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Research Publications

Visit our Google Scholar profile to review scholarship generated by staff at the MacPherson Institute since its establishment in 1972 (formerly the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Centre for Leadership in Learning, Instructional Development Centre, Learning Technologies Resource Centre, and Shell Canada Centre for Science Teachers).

Publication abstracts from 2020 are gathered below.

Expandable List

Student engagement in evaluation: Expanding perspectives and ownership 

Bovill, C., & Woolmer, C. (2020). Student engagement in evaluation: Expanding perspectives and ownership. In T. Lowe & Y. El Hakim (Eds.), A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education (83-96). Routledge. 

Evaluation processes requiring student feedback on learning and teaching remain predominantly designed and controlled by staff. In this chapter, we explore definitions of student engagement and evaluation and we argue that there are many benefits of engaging students more deeply in evaluation.  Whilst we acknowledge there are some challenges to engaging students in evaluation, we use a range of examples to make a case for moving away from evaluation done to students towards evaluation carried out with students. We also provide a typology (and table) to illustrate the different kinds of evaluation and engagement that are possible and we outline how some more traditional engagement practices can be augmented or redesigned to enhance student engagement. 

Students with disabilities as partners: A case study on user testing an accessibility website 

Brown, K., de Bie, A., Aggarwal, A., Joslin, R., Williams-Habibi, S., & Sivanesanathan, V. (2020). Students with disabilities as partners: A case study on user testing an accessibility website. International Journal for Students as Partners, 4(2), 97-109. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v4i2.4051  

While partnership is widely encouraged as an approach to advancing the inclusion of disabled postsecondary students, these collaborations are largely taking place between staff offices and failing to meaningfully integrate disabled students as partners. In this case study, we describe the successes and challenges of a pilot project where students and staff with and without disabilities worked together to user test our university’s accessibility website, to which faculty/staff are regularly directed for resources on making their teaching more accessible. Instead of primarily treating disabled students as lacking capacities and requiring programmatic intervention to succeed in the university, a partnership approach validates and draws on disabled students’ specific expertise and experience to make institutional change. 

Respectfully distrusting ‘Students as Partners’ practice in higher education: Applying a Mad politics of partnership 

de Bie, A. (2020). Respectfully distrusting ‘Students as Partners’ practice in higher education: Applying a Mad politics of partnership. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2020.1736023 

Through engagement with the scholarship on Students as Partners (SaP) practice in higher education, the emerging discipline of Mad(ness) Studies, and my own experiences as a ‘partner’ on various projects, this paper seeks to synthesize a Mad politics of student-staff partnership in the academy. These politics are explored through four themes: (1) Equity? Attention to power dynamics and resulting trauma; (2) Interpersonal concord and consensus? Anger, conflict and collective action; (3) Mutual collaboration? Independence and survivor-led/controlled initiatives; (4) Inclusion? Partnership barriers and possibilities for Mad/disabled students. I end by proposing a politics of respectful distrust as Mad Studies and Mad/disabled people further explore opportunities for coalition-building and alliance with SaP colleagues. 

Evaluating factors contributing to positive partnership work in a students-as-consultants partnership program 

Foran, G., Knorr, K., & Taylor, R. L. (2020). Evaluating factors contributing to positive partnership work in a students-as-consultants partnership program. International Journal for Students as Partners, 4(2), 27-44. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v4i2.4095  

McMaster University pioneered its Course Design/Delivery Consultants Program (CDDCP) in fall 2016. This program pairs an instructor partner who is teaching or preparing to teach a course with a student partner to obtain a student’s perspective on teaching and learning in their classroom. Although the CDDCP was based on Healey, Flint, and Harrington’s (2014) eight values of partnership, the contribution of other factors to its success was of interest. Participants’ experiences were analyzed using a framework informed by these values. Qualitative analysis showed that these values were reflected in participants’ experiences. Additionally, it was revealed that participants’ experiences in the CDDCP were enhanced by two additional factors: (a) prior experiences and experiences gained through CDDCP participation and (b) the extensive program structure of the CDDCP. These findings suggest that partnership programs involving students, instructors, and coordinators should (a) explicitly acknowledge the value of participants’ experiences and (b) facilitate face-to-face time among participants. 

