Top Ten

April 26, 2017

“Most Canadians do not know enough to know what they don’t know” on Indigenous issues

“Amid celebrations, a vigorous debate has erupted over the gap between the Canadian federal government’s promises to Indigenous peoples and what might charitably be termed the muted delivery on those promises,” write the University of Alberta’s Tracy Bear and Chris Andersen for the Globe and Mail. The authors highlight a number of examples to illustrate what they argue is a continuing ignorance and historical inaccuracy that still shapes many Canadians’ understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures. “Part of the issue,” they add, “is that most Canadians do not know enough to know what they don’t know.” The authors conclude that “[w]ithout a concerted effort on the part of all Canadians, the old adage that ‘failing to learn from the past ensures its inevitable repetition in the future’ is not just a foreseeable reality but a certainty.” Globe and Mail

Canadian colleges, companies to collaborate with support from $7M federal investment

The Government of Canada has announced that it will invest more than $7M for six projects at six colleges across the country. Disbursed through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s College-Industry Innovation Fund, the investment will support projects at Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe, Cégep de Trois-Rivières, Cégep de Victoriaville, Collège Shawinigan, Lambton College, and SAIT Polytechnic. A federal release notes that the funded projects will allow colleges to provide research expertise to companies working in fields such as energy, agriculture, and new material design. “This generous investment allows us to continue to provide distinctive programming, applied research opportunities, community and industry engagement initiatives at Lambton College,” said Lambton CEO Judith Morris. “More importantly, it means our graduates will continue to meet and exceed the expectations of industry employers.” CICan | CFI

How to improve classroom engagement when 92% of your students are texting

“Without question, a major classroom challenge facing today’s educators is getting their students to put down their phones and pick up their level of engagement,” writes J Mark McFadden for Inside Higher Ed. The author cites research stating that 95% of American PSE students bring their phones to class every day, while 92% use their phones to text during class. Another 10% of students say that they have used their phones to text during an exam on at least one occasion. To address this issue, McFadden writes that he has “come to the conclusion that engaging my students is best accomplished by making them feel a bit anxious while keeping them in relatively close proximity to their comfort zone.” To accomplish this, the author outlines a series of techniques that include rearranging students’ chairs, giving pop oral reports on assigned readings, and pairing students who are “exceedingly different from each other” when assigning collaborative projects. Inside Higher Ed

USask College of Pharmacy receives $1.6M donation in renewed industry partnership

The College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan recently received the largest gift in its history through a renewed partnership with Apotex Inc. The $1.6M gift will be disbursed over eight years and will help create the Apotex Pharmacy Professional Practice Centre, where students work in real-life pharmacy settings to learn to counsel patients and work as a team. “We are very grateful for this new investment, and to President Desai and his colleagues for their continued support and belief in the research and community practice initiatives within the college,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Kishor Wasan. “This funding is a game changer for us and will help the college continue to be one of the best programs in the country.” USask

We need a unique identifier to track ON students’ progress: HEQCO experts

“There are all manner of administrative data collected within the Ontario school system and within its higher education system that can reveal important stories about where barriers exist and how they can be eliminated, what works and what doesn’t,” write Fiona Deller and Martin Hicks for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. One key way to use this data to its full potential, the authors add, is to implement the Ontario Education Number, a unique identifier that tracks learners’ educational progress so that governments and policy makers can make decisions that serve students best. “We all want more equitable access for Ontario’s youth,” the authors conclude, “[but] how on earth will we know how far away we are from reaching that goal and whether anything we are doing is affecting that course unless we know more about Ontario students?” HEQCO

MUN opens discussion between administration, faculty, students on budget challenges

“The debate over how Memorial University should deal with a shrinking pot of money from the provincial government appears to have divided academic leaders and students,” writes Terry Roberts for CBC. Roberts reports on a special session of MUN’s senate that was hosted earlier this week, in which deans and other faculty reportedly supported a proposal to increase tuition and implement new fees, while student representatives said such moves would compromise the school’s ability to attract students from outside the province. Some of the options presented by university leaders reportedly included $3M in salary cuts. Yet the school has also expressed interest in new ways of generating revenue, reports Roberts, which includes consideration of a 16.3% general increase in tuition, with a full rebate for Newfoundland and Labrador students. CBC

If academia won’t structure your time, do it yourself: UA contributor

Structuring one’s time “may well be the single most important predictor of well-being in academia,” writes Bran Æon for University Affairs. The author highlights three key ways in which lack of time structure can negatively impact a person's mental wellbeing. To begin, the lack of such structure introduces an uncertainty into daily life that can increase anxiety. Second, people are more likely to overwork to the point of exhaustion if they do not create time-specific boundaries around their workday. Third, lack of time structure can badly disrupt one's social life. “Treat your own schedule as if it were externally imposed,” Æon concludes, “if your organization doesn’t structure your time, then do it yourself.” University Affairs

Loyalist students to access specialized software, new lab equipment with $1.4M in ON support

Loyalist College will invest in new technology, equipment, and learning spaces with support from $1.4M in new funding from the Ontario government. Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi has stated that the funding will provide students with access to state-of-the-art materials, including specialized software for teaching, new lab and shop equipment, and technology to modernize classrooms and labs. $950K will reportedly be used to support the Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction Laboratory, while another $450K will help expand facilities and equipment to improve the quality of healthcare training. “This is going to mean an awful lot to Loyalist College,” said Loyalist President Anne Marie Vaughan. “We are going to use it to improve student learning particularly in our health sciences and justice, but also in the applied research area.”

Naylor report’s funding recommendations offer “litmus test” for federal science policy: Creso Sá

The Canadian government will likely meet with little opposition if it moves to rationalize its scientific funding system, writes Creso Sá for Times Higher Education, but its biggest litmus test will be “how they respond to … recommendations that require financial commitments and meaningful changes to how funds are allocated.” Sá highlights several key findings from the report, which the author says “pulls no punches” in its analysis of federal research funding. “On the one hand,” Sá adds, “the report will put to the test the ability and willingness of the Liberals to overhaul research support with detailed funding recommendations to address existing inadequacies. On the other, it provides some low-hanging fruit to the government, with commonsensical and relatively cheap measures to improve policy coordination.” Times Higher Education

Who benefits from the 8 AM start time?

In light of new research suggesting that courses should start later in the morning, John Warner reflects on years of teaching an 8 AM class and discusses which groups are hindered or benefited by early class times. Warner explains that “the problem with 8am classes isn’t so much about the hour itself as the priorities and values that dominate course scheduling,” which he defines as being seniority in class selection and the maximization of resources at institutions. However, the author notes that the schedule must take into account the schedules and needs of those who are learning. “When I heard the words “college student,” I’m as guilty of anyone of assuming 18-22 years old, single, primarily focused on school,” writes Warner. “But most institutions, particularly public ones, serve a far more diverse group. Every so often, maybe we can pause and ask them what they need.” Inside Higher Ed