Top Ten

July 6, 2010

uWaterloo research income exceeds $169 million

In 2009-10, academic research income at the University of Waterloo totalled $169.5 million, representing a more than 17% increase compared to last year and an annual research funding amount that has doubled since 2001. With NSERC discovery grants, uWaterloo has had 73.1% success compared to the national average of 57.8%, and has had 48.4% success with SSHRC strategic grants compared to the national average of 22.7%. Federal tri-council funding accounted for 25% of uWaterloo's total research funding for the year, with the remainder coming from the federal government excluding the councils (24%), the Ontario government (23%), other (17%), and industry (11%). Recent research success includes $20 million for 2 Canada Excellence Research Chairs. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

ACC, RRC workers to vote on offer

Red River College and Assiniboine Community College have responded with a settlement offer after employees approved a strike mandate in a vote last month. Since the vote, the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union's bargaining committee met 4 times with the employer through conciliation, with deliberations resulting in considerable improvements in several key areas, the union says. The offer will be presented to employees at ratification meetings this week. Mail-in ballots, along with details of the proposed settlement, are being distributed to approximately 1,600 union members. NUPGE News

Ryerson master plan wins architecture award

Ryerson University's master plan has picked up an American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2010 Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design, the only Canadian project to win an AIA Honor Award this year. Ryerson's vice-president of administration and finance says the award is "a strong endorsement" of the approach taken to the plan. According to jury comments, "this plan is a decidedly 21st Century response to co-development, including funding and potential integrations of uses within a tight timeframe. It has an interesting, creative use of verticality while giving (Toronto) clearly articulated and much needed open space." Daily Commercial News | American Institute of Architects

Research cottage moves into McMaster Innovation Park

A cottage to be used for testing solar technology made its way to McMaster Innovation Park last week. The wooden structure, donated by VELUX Canada, a skylight manufacturer, will be used by McMaster University engineering researchers to test a unique translucent solar skylight that can help control interior building temperature and produce electricity while still allowing natural light to shine through. While solar skylight testing is one of the primary research projects that will use the cottage, the building is available to other researchers at McMaster and in the community. McMaster Daily News

Changes to census threaten research, say critics

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is one of several organizations urging the Conservative government to reconsider its decision to replace the mandatory long form census with a shorter voluntary survey. As the organization representing Canada's academic research community, CAUT is "deeply concerned about the disastrous consequences this will have for the scientific understanding of Canadian society, and for the ability to make informed decisions about social and economic policies," says executive director James Turk. CAUT has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to meet with some eminent researchers to discuss why this decision must be reversed. CAUT News | Read the letter to the PM | North Bay Nugget

Loyalist College partners with Ottawa to recruit civil servants through Second Life

In September, the Public Service Commission of Canada will open an island on Second Life, an online universe, to recruit new people to join the country's rapidly aging ranks of civil servants. The project is being built in part by a design centre at Loyalist College, which maintains a second campus on Second Life. The Public Service Commission's island will have information booths and presentations on jobs, and will offer live interaction with current federal bureaucrats. Canadian Press

Langara launches redesigned homepage

Langara College recently unveiled a new-look homepage, with new and improved features to the page. The college's news and event listings have been moved to the homepage for increased visibility, with RSS feeds added. New features include quick links to the website's most popular pages, a box showcasing key highlights at the institution, and a live stream of social media updates from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Visitors to the site are encouraged to provide feedback on the updated homepage. Langara website

Why Canadian teens are so happy

New data from Statistics Canada shows that teenagers are the happiest people in Canada -- and they're getting happier. 96% of Canadians aged 12 to 19 who took part in the Canadian Community Health Survey reported they were highly satisfied with life in 2009, compared to 94% of teens who reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their lives in 2008. So why are teens increasingly happier? University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby offers 3 key reasons: Baby Boomer and Generation X parents have put a ton of resources into their kids; youth are a high priority in North American society, where school and youth-based institutions have never been better prepared or funded; and the combination of more freedom of choice and a wealth of technological resources. Describing today's teens as "cosmopolitan," University of Calgary education professor Yvonne Hebert says the tolerance and respect average teens feel for one another contributes contribute to teens' general well-being. Calgary Herald

Video instruction may slightly hurt student performance, study finds

A working paper released last month by the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research found that students who watched lectures online instead of attending classes in person performed slightly worse in the course overall. The study contradicts a previous analysis by the US Department of Education that favoured online learning over purely in-person instruction, showing that live instruction benefits Hispanic students, male students, and lower-achieving students in particular. More research will be needed before any definite conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of video lectures, says a graduate student who worked on the project. Since microeconomics was the course evaluated in the study, future research could s tudy the effectiveness of video instruction for other topics, the student says. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

To catch a cheat

With the temptation of students to cheat having gone high-tech, educators in the US have responded with their own efforts to crack down on cheating. At the testing centre of the University of Central Florida, the computers students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to take a picture of the screen, in order to help a friend taking the test later, is easy to spot. Upon seeing something suspicious, a proctor will record the student's real-time work at the computer and direct an overhead camera to zoom in to gather evidence of cheating. According to the Campus Computing Survey, 55% of institutions use an anti-plagiarism service that requires students to submit papers to be vetted for copying. Some educators have rejected anti-cheating technologies in that they presume students are guilty, undermining the trust professors seek with students. New York Times