Top Ten

November 14, 2014

UBC opens new Centre for Gambling Research

UBC officially opened its Centre for Gambling Research on Wednesday, reportedly one of just a small number of such research hubs in the world. The Centre will focus on helping problem gamblers as well as on gambling policy. It will include a “casino lab,” to be used to measure gamblers’ physiological responses to slot machines and other games; through a partnership with the UBC MRI Research Centre, researchers will study heart rates and brain responses of research subjects. The lab will help researchers identify motivations and mindsets that may be linked to problem gambling. The Centre’s Director, Luke Clark, said, “this facility will transform gambling research in British Columbia. Our work will help us better understand the psychology of gambling games and problem gambling, which will bolster UBC’s strengths in addictions research and ultimately result in healthier communities.” The Centre was made possible by $2 M in funding from the province and the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC); it will operate completely independently from the BCLC. UBC News Release

Former uRegina student alleges prof plagiarized his work

A professor at the University of Regina has been accused of plagiarizing the work of a former student. Arjun Paul alleges that an article published in the journal Environmental Geotechnics by professor Shahid Azam includes significant material from his master’s thesis. The journal has withdrawn the paper after finding that it “had not fully credited Arjun Paul’s thesis,” but said that “this case fell into a grey area of not being a breach of copyright or direct plagiarism but being one of poor judgment.” Azam admitted that he failed to properly cite an article that he and Paul wrote together, but refuted the charge of plagiarism. Azam said that his work looks similar because he wrote significant portions of Paul’s thesis. “None of the alleged material in the disputed paper reflected Paul’s original writing, ideas, or thoughts because he was heavily dependent on me” in key areas, Azam told the CBC. This claim has led some to question why Azam was willing to grant Paul his degree. In response, Azam said, “What is the other alternative? Fail him? And send him back? So now you lose a trainee.” He added that there wassufficient value in Paul's research to earn the degree, and emphasized that the thesis is just part of the evaluation process. CBC

Academica Group research examines benefits of work-integrated learning

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has published a report covering the third and final phase of a multi-year study of work-integrated learning (WIL). The research, conducted by Academica Group, found that not all students benefited equally from WIL participation: arts and humanities and social sciences university graduates reported the lowest levels of WIL participation, and those who did participate experienced fewer benefits as a result. WIL was not found to have a significant impact on time to employment, but WIL participants were more likely to have a new job in place before finishing school than non-WIL students, who were more likely to continue working in a position they already held. Both college and university WIL participants were more likely to feel that they were appropriately qualified for their job, that their job was related to their long-term career goals, and that their job was related to their studies. University graduates in business, science and engineering, and health sciences and social services programs saw an earnings premium over non-WIL participants; however, social sciences and arts and humanities university graduates did not. Academica suggests that further research is needed to help ensure that students in all academic programs experience the benefits of WIL, as well as to identify the longer-term benefits of participation. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

uToronto joins with private partners in "open source" neuroscience collaboration

The University of Toronto will collaborate with private partners Janssen Inc and the Johnson and Johnson Innovation Center in California on a new neuroscience initiative. The Neuroscience Catalyst, launched November 6, will foster open-source research in order to develop therapies for mood disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. “Mood disorders and Alzheimer’s disease are chronic illnesses that affect millions of people worldwide. By 2040, these debilitating brain diseases could surpass cancer as the second-leading cause of death. Finding solutions that bring relief to those who face these ailments, and the family and friends who care for them, are what makes this partnership so important,” said Catherine Whiteside, VP of Relations with Health Care Institutions at uToronto. Ruth Ross, inaugural Director of the Catalyst, believes that the open partnership could provide a model for future consortia. uToronto News

Fanshawe's new reputation campaign to focus on campus stories

Fanshawe College has launched its first-ever reputation campaign, entitled “Your Story.” The campaign will share the stories of Fanshawe students and employees on a new website, and will roll out across media including print, cinema, billboards, bus shelters, and digital formats over the coming months. “Everyone has an interesting and heroic story to tell, whether it’s overcoming challenges, doing something they never thought possible, or helping others succeed. Stories are a powerful medium because they capture our attention, tap into our emotions, and ultimately drive our behaviour. We want to harness that power to get students thinking about Fanshawe,” said Tony Frost, Fanshawe’s Executive Director of Reputation and Brand Management. Frost notes that the new campaign marks a significant shift in Fanshawe’s marketing strategy away from a focus on specific programs or schools. “Now, the conversation begins with the College as a whole—sharing compelling stories of how Fanshawe educates, engages, empowers, and excites in everything we do.” Fanshawe New Release | Your Story Website

