Top Ten

June 9, 2015

uManitoba profs condemn former colleagues' op-ed on TRC report

More than 50 faculty members at the University of Manitoba have signed a letter condemning a National Post editorial written by two former colleagues about the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report. The editorial, by retired professors Rodney Clifton and Hymie Rubenstein, calls into question survivors’ testimony and charges that the TRC report contains "exaggerations" and "many half-truths" about residential schools. In their rebuttal, uManitoba professors Adam Muller, Adele Perry, and Andrew Woolford state that the editorial "ignores the substantial historical record" and that the authors of the editorial "echo the insensitivity and moral inattention the TRC is trying to address." Clifton defended the editorial, saying that he and Rubenstein "were just trying to point out that [the TRC] missed a whole bunch of things." Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

MPHEC releases data on student progression and mobility

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission has released new data on the persistence and graduation rates of more than 100,000 students who enrolled in a Maritime university directly from high school between 2001 and 2011. By linking data from all Maritime universities, the report is able to give a more accurate picture than previous studies. Looking at the cohort entering university in the fall of 2006 for example, 79% were still enrolled after one year, with 4% transferring to another Maritime university; within six years, 58% completed a degree at their first university and 5% completed at another Maritime university. MPHEC Release | Full Report

Shipbuilding project leads to high demand for trades training at NSCC

Students wishing to enrol in some trades programs at Nova Scotia Community College may have to wait as long as two years to begin their training. NSCC is currently experiencing an extremely high level of demand thanks to a federal shipbuilding project. NSCC is working with Irving Shipbuilding to prepare workers to tackle different phases of the project. "For example, they'll need people doing welding work earlier than they'll need electrical technicians, just in terms of how the shipbuilding goes," said NSCC VP Academics Rosalind Penfound. NSCC has also set up at Irving's request a six-week course for existing, returning, and new employees that Penfound describes as "Shipbuilding 101." CBC

Winnipeg family calls for more financial aid for deaf students

A family in Manitoba is calling on the province to provide better funding for deaf students' education after spending close to $50,000 for one year of university for their son. Rick and Kyra Zimmer sent their son Cody to attend Gallaudet University in Washington DC, reportedly the world’s only university exclusively for deaf students. The cost of tuition, dorm fees, and health insurance for one year was $56,000. However, provincial financial aid would only cover a maximum of $10,000, a figure based on the level of tuition that would be charged at a Manitoba university. The province used to fully fund deaf students who attended Gallaudet, but has reduced the amount of money available. The Zimmers say that attending a non-specialized university would be isolating and would negatively affect their son’s learning. CBC

BCIT School of Business receives initial ACBSP accreditation

The British Columbia Institute of Technology’s School of Business has been granted initial accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The accreditation includes a number of notes and conditions that must be met, and ACBSP will review BCIT programs every two years to ensure that the terms of the accreditation are being followed. "The accreditation process … served to validate BCIT’s unique model that focuses on industry alignment as a means of delivering high quality professional business education," said Robin Hemmingsen, Dean of the BCIT School of Business. The accreditation applies to more than 15 programs offered at BCIT. BCIT News Release

Institutions offer little incentive for grad students, faculty to focus on teaching

The drive to "publish or perish" could be inhibiting innovation in the classroom, according to an article published in the Globe and Mail. University of Calgary professor Mikael Hellstrom has implemented a flipped classroom; however, he says that he believes that a focus on pedagogy affected his search for a tenure-track jobs. Hellstrom says that hiring decisions typically emphasize publications, not classroom performance. "It is often assumed that capacity in research equals teaching capacity," he said. Some graduate students are even warned to avoid "the teaching trap," which they are told takes time away from more valuable research activities. While some institutions have created teaching-track faculty positions, others have been slow to offer any incentives for professors and graduate students to focus on pedagogy. Globe and Mail

Universities Canada Chair examines PSE's role in reconciliation

In an op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen, Universities Canada Chair and University of Manitoba President David Barnard outlines the role of Canada’s universities in working toward reconciliation. Barnard emphasizes the importance of creating opportunities for Indigenous students by working with K-12 educators on bridging programs; of educating all students on the history and legacy of residential schools; and of integrating Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and worldviews into curricula, programs, and services. Barnard also says that universities must fight against wrongs and untruths, as well as against social injustice and racism. Barnard says that Canada must act now to foster new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Ottawa Citizen

International institutions question support for Canadian studies in wake of cutbacks

Duke University is reportedly weighing whether or not it should continue to support Canadian Studies research. In 2014, the university turned its Center for Canadian Studies into the Council for North American Studies; now, the role of Canada in this new structure is also being questioned by administrators. The program had been supported by Canadian federal funding for Canadian Studies research abroad; however, the government ended the "Understanding Canada" program in 2012. Colin Coates, Director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, says that the lack of support from the Canadian government has caused host institutions like Duke to question their own commitment to funding Canadian Studies initiatives. Active History Blog

Study examines impact of in-class texting on learning outcomes

A new study by Jeffrey H Kuznekoff of Miami University in Ohio explores whether in-class texting and tweeting can be harnessed to improve learning outcomes. Previous studies have shown that distraction negatively impacts student performance; however, Kuznekoff argues that it is a "losing battle" to attempt to fight device usage. For the study, students were divided into three groups. The first received "relevant" distractions, the second received irrelevant distractions, and a control group was asked to put their phones away. The results show that the students dealing with relevant distractions performed nearly as well as the control group. "They’re still engaging with the content in some fashion, still mentally processing it," Kuznekoff said. Inside Higher Ed | Full Study

UNB Saint John librarian uncovers original Star Wars shooting script

It wasn't the document he was looking for, but University of New Brunswick Saint John librarian Kristian Brown certainly doesn't have a bad feeling about what he discovered in the institution's extensive science fiction collection: a long-forgotten original shooting script for the first Star Wars movie. Dated March 15, 1976—the year before the movie's theatrical release—this version of the script sheds light on the evolution of the saga. For instance, the protagonist is named Luke Starkiller rather than Luke Skywalker, and the script includes characters who never appeared on screen and scenes that may never have been shot. Brown confirmed that in the script he found, Han Solo shoots first. CBC