A radical practice? Considering the relationships between partnership and social change 

Guitman, R. & Marquis, E. (2020). A radical practice? Considering the relationships between partnership and social change. In L. Mercer-Mapstone & S. Abbot (Eds.). The power of partnership: Students, staff, and faculty revolutionizing higher education (137-150). Elon University Center for Engaged Learning. https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/books/power-of-partnership/chapter-9/  

In this dialogue, we—a faculty member and a student working in partnership—explore partnership’s potentials and limitations in relation to social change. We address partnership’s relationship to politics, its place within institutions and conceptions of change, and how it figures within individual relationships. In addition, we discuss whether partnership is “radical” or “transformational,” and what these terms might mean in the institutional contexts of postsecondary education. This examination stems from our desire to contribute to ongoing discussions about partnership and change by connecting partnership to larger political and institutional questions. 

From the ‘micro’ to the ‘mega’: Toward a multi-level approach to supporting and assessing student–staff partnership 

Marquis, E., Black, C., Guitman, R., Healey, M., & Woolmer, C. (2020). From the ‘micro’ to the ‘mega’: Toward a multi-level approach to supporting and assessing student–staff partnership. In T. Lowe & Y. El Hakim (Eds.), A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education (110-124). Routledge. 

In this chapter, we detail three innovative approaches to fostering student–staff partnership supported by the Teaching and Learning Institute at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada): an institutional ‘Student Partners Program’, an annual event for partnership practitioners from around the world, and an international, open access, peer-reviewed journal that models partnership in editorial practices and publishes partnership scholarship. We consider the extent to which these initiatives successfully weave partnership into institutional teaching and learning cultures, and draw on what has been called the ‘4M Framework’ (Friberg, 2016 ) to map and assess the ways in which they play out within and amongst various institutional levels. Ultimately, we argue and illustrate that the 4M model can be a helpful tool for those interested in developing and refining initiatives to embed student–staff partnership in higher education contexts. 

‘It’s a little complicated for me’: Faculty social location and experiences of pedagogical partnership 

Marquis, E., Guitman, R., Nguyen, E., & Woolmer, C. (2020). ‘It’s a little complicated for me’: Faculty social location and experiences of pedagogical partnership. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2020.1806789 

Pedagogical partnership is increasingly recognized as a practice with the potential to contribute to more just and equitable post-secondary education institutions. Previous studies have reported on the ways specific institutional programs attend to issues of equity, particularly considering if and how they involve students from marginalized groups. Similarly, others have argued for the scaling-up of partnership initiatives as a way to ensure greater inclusion and diversity amongst the staff and students who participate. Whilst the literature on this dimension of pedagogical partnerships grows, further attention to the ways in which faculty social locations influence and intersect with perceptions and experiences of partnerships is merited. Our study contributes to the literature exploring this issue. Our findings show a complex range of ways in which participants understand their social locations and the ways these influence their experiences of partnership, demonstrating the need for sophisticated conceptualizations of power and risk that attend to individuals’ positions within and outside of partnership spaces. 

Holding space and engaging with difference: Navigating the personal theories we carry into our pedagogical partnership practices 

Ostrowdun, C., Friendly, R., Matthews, K., de Bie, A., & Roelofs, F. (2020). Holding space and engaging with difference: Navigating the personal theories we carry into our pedagogical partnership practices. International Journal for Students as Partners, 4(1), 82-98. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v4i1.4093  

Acknowledging individual understandings of student-faculty partnership matters because personal stories can influence how such partnerships form, function, and evolve. We, as students and faculty, share our individual theories of partnership to illuminate differing ways people can make sense of partnership as praxis. Using a reflective, autoethnographic research approach, we unpack two interdependent threads from our narratives: (a) holding space for how personal histories shape the experience of partnership and (b) engaging the messiness of partnership. To understand and nurture inclusive practices, we contend, means engaging the unique standpoints and social positions that both students and faculty bring into partnerships. Instead of attempting to collapse and converge different perspectives of partnership, we take pause to consider how these differences can enrich partnerships and be honoured throughout a partnership. 

The impact of program structure and goal setting on mentors’ perceptions of peer mentorship in academia 

Haqqee, Z., Goff, L., Knorr, K., & Gill, M. B. (2020). The impact of program structure and goal setting on mentors’ perceptions of peer mentorship in academia. Canadian Journal of Higher Education/Revue canadienne d’enseignement supérieur, 50(2), 24-38. https://id.erudit.org/iderudit/1071393ar 

We compare how two different peer mentorship programs have shaped mentors’ experiences and development. The curricular peer mentorship program was offered to mentors and mentees as credited academic courses. The non-curricular program was offered as a voluntary student union service to students and peer mentors. Both groups of peer mentors shared similar benefits, with curricular peer mentors (CMs) greatly valuing student interaction, and non-curricular peer mentors (NCMs) greatly valuing leadership development. Lack of autonomy and lack of mentee commitment were cited as the biggest concerns for CMs and NCMs, respectively. Both groups valued goal setting in shaping their mentorship development, but CMs raised concerns about its overemphasis. Implications for optimal structuring of academic mentorship programs are discussed. 

