Top Ten

June 2, 2016

UNB, uMoncton, NBCC, CCNB sign MOU for civil engineering students

The University of New Brunswick, Université de Moncton, New Brunswick Community College, and Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick have signed an MOU that will allow for enhanced credit transfer between the institutions for students of civil engineering. This MOU, the first of its kind in the province according to UNB, will create more pathways for students in civil engineering and provide these students with more opportunities for educational experiences. “One of our priorities is to offer flexible programming and increase accessibility to post-secondary education, which is why the CCNB is very pleased with the signing of this agreement,” said CCNB Vice President Academic and Student Development Brigitte Arsenault. UNB | NBCC

Western delays homecoming to discourage street party

Western University has announced that it will move this year’s homecoming celebrations in order to address concerns with a notorious street party on Broughdale Avenue. The unsanctioned event attracts as many as 10,000 young people, including high school students and people with reported “criminal histories.” Local police have said that the event is a “‘powder keg’ - that it is only a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ someone is killed or seriously injured.” “As Western’s president and as a parent, my greatest concern is the safety of our students,” said Western President Amit Chakma, who later added that “moving Homecoming is only one of the means by which we will be encouraging students to find safer forms of entertainment.” Western | National Post

PhD grad scolded by judge for invoking “pseudological tactics” to avoid loan repayment

A representative of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has admonished a PhD graduate from the University of Guelph for using “pseudological tactics” to “frustrate the administration of justice,” reports the Montreal Gazette. UoGuelph PhD alumnus Angela Greter had reportedly not repaid any of the $64 K in loans provided to her by Alberta three years following graduation. Being unable to afford a lawyer, Greter researched her case on the internet and demanded that the province give evidence that it was still the “current holder of the … original debt” in addition to official documentation. The province sued Greter for repayment of the loans, and in a May 24 decision, Court of Queen’s Bench Master in Chambers Sandra Schulz condemned Greter for using “absurd” legal arguments to seek to evade repaying her loans. Greter reportedly has not ruled out an appeal. Montreal Gazette

Key personality traits of a good teacher

When we talk about who our “best teachers” were, we tend to think of those who had the biggest impact on our lives rather than the ones we liked most, writes Rob Jenkins for the Chronicle of Higher Education, yet a teacher’s personality has a profound impact on students and how they learn. Jenkins outlines some of the most important characteristics of a great teacher’s personality, which include being professional but not aloof, demanding but not unkind, and “tremendously creative.” “We may never be as funny, approachable, or creative as our favorite teachers,” Jenkins concludes, “but simply by recognizing those traits as desirable, by acknowledging that we don’t possess them to the degree we would like … we can become more approachable, creative, and, yes, funnier than we would be otherwise. It’s the journey of self-improvement that makes the difference.” Chronicle of Higher Education

Understanding the “six Cs” of motivation is key to online learning

“Motivation is not like having a size 8 foot,” writes Michelle Pacansky-Brock for EdSurge. “It’s not a fixed trait that some humans either have or don’t have.” The author argues that when designing an online course, it is essential to consider the six Cs of motivation, which are choice, control, constructing meaning, challenge, collaboration, and consequences. Some stakeholders often make the mistake of thinking that students are either motivated or not, and this is where a clear understanding of the six Cs is key to boosting student motivation. Pacansky-Brock further concludes that a successful online course must understand the emotional or affective aspects of learning, which can so easily be lost in the temptation to use online teaching to simply transmit information. EdSurge

Laurentian implements new preferred name policy to support transgender students

Laurentian University has implemented a new system that will allow students to have their preferred name appear in all of the school’s communications, reports CBC. The change was reportedly implemented to support members of the transgender community who had not legally changed their names but wished not to use the name they were given at birth. “I went through a transition myself and I hadn't gotten my name legally changed yet,” says Laurentian student Victoria Lacroix said. “There was clear information that I was transgender, very easily available to students I was taking classes with. That was unnerving.” Laurentian Chief of Information Technology Luc Roy told CBC that the new system is fully automated, and students need only to receive approval and confirmation from the school’s registrar to use a preferred name in school communications. CBC

MB’s new government to maintain basic PSE operating grants

Manitoba’s new Progressive Conservative government has announced that it does not plan to make cuts to basic operating grants for education. But beyond that, writes the Winnipeg Free Press, “nothing is certain.” The PCs will reportedly maintain the 2.5% increase in operating grants for public postsecondary institutions established by the province’s former NDP government, although the additional 1.5% promised by former premier Greg Selinger for new programs devoted primarily to Indigenous and international students stands to be cancelled. The government has also stated that the University of Manitoba will have to demonstrate a clear return on investment to receive the $150 M promised to its capital campaign by Selinger last October. Winnipeg Free Press

NLC receives funding to train workers affected by economic slowdown

British Columbia has announced that it will provide Northern Lights College with $150 K to support training for workers who have been affected by a slowdown in production at a local pulp mill. The funding will also be used to provide additional training opportunities in other communities facing potential economic downturns in the province’s northeast. A Community Adjustment Team will work with NLC to determine what training and programming will best support future job opportunities for the affected workers. “Government is committed to helping former workers at the Chetwynd Mechanical Pulp Mill prepare for their future,” said MLA for Peace River South Mike Bernier. “Training will support not only the workers but the community and economy in the Northeast, which is why this funding is so important.” NLC | BC

Should institutions use “covered grades” for first-year students?

Faculty in some US colleges have begun issuing “covered” or “shadow” grades to first-year students to help protect these students from the discouragement that can often come from low grades. A “shadow grade,” writes Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed, is a grade that is shared privately with the student without appearing on a transcript. Yet some schools are voting down this practice, with professors insisting that “too often covered grades merely delay development of study skills and adaptation to college-level work … [and] negatively impact students who perform well as first-semester freshmen.” Proponents of covered grades, however, argue that worrying about first-year grades can prevent students “from taking the kinds of intellectual risks they’re supposed to in college—or at least from focusing on real understanding over rote learning.” Inside Higher Ed

Selkirk partners with Rwandan music school

Selkirk College has signed an agreement with Rwanda’s Ministry of Education with the aim of enhancing collaboration on musical education. The agreement specifically puts Selkirk in partnership with the Nyundo School of Music, and according to a Selkirk release, “will promote student and staff exchange, expertise on areas such as online training, joint field studies, internships, cultural tours, and more.” Reflecting on the partnership, Selkirk Instructor Gilles Parenteau noted that “there’s this concept that they need us. Well, that’s not the case because it is very much a two-way street … We have more gear and better classrooms, but the quality of their teaching … these students don’t need to go anywhere else.” Selkirk