Spring 2013 | Special issue

Spring 2013 | Special issue
Spring 2013 | Special Issue
BOOKS New Titles From Leading Researchers
University of Manitoba
A Special Issue of ResearchLIFE
i TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
BOOKS New Titles From Leading Researchers
Welcome to this special issue of TeachingLIFE,
where the University of Manitoba celebrates
our teaching innovation and excellence.
The University of Manitoba has been
recognized as Manitoba’s premier university,
bringing teaching to life for well over a century.
Our university offers over 100 programs and 5,500
courses. From the development of the first MOOC
(massive open online course), to innovative service
learning courses such as Architecture’s focus on
“designing for a more socially responsible future”,
to the inner city social work program at the William
Norrie Centre on Selkirk Avenue that teaches
Indigenous ways of practice, our teaching and
student engagement activities have made contributions that have local, national and global impact.
I invite you to turn the page and step into
the exciting world of teaching and learning at the
University of Manitoba. You will be inspired by what
you find. University teachers across disciplines are
working passionately and diligently to enhance the
student learning experience. Whether it is refining
the instructional design of a course, using tools like
videos, iPads and e-learning, or creating group work
and field experiences, this magazine conveys the
commitment and rigour of our faculty in their
approaches to teaching.
This issue also highlights our award-winning
teachers and presents recent publications by our
instructors and faculty. This issue showcases the
broad range of approaches and contributions to
teaching and learning that happen across our diverse
campus. I am very proud of the accomplishments
of my colleagues. At the University of Manitoba,
teaching matters and it is something to celebrate!
—Joanne C. Keselman, PhD
1 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
spring 2013 | special issue
Dr. Janice Ristock, Vice-Provost (Academic Affairs)
Great Teaching Revealed
Mathematics instructor Robert Borgersen uses
all the resources at his disposal to enable students to
succeed. He is a true educational pioneer, testing the
waters of educational technology.
Education professor Jennifer Katz saw a need to adapt to the
changing student population in her classrooms, to create inclusive
classrooms. She found an innovative use of an architectural design
principal to do just that. BY ANDREA DI UBALDO
Lance Roberts is a gifted teacher who embraces the challenge of
teaching today’s student. He strives to develop the optimal teacher/
student relationship that he knows allows learning to happen.
Storytelling plays a large role in Aboriginal teaching methodologies.
Native studies instructor Agnieszka Pawlowska shares her personal
teaching philosophy—things she has learned and continues to learn
in her journey, both in the boreal forest and as a new teacher.
Happenings..................... 3
Viewpoint....................... 18
Kudos............................. 5
Spotlight on Students.... 23
Centres & Institutes........ 8
Creative Works............. 29
Hot off the Presses........ 15
Online Learning............. 32
Ideas to Innovation......... 17
Learning Together......... 34
University Teaching Services
208-214 Isbister Building
183 Dafoe Road
Winnipeg, MB Canada R3T 2N2
P: 204.474.6958 • F: 204.474.7514
Andrea Bilash, Katie Chalmers-Brooks,
Jennifer Chlopecki, Andrea Di Ubaldo,
Jonathan Dyck, Melni Ghattora, Janine
Harasymchuk, Crystal Jorgensen,
Sean Moore, Fred Munson, Michael
O’Brien-Moran, Agnieszka Pawlowska,
Janice Ristock, Amber Skrabek, L.
Karen Soiferman, Mark Torchia, Lorna
Joanne C. Keselman, PhD
Cover and throughout:
Mike Latschislaw
Luc Desjardins, Daniel Gwozdz
Janine Harasymchuk
ISSN# 1918-144
Relish New Brand Experience Inc.
Michael Hart, is playing a lead
role in sharing Indigenous
healing and helping practices.
A Canada Research Chair in Indigenous
Knowledges and Social Work, Hart teaches
the course Indigenous Ways of Practice,
which connects students with a deeper
understanding of Indigenous cultures and
peoples in Manitoba through experiential
and participatory learning. The course
challenges students to explore views that
may be different than their own, and encourages them to expand their repertoire
of helping methods, to positively impact
clients and communities.
to Listen
For the past two years,
nursing professors Elaine
Mordoch and Donna Martin
have been teaching graduate
students about multiple realities. Though the syllabus does
not guarantee it, the course
provides a transformational
learning experience: students
will undergo a deep structural
shift in the basic premise of
their thoughts and feelings
and actions.
