Top Ten

January 4, 2013

Dal women's hockey team forfeits season following hazing incident

Dalhousie University has suspended almost all of the members of its women's hockey team -- effectively forfeiting the rest of the season -- for participating in a hazing ritual at a house party last September. "There were cases of intimidation, excessive drinking, personal disrespect, humiliation -- in short, bullying," a Dal spokesman says. "It's a clear case of hazing and it's not something that we tolerate at Dalhousie." He says it was the first-year players who were hazed, so they were not suspended; however, 19 out of 24 players were, forcing the team to forfeit the remainder of the season. The suspended players will not face any academic punishment, the spokesman says. "What we're hoping next year is that everyone will have learned from this and that in the 2013-2014 season, we have a team that will be that much more welcoming of new players, where intimidation will be a thing of the past." Globe and Mail | Chronicle Herald | CBC | Canadian Press

Better labour market preparation, mobility part of Ontario Liberal leadership candidate's PSE platform

Ontario Liberal leadership hopeful Kathleen Wynne recently released her platform to make higher education more accessible and affordable. Wynne's commitments to improve PSE include the continuation of the province's tuition grant, sustainable and predictable funding that reflects the real needs across the sector, stimulus opportunities for graduate education, and greater flexibility and mobility through credit transfer opportunities and distance education programs. Better preparation for the labour market is also a key area for Wynne, who pledges to work with educators, colleges, business, and industry to expand student work placements, internships, and co-op programs. She also proposes creating a Premier's Youth Advisory Council, with representatives drawn from student groups, college and university bodies, Aboriginal youth organizations, and groups that represent youth entering the labour force. Kathleen Wynne News Release | Platform

New fund at McMaster aims to enhance graduate student experience

A new funding initiative from McMaster University's School of Graduate Studies will help graduate students develop new and innovative projects, engage individuals with different backgrounds, and foster a stronger graduate student experience. The Student-proposed Projects for Intellectual Community and Engaged Scholarship (SPICES) program provides funding for projects that will impact graduate student life at the institution and beyond traditional university boundaries. Each approved initiative will receive up to $5,000, and between 7 and 10 projects will be funded, depending on project budgets. SPICES will support new initiatives that challenge, engage, and stimulate intellectual communities at McMaster, and can be developed and delivered within 12 months of being awarded. SPICES is a pilot funding opportunity, and projects will not receive funding more than once. McMaster says funded activities should be standalone initiatives, or contribute to a more lasting or sustainable legacy. McMaster Daily News

"Elite" PhD model not reflective of today's doctoral students

Writing for the Globe and Mail, York University doctoral candidate Melonie Fullick notes the PhD model has traditionally been an "elite" one, which she has found to be built on outdated assumptions about the context of graduate education and the type of individual who pursues a PhD. There's the notion of students having available 4 to 6 years during which little or nothing else will be going on in their lives, and will be free from commitments that take time away from academic work. Fullick notes there are plenty of ways a student can get derailed: jobs; the absence of a supervisor; personal events; and financial issues. There's also a conflict between needing to complete the PhD, and needing to bolster one's resumé in order to compete in the academic labour market where positions are scarce compared to the number of PhD graduates seeking work, writes Fullick, adding that establishing a professional profile is crucial for future academics and researchers. "Students need support to prepare for various career paths, not only for faculty work -- but opportunities for this are still very uneven," she writes. "Above all, they need to finish their degrees, which means finding a compromise between exploration and focus, and enough support to make informed decisions and overcome the various obstacles that might arise in the process." Globe and Mail

First-year enrolment rises at Cambrian

Cambrian College reports that enrolment among first-year students rose by 4% in fall 2012, which accounted for the strongest student growth in the Sudbury-based institution's history. Many of Cambrian's full-time programs experienced significant growth, among them Mining Engineering Technician (100%), Graphic Design (83%), and Public Relations (80%). Many of the college's health sciences programs are operating at full capacity, and enrolment in apprenticeship programs is up by 70%. A Cambrian official says the institution is hiring more faculty members to meet the extra demand. Cambrian News Release | Sudbury Star

TRU World's Facebook page garners more than 100,000 likes

Thompson Rivers University announced last month that the Facebook page for its international division achieved 100,000 likes -- a first for a Canadian educational institution. The majority of the fans of the TRU World Facebook page are students overseas. The top nations represented on the page are Indonesia (16,300 fans), India (16,000), Colombia (11,600), Turkey (11,200), and the Philippines (10,700). Students have reported they are finding roommates and making friends online before arriving in Canada. TRU World launched its social media campaign in November 2011 in India in conjunction with the opening of its office in Bangalore. TRU News | Kamloops Daily News | TRU World Facebook page

Youth employment remains unchanged in December

Employment among 15- to 24-year-old Canadians was unchanged last month, and similar to that of 12 months prior, reports Statistics Canada. The unemployment rate for youth has hovered around 14% for the past 2 years and was 14.1% in December. 15- to 24-year-olds in PEI made the most gains last month with a 2.3 percentage point increase in their employment rate, and Manitoba recorded the highest youth employment rate, which sits at 62.9%. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

Study questions reliability of tests to assess college learning

A new study by 3 researchers at the Educational Testing Service observes that motivation is a clear predictor of student performance on tests of learning outcomes, and can skew a PSE institution's average value-added score. Researchers gave the ETS Proficiency Profile to 757 students from 3 institutions, randomly informing some participants that their scores might be released to faculty or to prospective employers to evaluate their academic ability. Those students performed "significantly and consistently" better than others, and reported a much higher level of motivation to take the exam seriously. Likewise, students with a personal stake in the exam showed higher gains in the test -- such that if their collective scores were being used to evaluate learning at their institution, the college would have appeared li ke it was teaching more effectively. "Accountability initiatives involving outcomes assessment should also take into account the effect of motivation when making decisions about an institution's instructional effectiveness." Inside Higher Ed

Study finds students' social networks can predict grades

New research from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests an analysis of PSE students' social networks can predict how well they perform in a course. Researchers examined the interactions between students to predict a student's mark before the final exam, as well as tracked login time and computer use for students who worked in groups. One of the study's authors says the research revealed a clear connection between students' social networks and their final mark. "One explanation for what we discovered is that your friends influence your grade in the course, so, if you pick your friends well, then you will get a higher grade," he says. "Alternatively, social networks in courses offer conditions whereby good students will pair with other good students, and similarly weaker ones will pair with weaker students." The co-author says researchers successfully predicted final grades to within a mean average error of 9.979. He says the research could be used to determine which students may need assistance in a course and which ones should consider a career in the subject area. BGU News Release | CTV

US colleges help students, alumni clean up their online profile

Syracuse University and Johns Hopkins University are among the US universities that offer free tools to help students polish their online presence, realizing ill-considered online pictures of drunken frat parties or prank videos can hinder graduates' job prospects - even if the pages are someone else's with the same name. It's a growing trend based on studies observing that most employers Google job candidates and nearly all of them won't bother to go beyond the first page of results. While online reputation repair tools don't remove the embarrassing material, they put the graduate's most flattering, professional profile up front. After initially supplying BrandYourself accounts to graduating students, Syracuse U struck a deal with the company last year to offer accounts to all of its students and alumni for free. About 25,000 individuals have access to it so far. "It's becoming more and more important for students to be aware of and able to manage their online presence, to be able to have strong, positive things come up on the Internet when someone seeks them out," says the director of Syracuse U's career services. Associated Press