CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS / PANEL DISCUSSIONS
“Are we Making a Difference? Building Partnerships to maximize the impact of our work” – Workshop
– Arshad Ahmad, Leah Graystone, Anita Acai, and Nancy Fenton (McMaster University)
Are we making a difference? Answering this question with confidence and rigour has been a long-standing challenge for educators at every level. We have reached a point where isolated, insular studies and anecdotal evidence are not enough—not for our stakeholders, partners, nor for the educational community at large. We are increasingly being asked to describe the ‘impacts’ of the work we do in order to demonstrate and document our achievements (Parsons et al., 2012). The evidence of this impact is, at one level, visible every day; yet, defining, measuring, and comparing these impacts at different levels for sustainable impact on teaching and learning can be daunting. To achieve this, we need to embed our initiatives within disciplinary contexts (Chalmers and Keown, 2006), and build new ways to partner with colleagues to maximize the impact of our work. While the teaching and learning sector is making constant and compelling progress in developing approaches to achieve this type of impact, there is no evaluation established gold standard. In this workshop, a MacPherson Institute student scholar-staff partnership team present a practical “how-to” guidebook for investigating impact in higher education. This guidebook contains a selection of frameworks and case studies that can help administrators, designers, teachers, evaluators, and even learners measure and understand the impact of the work they do.
We will begin the workshop by briefly discussing the importance of evidence-informed impact investigations, provide tips for engaging partners, and share lessons learned from our own partnership in writing the guidebook. Participants will engage in small group discussions to explore the use of frameworks and application of models to plan their own impact study. Whether you are beginning a study, midway through, or looking back retrospectively, we suspect you will find valuable takeaways to help you move forward with engaging others in your own impact investigations.
“Developing Faculty-Student Partnerships: Reflections on the Student Partners Program at McMaster”- Workshop
– Cherie Woolmer and Kris Knorr (McMaster University)
McMaster’s Student Partners Program provides opportunities for faculty, staff and students from across disciplines to work in partnership on an array of teaching and learning projects. This includes (re)designing courses, conducting research, developing resources and, in some instances, co-authoring academic publications. The program, initiated by the MacPherson Institute in 2013, now supports over 100 students working in partnership with faculty/staff on teaching and learning across campus on an annual basis.
This workshop will provide participants an opportunity to learn about the practice of partnership through local and international examples (Mercer-Mapstone et al, 2017) and to explore the potential benefits and challenges of developing opportunities to work with students within their own contexts. Informed by debates within the literature, participants will discuss the principles underpinning partnership activity (Cook-Sather et al, 2014, Healey et al, 2014) and explore how this may differ from other forms of student engagement.
Location: Meeting Room 2
“Peer Mentorship in Higher Education: Challenges, Innovations, and New Directions” – Panel Discussion
– Umair Majid, Muzammil Syed, Aisha Sallad, Aaron Thomas, Dej Kim, Erin Leonard, Ayesha Khan (McMaster University)
Peer mentorship is a widely utilized teaching method that provides a multitude of benefits to enhance the student learning experience such as better knowledge retention and communication skills (Preston et al., 2014). Educational institutions around the world implement peer mentorship albeit in significantly different ways due to their differences in values, beliefs, institutional objectives (e.g. Tenanbaum et al., 2014). This panel discussion will elicit a critical and integrative dialogue on innovative ideas and emergent trends in peer mentorship. The discussion will begin by reviewing the context of the Life Sciences program at McMaster University, an undergraduate general science program that offers students with a broad and foundational understanding of the scientific disciplines. The curriculum of this program has undergone recent changes, one of which seeks to incorporate a peer mentorship program, referred to as the Science Mentorship Journey, in its paradigm (Majid, 2017). The dialogue will continue with an integrative discussion on the existing literature on peer mentorship including the benefits of peer mentorship programs, specific lessons derived from mentorship models such as the Japanese system, and how the mentoring relationship influences student outcomes. Faculty, staff, and students will offer their personal experiences to provide practical recommendations towards enhancing the role of peer mentorship in not only the Life Sciences program but in other educational programs at McMaster University. Finally, panelists will discuss the diverse ways to measure the outcomes of the Science Mentorship Journey given that it is a three-year program with a multitude of experiences for students.
Location: MIP Atrium
“Finding The Human Element In The Digital Learning Experience” -Workshop
– Dan Piedra (McMaster University-Centre for Continuing Education)
The term “engaging” is used so often today in describing learning needs and expectations that one begins to tune it out as part of the everyday learning lexicon. In a world where more and more of what we do everywhere is in some way linked to technology, it should come as no surprise that the learning and development space would be affected in a similar way. Authoring software seems to have taken over as the flavor of the day in that domain. That being said, technology is not the only way to achieve an engaging experience with learners, in fact in many cases, it is far from that.
There are many tools available which allow one to present information in what we may call the “next generation” of presentation software; authoring tools that have replaced PowerPoint and have allowed a great deal of self-directed learning to occur. However, one should not confuse clicking through a series of screens with talking avatars or videos as being the height of engaged learning. While it is true that one must click their way through such modules, often having to make decisions on the fly, it is far from what we humans would call a high level cognitive learning experience.
Regardless of how well intentioned these tools are, and how easy they may be to replace older, more static content, it will never replace the emotion and value which comes when humans are given a chance to interact. Whether this interaction occurs through simulated environments and scenarios or (preferably) through real life engagement, it will always surpass anything which current authoring software can create. That is because we humans thirst after personal interaction, where we can solve problems, collaborate, and create. How to do this involves techniques, which do not always result in a student working in front of a computer. Whether one is involved in online or F2F education/training, the goal is the same: create learning solutions, which allow for human interaction and bring the experience as close as possible to real life. Therein lies the secret to providing an engaging and highly challenging learning experience for all.
This presentation will provide an overview of a recent partnership between Riipen and McMaster’s Centre for Continuing Education (CCE). An experiential learning model which allows students to implement theory into real-life corporate projects within the setting of a Human Resources Certificate program will be explored.
Time will also be allotted to allow participants to share similar examples of experiential learning or other such examples that increase humanization within the digital learning space.