3 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
Daniel Gwozdz
Elders have the biggest impact in
guiding the course, which involves a 5-day
intensive retreat where students set up
camp and live ‘on the land’; gather supplies
and set up a sweat lodge; participate in
sharing circles and ceremonies; and listen
to presentations and storytelling from a
variety of Indigenous perspectives such
as Cree, Anishinaabe and Dakota. “Elders
come in, share their own stories about
healing processes they go through, and
what they do to help others using their
own stories—personal stories,” says Hart.
Students in social work, law, education,
arts and more have benefited from taking
“We’re trying to teach
nurses and other students
to really think about the
context of people’s lives,
to understand people’s
stories and not be judgmental. When two people
are sick with the same type
of cancer, their journeys
often play out differently
and we want nurses who
understand this, respect
people for that, and try to
help them on that unique
journey,” Mordoch says.
Martin and Mordoch
teach this in their
Above: Professor Michael Hart
the course. “Their eyes are opened up
widely,” says Hart.
While the course also includes reading
and writing assignments, the emphasis is
on learning by doing. According to Hart,
“The experiential part is vital.” He explains,
“We’re reflecting Indigenous ways of being,
and we’re being consistent in our own
epistemologies and our own pedagogies
so that students have a full experience as
opposed to just reading about it.” n
Qualitative Research
Methods course using the
book The Help by Kathryn
Stockett. The Help is rich in
characters and political and
social undertones foreign
to a Canadian graduate
The students focus on
various themes in the book
and record their thoughts
and reactions in the margin.
They then interview each
other about their reactions
and transcribe the interview. This process allows
students to really
listen to opposing
views. They begin to question the genesis of their
own assumptions—culture,
gender, personal history
perhaps—and once
discovered, they begin to
learn to suspend these
assumptions, letting
the data speak for itself.
Equipped with this skill,
they are better able to
listen to others through
unbiased paradigms. n
Law in the
At the Legal Help Centre,
U of M law students help
disadvantaged people
navigate our complex legal
system and assert their rights.
By giving their time to those
who can’t afford a lawyer
they gain a better understanding of their future role.
“My internship is among my favourite
law school experiences,” says Jayme
Menzies. “It has granted me invaluable
experience but has also contributed
to my sense of purpose as I work my
way through an education that can
be confusing and frustrating at times.
Learning to further understand and
respect economically disadvantaged
community members has made the
Legal Help Centre a refreshing environment in which to work. With this
internship program Robson Hall can
continue contributing to a sustainable
source for accessing justice.”
Three years ago, the Faculty of Law
introduced several service learning internships, bridging the academic study
of law and its practice in the community. In addition to serving clients at the
Legal Help Centre—focusing on family,
tenancy and immigration matters—
students have the opportunity to get
involved at the University Law Centre
(guided by Legal Aid lawyers) and the
Public Interest Law Centre.
The latter tackles policy issues related
to consumers, poverty, the environment, and Aboriginal and Charter of
Rights challenges. Unique in Canada,
the Centre takes on test cases for public
interest groups and low-income people.
Connecting academic study with
service contributes to learning that is
deeper and longer lasting, says Faculty
of Law dean Lorna Turnbull. “Students
engage in problem solving by drawing
on the substantive knowledge they
have acquired over the course of
their law studies, while serving the
needs of underserved members of
our community. n
Bringing the Field
to the Faculty
Soil scientists Don Flaten and Paul Bullock know
the value of the case study as a teaching tool.
They are part of a team (three professors, two teaching assistants
and one farmer) that deliver the Diploma in Agriculture course
SOIL 0620 Soil Conservation and Management. The core knowledge provided through lectures is brought to life in the lab section
of the class, where the students are divided into small teams and
presented with “real-world” challenges of soil management and
All the labs focus on a case farm based
on a Brandon area organic operation
owned and operated by Ian Grossart, a
graduate of the diploma program himself.
Students analyze the soils, landscape,
weather and air photos to assess land and
water related environmental risks, then
discuss how to mitigate and adapt to
them. The issues include climate risk,
nutrient management, salinity, erosion
and irrigation.
Bullock says the lab exercises have
students seriously debating among
themselves the pros and cons of the
various management choices to address
the situations.
