Top Ten

June 29, 2017

OPSEU applies to represent ON college part-time, sessional faculty

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which currently represents all full-time faculty and support staff at ON community colleges, has filed an application to also become the bargaining agent for faculty members who teach part time or as sessionals at the colleges. “With this application, we are taking a big step towards ending the exploitation of part-time, contract faculty in the colleges,” said OPSEU President Warren Thomas. “These highly-qualified workers deliver recognized credit courses at wages and working conditions that are absolutely inferior to the negotiated rate.” The union has asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to order a province-wide supervised vote in mid-July. Newswire

USask passes $16.7M deficit budget, cuts salaries, offers buyouts

In light of a reduction in provincial funding, the StarPhoenix writes that the University of Saskatchewan will run a $16.7M deficit budget this year and will be cutting the salaries, benefits and bonuses of 75 senior leaders in order to attempt to manage its financial situation. The article reports that buyouts have been offered to many staff, and that layoffs may be a possibility in the future. CBC adds that USask’s tuition will not be changed for the upcoming school year. "We have drawn on our reserves to manage previous budget pressures, so our reserves have been significantly reduced and, as we have always said, this is not a sustainable solution,” stated an institutional release. “Our reserves are now at levels that fall below best practice and are no longer a viable option to manage reductions in funding of this magnitude.” CBC | StarPhoenix

City of Montreal teams up with postsecondary institutions

The leaders of multiple postsecondary education institutions have co-signed a historic partnership agreement with the City of Montreal that will see the parties engage in collaboration and the development of an office of higher education in the city. The agreement will see the city support higher education institutions in infrastructure projects, research, and government representation; and improve Montreal’s innovation ecosystem, utilisation of intellectual property, and fostering of research-based companies. In turn, the institutions will encourage professors and research groups to collaborate with the city on municipal issues; develop a brand and marketing strategy that portrays the city as a city of knowledge, culture, and innovation; and participate in development missions led by the mayor. Montréal

Future of CNA Baie Verte campus raises concerns, hopes with locals

Baie Verte Mayor Clar Brown has expressed concern about the future of the College of the North Atlantic campus located in town, given recent announcements related to programming that will see the college only offer a industrial mechanic millwright program this year. However, The Telegram also reported that the local campus may be considered as a location for a centre of excellence for mining, pending a feasibility study. “I think we deserve it because Baie Verte is a big mining area and there are all kinds of people coming from different universities in the eastern seaboard and across Canada to come here and study,” said Brown. “If they had a facility they could actually focus in, it would be advantageous for Baie Verte.” The Telegram | The Nor'wester

Calgary tower developer aims to meet student-housing demand

A Toronto-based developer has applied to transform a site in Calgary into a 28-storey residence, primarily for undergraduate housing, and hopes to break ground by the end of the year. The tower would add 500 beds to the apartment rental pool in Calgary. The buildings would feature a fitness centre, social spaces, gaming tables, study areas, laundry, and parking for bikes and cars. “For some students, being in a student ghetto is a right of passage they want to go through but, at the same time, many do not,” said Campus Suites President Henry Morton. “A lot of these old houses are not code compliant; they’re badly wired, they don’t have windows that open, and often that’s worrying for parents.” Morton further pointed to international students as contributing to the demand for quality living spaces. Globe and Mail

Dal medical school screens personality traits of prospective doctors

Dalhousie University’s medical school has reviewed its admissions process and begun screening prospective students for character traits such as empathy and integrity. CBC reports that the change follows a number of high-profile legal cases concerning medical students, though Dal spokesperson Janet Bryson did not state that this was the reason for the change. Dal is now using the Computerized Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics, which is reportedly also used at institutions such as McMaster University and the University of Ottawa. “Med students are expected to adhere to a code of conduct, and their fitness for the study and practice of medicine is continuously evaluated,” said Bryson. “The interviews are designed to assess candidates' personal qualities, like critical thinking, awareness of societal health issues, communication skills and ethics.” CBC

MRU students to use preferred first names on classroom lists, school records

Mount Royal University has announced that its students will now have their preferred first name appear in all of the school’s systems and services. Students’ preferred first names will now appear in official records such as class lists, MRU email accounts, and student ID cards. However, some paper-based legal records will still require a legal name. “We must recognize our students for who they are. Many of our students identify themselves in a way that differs from their legal name,” said Phil Warsaba, Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Management and Registrar at Mount Royal University. “Giving students the right to choose and use a preferred first name increases a sense of belonging within our campus community.”MRU | Metro

Timekeeping in the classroom: teaching students to manage their own time

In reflecting on research on how social hierarchies in the classroom and how these impact classroom discussion, Danica Savonick explains how to use timekeeping in the classroom. “By timekeeping,” writes Savonick, “I simply mean deliberately structuring how much of a given amount of time is allotted to different tasks, communicating this information to participants, helping participants prepare to work within these time constraints, helping them stay on time in the moment and encouraging an awareness of time constraints in others.” To this end, Savonick discusses teaching students how to be aware of time constraints and better manage their time when presenting ideas and materials to the class. Inside Higher Ed 

UPEI new School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences to establish TD Student Learning Centre

The University of Prince Edward Island has reported that it will establish the TD Student Learning Centre, thanks to a $350,000 gift from TD Bank to UPEI’s new School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences. “Our industry partners like TD tell us that there is a tremendous need for employees with expertise in mathematical and computational sciences,” commented School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences Associate Dean Gordon MacDonald. UPEI states that the school “was created based on the growing need for university graduates to be educated in developing sophisticated mathematical and computational techniques aligned with market needs, managing and extracting knowledge from unprecedented volumes of data, and integrating methods with powerful analytical software and technology tools.” UPEI | CBC

Tips for developing defensible simulation-based assessments

With the importance of competency-based health care education and the frequency in which assessment methods changes, University of Toronto Assistant Professor Ryan Brydges lays out the importance of developing defensible simulation-based assessments. While realistic simulation scenarios are often praised, Brydges maintains that assessments must be validated and rigorously tested, and makes a number of recommendations around best practices when developing a quality simulation assessment. These include using a validity framework, clearly defining the construct that the assessment intends to measure, and conducting research on other validated assessments instead of working from scratch. Michener