Community-based teaching portal: Connecting people and ideas

Work on the development and implementation of the Community-Based Teaching Portal (CBTP) is aimed at helping multi-stakeholder community-based projects coordinate their work, manage, preserve and provide access to project data and disseminate their products of student learning and research to the community. The team is currently working with pilot groups to launch the online portal for their community-based projects in order to solicit feedback and assess the functionality of the portal, its associated tools and its ability to augment the project goals. This work was made possible by a Forward With Integrity grant.

Authors: Nancy Doubleday, Jason Brodeur, Susan Dudley, Dustin Garrick, Daniel Coleman, Joanne Kehoe, Judy Major-Girardin, Jim Quinn, Peter Self, Chad Harvey

Examining interdisciplinary perspectives to educate tomorrow’s teachers in Canadian higher education

Teaching philosophy statements have become a vital document that allow people to quickly know an individual’s beliefs about teaching and learning, along with their intended practices. This research project aims to assess the quality of teaching philosophy statements by looking for evidence of a deep learning/student focused approach to teaching as well as disciplinary differences. The sample comprises 80 statements written by graduate students from a range of disciplines participating in a 35-hour seminar on teaching and learning. Data analysis has evolved in three stages: (1) the development of a method for coding statements based on consensus; (2) the quantitative analysis of inter-rater and intra-rater reliability and ranking of statements based on one reliable factor; and (3) the qualitative emergence of categories and verification of exemplars. We are now at the verification stage and seeking explanations in the literature.

Authors: Arshad Ahmad, Janette Barrington, Erin Allard, John Maclachlan, Robert Cockcroft, Zafar Syed

The IMPACT project: An interdisciplinary educational initiative focused on community engagement project

The IMPACT Project co-leads teach students how to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the local Hamilton community through the design of assistive devices. Undergraduate and graduate students work collaboratively to help clients, who live with various challenges (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, stroke). This interdisciplinary project provides opportunities to apply knowledge and critical thinking skills learned in their respective curricula. The design teams enjoy partnering with students from other diverse faculties. Throughout the learning process, students develop skills in teamwork, interpersonal communication skills, and design as well as leadership and empathy.  This project drives student creativity, innovation and community engagement. This interdisciplinary exchange of ideas creates meaningful learning experiences for students that lead to positive community change.

Authors: Lovaye Kajiura, Robert Fleisig, Brenda Vrkljan, Janette Barrington, Arshad Ahmad

Global justice inquiry and the development of a global justice hub

In Winter 2014, the Arts & Science program offered a new, interdisciplinary inquiry course devoted to global justice for the first time. (See the course description here). This unique course, which involves students and faculty from across campus, alumni, and community partners, was developed by an interdisciplinary committee based on an initial idea by Arts & Science Program founding Director Herb Jenkins. Preliminary research, conducted by Beth Marquis & Vivian Tam, sought to explore effective means of teaching for global justice in undergraduate classes, and ultimately informed the design of this course. A subsequent research project aims to understand how enrolled students understand global justice and experience learning about it in the course through in depth, qualitative interviews and an assessment of student course work.

Relevant Publications:
Marquis, E. & Tam, V. (in press). Developing an interdisciplinary inquiry course on global justice: An inquiry-informed, cross-campus, collaborative approach. Accepted for inclusion in J.M. Carfora & P. Blessinger (eds.), Inquiry-Based Learning for Multidisciplinary Programs.

Authors: Beth Marquis, Abraham Redda, Vivian Tam, Louise Twells

Impact and perception of the new SCIENCE 1A03 course

The new SCIENCE 1A03 course piloted in Fall 2014 with over 140 students.  We will gather and analyze data surrounding the impact it may have on students’ intended undergraduate and career paths, and how everyone involved in the course – students, mentors, TAs, instructional coordinators, instructors – perceive the course.  The outcomes of this study will be extremely important as the course may become mandatory for all incoming Faculty of Science students.

Authors: Dr Robert Cockcroft, Devra Charney

Physics through different lenses* (1-18)

The vast majority of students entering the Faculty of Science enter, and remain in, the Life Sciences Gateway program.  What can other science departments, especially Physics and Astronomy, do to attract more students to their programs?  Do interdisciplinary programs, such as the Integrated Science Program (iSci), have a similar proportion of students who graduate with a Life Science-related degree?  As part of this study, we are 1) administering online surveys; collecting and analyzing results, 2) forming focus groups and conducting interviews, and 3) performing literature searches for similar research that may have been conducted at other institutions.

Authors: Dr Robert Cockcroft, Sabrina Kirby

Pedagogical uses of the Digital Humanities

The digital humanities, which take up and explore the intersections between technology and humanities fields, are a growing area of study. The extent to which digital humanities approaches can positively impact student learning, however, is less well understood. This project, which is still in its early stages, aims to begin to fill this gap by considering the potential pedagogical uses of a series of online databases connected to historical studies of film and performance. A team is currently working to review literature about the place of the digital humanities within undergraduate education, and to design and assess pedagogical interventions that make use of the databases described above. The group is also contributing to the further development and population of a database focused on the exhibition and reception of American film in Hamilton during WWII, such that it might be used effectively in the teaching and learning interventions considered.

Authors: Beth Marquis, Stephen Johnson, Safiyya Ahmad, Nadia Ahmed, Rabia Ahmed, Emma Mulholland

Past Research

Examining the place of creativity across disciplines

While scholars, policy makers, and employers alike have spoken about the importance of creativity, existing research suggests that creativity is not often explicitly taught within undergraduate education. Drawing from online surveys of instructors and a qualitative analysis of undergraduate course outlines, this multi-phase research project seeks to understand the ways in which creativity is defined, valued, and taught across disciplines at Ontario universities. Ultimately, the aim is to use this information to identify opportunities to enhance teaching for creativity in undergraduate courses.

Relevant Publications:
Marquis, E. & Henderson, J.A. (2015). Teaching creativity across disciplines at Ontario universities. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 45(1), 148-166. Available online at
Marquis, E. & Vajoczki, S. (2012). Creative differences: Teaching creativity across the disciplines. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning 6(1). Available online at:

Authors: Beth Marquis, Jeremy Henderson, Stephanie Bertolo, Joshua Feldman, Leah Pantich, Kaila Radan, Christine Un