“It is clear that a level of engagement
has been achieved that is triggering
serious thought that should stay with these
students long past the final lab exercise,”
he said. n
Spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 4
University 1 (U1)
U1 offers an annual award to
recognize excellence in teaching
among those teaching courses
included on the U1 list of
recommended introductory
courses. Students nominate an
instructor who was instrumental
in helping them make a successful
academic and personal transition
to the University of Manitoba;
and/or stimulated their interest
in the subject area he/she taught;
and/or was enthusiastic, organized,
and facilitated effective learning.
The award winners for
2011-2012 were:
Professor Rob Borgersen, mathematics,
Faculty of Science
Student comments:
“Professor Borgersen enjoys teaching,
which makes a huge difference. He makes
himself very accessible and adds humor
into the class. He has been extremely
accessible, helpful and organized. He put
up a website in which there are resources
and remarks that are vital to the course. You can also email him or Skype him any
time of the day. I think he is doing a great
job teaching!”
Professor William Korytowski,
mathematics, Faculty of Science
Ongoing Outstanding Teacher
2011-2012 Award Winner
Student comments:
“Thanks to Professor Korytowski, I did
pretty well and actually enjoyed the class. He is very enthusiastic and has a very
effective way of explaining things. If you
didn’t understand one way, he was quick
to think of another way to explain. I would
consider taking more math classes if I
could take them with him. He’s an
amazing professor!”
5 Teaching
ResearchLIFE || Summer
spring 2013
“I ranked him all fives on the
categories on the nominations form
because he is truly deserving of each and
every one of those fives. Even though we
are in a large classroom, he makes us all
feel like individuals and treats every
question with direct explanations. It is
evident he does everything to make his
students succeed.”
Professor Lance Roberts, sociology,
Faculty of Arts
Student comments:
“Professor Roberts related subjects to
everyday life, making us interested in all
lectures. This also made it easier to learn
and helped me get through the first term
“Professor Roberts genuinely tried to
help his students succeed in the field
of Sociology.”
“One of the best professors I’ve had
thus far!”
“I loved his lectures so much!”
Professor Robert Smith, English, film &
theatre, Faculty of Arts
Student comments:
“Professor Smith is a very good teacher
who enabled the students to participate in
discussions and helped us to write better
essays. He is always full of energy.” “Professor Smith is one of the best
theatre instructors I have ever had.
He inspires me to be the best actor that
I can be.”
Top: Robert Smith
From Left to Right:
Rob Borgersen,
William Korytowski,
and Lance Roberts
The University encourages and supports excellence in teaching through awards that recognize
academic staff members who have earned outstanding reputations as teachers. All students in their
graduating year, as well as recent graduates and colleagues, are invited to nominate academic staff
members for consideration for teaching awards. 2012 marked the 45th year that the Stanton Award
for Excellence in Teaching, and the 42nd year for the Dr. and Mrs. H.H. Saunderson Award for
Excellence in Teaching were presented at the spring convocation ceremonies.
Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Saunderson Award
for Excellence in Teaching
Olive Beatrice Stanton Award
for Teaching Excellence
Robert J. Elias, geological
sciences, Clayton H. Riddell
Faculty of Environment, Earth,
and Resources
Pauline Broderick,
Faculty of Education
An exceptional teacher, awardwinning researcher and holder
of a world record for his work,
Robert J. Elias is dedicated to
his students and to furthering
knowledge in geology. Despite
his reputation with students
for crafting difficult tests, they describe him as “awesome”.
Known for his humour and slideshows, Professor Elias
has received various teaching and research awards over the
course of his career.
Dedicated to the arts and the
improvement of her community,
Pauline Broderick instills her
students with the same passion
for drama and knowledge she
holds. She inspires her students
with a passion for the arts
which she has carried with her
from her days as a teacher at
the Prairie Theatre Exchange Theatre School. While there,
she expanded the theatre’s role in using drama as a means
of developing life skills and social awareness through her
work with the Choices Program, an anti-gang initiative, and
Upward Bound, an innovative adult education program.
Subramanian (Subbu)
Sivaramakrishnan, marketing,
Asper School of Business
Barbara Goodwin,
Faculty of Nursing
Recognized for his extensive
knowledge, humour and
dedication to his students and
community, Dr. Subramanian
Sivaramakrishnan is an
award-winning educator and
researcher. His students praise
his dedication to teaching and
ability to make them enthusiastic
about learning. His students enjoy his ability to infuse
lectures with humorous anecdotes and to provide abundant
examples to illustrate points.