Critical reflection on research on teaching and learning 

Fenton, N. E. & Ross, W. (Eds.) (2020). Critical reflection on research on teaching and learning. Brill Sense. 

In Critical Reflection on Research in Teaching and Learning, the editors bring together a collection of works that explore a wide range of concerns related to questions of researching teaching and learning in higher education and shine a light on the diversity of qualitative methods in practice. This book uniquely focuses on reflections of practice where researchers expose aspects of their work that might otherwise fit neatly into ‘traditional’ methodologies chapters or essays, but are nonetheless instructive – issues, events, and thoughts that deserve to be highlighted rather than buried in a footnote. This collection serves to make accessible the importance of teaching and learning issues related to learners, teachers, and a variety of contexts in which education work happens. 

Cues, emotions and experiences: How teaching assistants make decisions about teaching 

Marquis, E., Cheng, B., Nair, M., Santinele Martino, A., & Roxå, T. (2020). Cues, emotions and experiences: How teaching assistants make decisions about teaching. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(1), 29-42. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2018.1499882 

Scholars of teaching and learning have increasingly acknowledged the significance of attending to the experiences and development of undergraduate and graduate student teaching assistants (TAs). The present study aims to contribute to this growing body of research by exploring the ways in which TAs at one Canadian university make decisions during and about their teaching. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews, which were supported and supplemented by audio-recordings and observations of participants’ teaching wherever possible, we consider what cues, factors, experiences and relationships shape and inform TAs’ thinking and actions as educators, as well as how these junior instructors experience the process of making decisions while teaching. Ultimately, the findings suggest the need for more sustained attention to both the immediate, concrete processes of teaching in university classrooms and the affective components of this work, laying the groundwork for new branches of research and development focused on early-career educators in higher education. 

Just entertainment? Student and faculty responses to the pedagogy of media representations of higher education 

Marquis, E., Johnstone, K., & Puri, V. (2020). Just entertainment? Student and faculty responses to the pedagogy of media representations of higher education. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 28(1), 59-76. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681366.2019.1594346 

Hollywood film has been positioned as a form of public pedagogy – a site of efficacious informal learning. Acknowledging this educative potential, this article examines the ways in which faculty and students perceive and respond to representations of higher education offered by popular film. Drawing on focus groups and interviews with 22 participants, we discuss the key themes about teaching and learning that faculty and students observed in filmic representations – including an emphasis on genius, the presence or absence of effort, and a prevalence of extreme faculty-student relationships – and consider the extent to which these lessons shape viewers’ understanding and experiences of teaching, learning, and universities. While many participants suggested these representations are ‘just entertainment’ and thus have limited impact, their comments nonetheless indicate ways in which films shape their own and others’ experiences and perceptions of the university, underscoring the need for further research in this area. 

Meaningful teaching tool and/or ‘cool factor’? Instructors’ perceptions of using film and video within teaching and learning 

Marquis, E., Wojcik, C., Lin, E., & McKinnon, V. (2020). Meaningful teaching tool and/or ‘cool factor’? Instructors’ perceptions of using film and video within teaching and learning. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 20(1), 130-150. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1254306.pdf 

This study builds upon previous research that explores the pedagogical use of film and video by explicitly asking instructors about their attitudes towards and motivations for employing such texts in their teaching, as well as the challenges they face in the process. Data were gathered through an anonymous, online survey of instructors across disciplines at seven Ontario universities. Commonalities were found amongst participants in the purposes cited for using film and video as well as in the challenges that accompany use of this pedagogical tool. For example, instructors in four of our six Faculty groupings commonly noted drawing on film and video to engage student attention, and the two most frequently selected challenges in five of our six Faculty groupings were ‘technical difficulties screening films’ and ‘problems finding appropriate materials’. We consider the implications of these findings for teaching and learning and suggest areas for future research. 

