.m., HH 280. Details.

Ignite Waterloo 15, Wednesday, November 26, 6:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

Mennonite Writing Series reading by Miriam Toews, Wednesday, November 26, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University chapel. Details.

Velocity Fund Finals, Thursday, November 27.

Chemical Engineering Seminar featuring Antonio Flores-Tlacuahuac, professor, Department of Engineering and Chemical Sciences, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico, “Optimal Molecular Design of Ionic Liquids for CO2 Capture,” Thursday, November 27, 3:30 p.m., E6 2024.

Biomedical Discussion Group Lecture featuring Dr. Shawn Whitehead, Anatomy and Cell Biology Departments, Clinical Neurological Sciences, Western University, “Imaging Lipids in the Vulnerable Brain.” Thursday, November 27. Details.


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