Royal Roads to offer virtual tours of campus, classes

Victoria’s Royal Roads University will offer prospective students a new way to tour campus. As part of its Future View campaign, Royal Roads will enable people to tour the campus grounds and experience what a lecture would be like through the eyes of a current student. “We wanted to give people a sense of what we actually do here at Royal Roads and it’s really hard to talk about experiential education in a print ad or even to get people to understand how beautiful the campus is,” said Royal Roads’ Director of Marketing Catherine Riggins. The university gave Google Glass and GoPro cameras to representatives who will stream across the Internet what they see, hear, and do. Between November 18 and 21, representatives will attend lectures, go on walking tours, and hold question-and-answer sessions with professors. The videos will be broadcast live and archived on Royal Roads’ YouTube channel. Riggins said that should the campaign go viral, it could have significant international reach. “I hope this will give prospects a glimpse into what we do, and I hope it gives them a sense of how we are different from a traditional university,” she said. Times-Colonist

Op-ed argues that bureaucracy bigger problem in PSE than lack of mandatory retirement

In an op-ed for University Affairs, Queen’s University Professor Emeritus Michael Baird argues that blaming a lack of full-time faculty positions on senior professors who will not retire is misguided. Baird notes that even in the absence of mandatory retirement, most faculty continue to retire by age 65; moreover, just 1% of faculty are in their 70s. Instead, he says, “our real problem lies not in aging faculty but in burgeoning university bureaucracies.” Baird says that at Queen’s, the number of faculty has decreased by 5.4% over the last 4 years, a period in which full-time undergraduate levels have climbed by 14.9%, government operating grants by 10.5%, and staff by 10.9%. He adds that, at Queen’s, there is one Dean for every 29 faculty members, and one Director for every 7.5 faculty members. Baird notes that these employees do not contribute to the main function of the university, namely teaching, but that the growth in the number of these employees is rarely noted in mainstream coverage of the perceived decline in the quality of education. “The imbalance in hiring policies in the Canadian university system … is arguably the real problem that Canadian academics of all ages and ranks should be addressing,” he concludes. University Affairs

Centennial study explores teens' desire for "#Instafame"

A new study from Centennial College examines the lengths to which some young people will go to attract attention online, but cautions that many do so without being aware of the possible repercussions. The study of mostly North American Internet users aged 13 to 18 found that many teens, male and female, willingly give up their online privacy and post provocative photos to emulate stars like Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus. Some of these so-called “#Instafamers”—who may have thousands of followers—have even successfully monetized their online presence by selling endorsements or ad space. Debbie Gordon, Director of Centennial’s Kids Research Centre, said that most teens are using social media responsibly, but those who do not leave themselves vulnerable to bullying, exploitation, or predatory behaviour. “We’re not saying that these tools and platforms are evil or dangerous—they’re not. We just want kids to be thinking about … what kind of messages they’re saying,” Gordon said. Gordon said that the study demonstrates the need for mentoring and parental involvement in young people’s online activities. The results of the research have been compiled in an online resource. Centennial News Release | Toronto Star | #Instafame Web Site

New StatsCan figures show signs of growth in youth job market

New data from Statistics Canada indicates that Canadian young people are on pace for the biggest annual job increase in more than 10 years. Employment for Canadians aged 15–24 increased by a combined 47,400 in September and October, the second-highest 2-month total since 2006. Youth jobs made up 40% of the 117,200 net new jobs over that period, and have accounted for 71,000 of 201,000 new jobs in 2014. Nevertheless, the participation rate in the youth market fell from 65.2% in September to 64.7% in October; moreover, full-time employment fell by 0.4% as part-time employment rose 3.8%. Still, some economists are optimistic after seeing the figures. Youth are “definitely getting out of the basement. When you create 100,000 jobs in 2 months you use up some slack. As demand increases you’ll start to absorb these less skilled workers,” said John Clinkard, Chief Economist at Deutsche Bank Canada. Financial Post | StatsCan Daily  

OECD urges development of high quality vocational training

A new report on vocational education and training (VET) programs has been published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD’s Skills Beyond School report suggests that countries should improve the quality of postsecondary vocational training to better meet the needs of the labour market. The OECD notes that vocational training presents particular challenges to the PSE sector, particularly with regard to a variable nomenclature and a lack of clarity around qualifications. The OECD recommends nations adopt a uniform international nomenclature around vocational training, develop a strong institutional base for vocational training that is supported by consistent public funding, and coordinate with employers and organized labour to ensure that programs and qualifications are comprehensible and accessible to key stakeholders. The report makes a number of specific recommendations and cites 3 key elements of quality for such programs: the inclusion of work-based learning programs; the involvement of mid-career professionals with industry experience, academic knowledge, and pedagogical skills in training; and assessment and development of basic skills in literacy and numeracy. Notably, the report says that Canada is out-performing other OECD nations in the percentage of adults aged 20–45 who have short-cycle postsecondary vocational education and training as their highest qualification. OECD News Release | Full Report