Between culture and curricula: Exploring student and faculty experiences of undergraduate research and inquiry 

Perrella, A., Dam, H., Martin, L., MacLachlan, J. C., & Fenton, N. (2020). Between culture and curricula: Exploring student and faculty experiences of undergraduate research and inquiry. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 8(2), 90-113. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.8.2.7 

This study aimed to identify the perceptions and experiences surrounding undergraduate research and inquiry among students and faculty at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada; assess the extent of research and inquiry in the design of undergraduate courses; and explore the facilitators and obstacles educators encounter when attempting to implement this educational approach. Although differences exist in student and faculty definitions of undergraduate research and inquiry, we found two principal models that characterize its structure and delivery—the scaffold model and bookend model. A third, the abstract model, does not employ the practice of inquiry. Despite numerous benefits unique to undergraduate research and inquiry education identified by stakeholders, notable barriers (such as funding, faculty buy-in, limited student experience, and inherent competition) hinder its progress. Overall, we found a diversity of undergraduate research and inquiry practices across the university, operating within varying cultures and comfort levels, which suggests unequal access for student learners. 

Teaching with madness/‘mental illness’ autobiographies in postsecondary education: Ethical and epistemological implications 

de Bie, A. (in press). Teaching with madness/‘mental illness’ autobiographies in postsecondary education: Ethical and epistemological implications. Medical Humanities. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medhum-2020-011974 

This paper presents a critical interpretive synthesis of 53 articles describing the pedagogical use of madness/‘mental illness’ autobiographical narratives in postsecondary education. Focusing on instructor intentions and representations of student learning outcomes, findings indicate that narratives are most commonly used as ‘learning material’ to engage students in active learning, cultivate students’ empathy, complement dominant academic/professional knowledges, illustrate abstract concepts, and connect to ‘real’ life experiences and events. This paper contributes to a conversation across the intellectual traditions of Mad Studies, medical humanities, educational research, stigma reduction, and service user involvement to interrogate pedagogical uses of autobiographical narratives that remain in uncritical educational terms rather than as a matter of justice for Mad communities. While teaching with narratives will not inevitably result in social justice outcomes, thoughtful engagement with the ethical and epistemological considerations raised throughout this review may increase this possibility by shifting when, why, and how we teach with autobiography. 

Not ‘everything’s a learning experience’: Racialized, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ, and disabled students in social work field placements 

de Bie, A., Chaplin, J., Vengris, J., Dagnachew, E., & Jackson, R. (2020). Not ‘everything’s a learning experience’: Racialized, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ, and disabled students in social work field placements. Social Work Education, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2020.1843614 

This paper critically explores the implicit and explicit message that ‘everything’s a learning experience’ when social work students engage in practice/community contexts as part of their professional training. It does so by reporting findings from focus groups, interviews and an online survey about the field education experiences of racialized, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ and disabled social work students. According to these students, messaging that ‘everything’s a learning experience’ demands their adaptation to issues arising in placement as ‘opportunities for learning’, rather than recognizing how, at times, this ‘learning’ can entail corrosive instances of inequity, harm, neglect, and/or the additional demands of diversity or emotion work. Students described components of their placement experiences that they felt didn’t contribute—and, in many cases, actively interfered with—their learning. We show how common placement discourses and expectations—intersecting with placement shortages—are having detrimental effects on students and encourage specific attention to how students from equity-seeking groups are affected.  

Orientations to teaching more accessibly in postsecondary education: Mandated, right, pedagogically effective, or profitable? 

de Bie, A., Marquis, B., Suttie, M., Watkin-McClurg, O., & Woolmer, C. (2020). Orientations to teaching more accessibly in postsecondary education: Mandated, right, pedagogically effective, or profitable? Disability & Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2020.1848803 

This paper describes five orientations informing the efforts of postsecondary educators to teach more accessibly, including commitments to accessibility as the mandated, right, pedagogically effective, nice, and/or profitable thing to do. These orientations emerged from focus groups and interviews with instructors and teaching assistants at a research-intensive Canadian university. By attending to these underlying orientations, we can grapple with important, but often unexamined, complexities, such as messages we may be inadvertently endorsing and contradictions between intentions and potential outcomes and their ramifications. We encourage support for educators to reflect on the limitations and complications of their orientations and associated efforts to advance accessibility, as well as cross-pollination with other areas of critical scholarship beyond that focusing on Universal Design and accessibility-specific principles. 

Disabled student advocacy to enhance accessibility and disability inclusion in one School of Social Work 

de Bie, A., Kumbhare, S., Mantini, S., & Evans, J. (2020). Disabled student advocacy to enhance accessibility and disability inclusion in one School of Social Work. Critical and Radical Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1332/204986020X16031173597330 

In this article, current and former social work students with disabilities consider how the student Disability Action Group has facilitated greater accessibility and disability inclusion in our Canadian university’s School of Social Work. After reviewing the relative absence of disabled student voices in the published literature on disability/accessibility advocacy initiatives in Canadian social work education, we reflect on the work of the Disability Action Group and the successes and challenges we have faced. We encourage other disabled social work students to collectively advocate for their learning needs and call on faculty and staff to better support us in enhancing accessibility and documenting and sharing student efforts to do so. 

Co-producing psychiatric education with service user educators: A collective autobiographical case study of the meaning, ethics, and importance of payment 

Soklaridis, S., de Bie, A., Cooper, R. B., McCullough, K., McGovern, B., Beder, M., … & Agrawal, S. (2020). Co-producing psychiatric education with service user educators: A collective autobiographical case study of the meaning, ethics, and importance of payment. Academic Psychiatry, 44(2), 159-167. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40596-019-01160-5 

Co-production involves service providers and service users collaborating to design and deliver services together and is gaining attention as a means to improve provision of care. The authors describe the dynamics involved in co-producing psychiatric education as experienced in their work. A collaborative autobiographical case study approach provides a snapshot of the collective experiences of working to write a manuscript about paying service users for their contributions to co-produced education. The juxtaposition of the vision for an inclusive process against the budgetary constraints that the authors faced led them to reflect deeply on the many meanings of paying service user educators for their contributions to academic initiatives. These reflections revealed that payment had implications at personal, organizational, and social levels. Unless payment is accompanied by other forms of demonstrating respect and is connected to a larger goal of achieving social justice, the role of service users as legitimate knowers and educators and ultimately their impact on learners will be limited. 

Seven principles for good practice in midterm student feedback 

Taylor, R. L., Knorr, K., Ogrodnik, M., & Sinclair, P. (2020). Seven principles for good practice in midterm student feedback. International Journal for Academic Development, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2020.1762086 

Midterm student feedback is a common process in post-secondary institutions that can lead to enhanced teaching practices and thereby potentially to higher ratings of instructional skills in summative course evaluations. At McMaster University, midterm student feedback is called a ‘Course Refinement’ and includes consultation with educational developers. As part of a multiphase study investigating teachers’ perceptions of the Course Refinement process and its impact, this analysis presents effective attributes of the process as an adaptation of Chickering and Gamson’s well-known ‘seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education’, as our findings align with their work. To our knowledge, this marks the first educational development adaptation of the ‘seven principles’. 

The changing landscape of graduate teaching certificate programs in Canada 

Verkoeyen, S., & Allard, E. (2020). The changing landscape of graduate teaching certificate programs in Canada. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2020.1.8203 

In a 2014 paper, Kenny, Watson, and Watton analyzed 13 Canadian universities offering graduate teaching certificate programs. This research used the Kenny et al. (2014) framework to provide an update, addressing the following research questions. First, has there since been an increase in the number of graduate teaching certificate programs at Canadian universities? Second, how do the common features of these programs compare to those identified by Kenny et al. (2014)? Third, how responsive are programs to recent trends in graduate teaching development?  Program-related information was collected from the institutional websites of Canadian universities and verified by program key contacts. Since 2014, there has been a considerable increase in the number of graduate teaching certificate programs, both within and across institutions (from 13 programs at 13 institutions in 2014 to 36 programs at 25 institutions in 2019). This may be impacting how programs are structured and assessed. On the one hand, there appears to be movement towards reducing barriers to access programming, yet this growth may coincide with less resource-intensive program components and assessments. The responsiveness of programming to recent trends in program administration, programming content, and recognition varied. 

Understanding educational leadership through network analysis: A critical reflection on using social network analysis in a mixed methods study 

Woolmer, C., & Suh, J. S. (2020). Understanding educational leadership through network analysis: A critical reflection on using social network analysis in a mixed methods study. In N. Fenton & W. Ross (Eds.), Critical reflection on research in teaching and learning (pp. 52-72). Brill Sense. 

Examining the informal conversational networks of postsecondary educational leaders can shed light on change process related to teaching and learning. We designed a mixed-methods, longitudinal study to examine the professional networks of faculty members taking part in a 2-year educational leadership fellowship at a research-intensive institution in Canada. Combining the visual ego network data provided by Social Network Analysis sociograms with qualitative interviews, we sought to systematically explore the networks of individual Fellows. Centered on an illustrative case study, this chapter is an exploration of the rationale behind the study and the lessons gleaned from it. We discuss how it was informed by our respective research backgrounds and locations in the academy, further enriched within the context of a pedagogical partnership. We provide an overview of the practical and ethical challenges we faced and a frank discussion on the implications for praxis.