Recognized as an exceptional
educator, Barbara Goodwin is an
award-winning professor who
uses humour and her extensive
experience to infuse students
with a passion for nursing. This
teaching award comes as no
surprise to her students who
proclaim her to be the “best
prof ever”. She is known for her
lighthearted approach, ability to explain complex material,
and for possessing a humour that can lighten the mood
of a challenging course.
Spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 6
By Sean Moore
Going that Extra Mile
It’s the kind of event where a box of tissue papers lay at
the ready by the podium. At the annual Student Teacher
Recognition awards, graduating students invite a professor, and a high school or elementary school teacher,
to simultaneously stand in front of a crowd while their
greatness is extolled.
“This is one of the best events of the university year,” Mark
Torchia, director of University Teaching Services, said prior to
the event. “Each year, graduating students give personal and
touching tributes to certain men and women who made such
a difference in their lives and inspired them to become the
trailblazers and challengers they are today.”
Emotional though it got, surprisingly, elocution did not suffer
from sobs or mumbles; perhaps thanks to past oration teachers,
or perhaps thanks to the excitement of the day, which gave
levity to the speeches.
Coming into the auditorium a young woman remarked to her
companion, “This is exciting.”
“So exciting,” the other woman, Mary Hall, said.
“My son Thomas is being recognized but I’m also a teacher
and I also teach at the university and that’s why I’m so excited,”
Hall explained when asked why she was excited. “I really think it’s
wonderful for the university to recognize the people that have
made such an impact on the learning of young people through
their dedication and their outstanding teaching and their commitment and their care.”
In the event’s 20-year history, over 800 teachers have been
honoured. Some teachers come from around the world to
attend; this year a teacher came from Dubai. The 2012 event
saw, for the first time, a father and son get recognized for their
teaching: Frank Hechter, a professor of orthodontics, and his
son Richard Hechter, a teacher at the Collegiate at the University
of Winnipeg (and assistant professor at the U of M’s Faculty of
This year’s theme was “going the extra mile”, and although
School of Art student Kae Sasaki could not thank her high school
teacher, Hiroyuki Kondo, in person because he could not travel
the miles from Japan, she nevertheless honoured him, and her
sculpture professor Gordon Reeve, whom she wrote a humourous haiku for.
“Professor Gordon Reeve/You’re the wind beneath our wings/
Flap flap flap flap flap.”
7 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
Teachers deserve to be celebrated for innumerable reasons
but one reason seemed prevalent in most speeches, and it was
something the Province’s Minister of Advanced Education and
Literacy, Erin Selby, noted at the beginning of the event: Great,
impactful teachers have the ability to see a student’s potential
and nurture it, even before the student knew that potential
was there.
Many of these great teachers were trained by the University
of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education, an innovative faculty that
challenges its students, amplifying their passion and honing
their natural teaching talent. n
University Teaching Services (UTS) began more than 20 years ago and has played an important
role in the teaching and learning environment at the University of Manitoba. Now, more than
ever, that role has become critical. To better reflect our broadening and scholarly mandate, UTS
is changing its name: effective May 15, 2013 we are now the Centre for the Advancement of
Teaching and Learning.
When we reflect on today’s trends in higher education, it is
apparent that there are many pressures on instructors across
North America; greater competition for grant funds, increasing learner-teacher ratios, accelerating enrollment in graduate
programs. Students similarly have pressures and needs; expectations for experiential learning and technology-based approaches
to learning, in-school employment rates of 45%, family and job
market pressures.
All of these considerations (and many more) create impacts
on the process of teaching and learning and the Centre finds
itself right in the middle! And that is just where we thrive.
With a mission that encompasses all of the strategic areas of
importance at the U of M, i.e. academic enhancement, student
experience, Indigenous achievement and being an outstanding
workplace, there is no shortage of opportunities for the Centre
to positively impact teaching and learning.
Everyone in our unit is always ready to engage and assist,
whether that is to design and provide custom workshops, explore new learning initiatives, or provide teaching and learning
consultation for departments or faculties. Planning or revising a
curriculum? About to undergo an accreditation visit? We provide
resources. Need to learn more about how to use technology
and engage learners through active learning strategies? Look no
further than the Centre. n
To learn more visit umanitoba.ca/uts
Spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 8
What is
9 TeachingLIFE | Spring 2013
Most professors, if asked—“What is research for?”—can readily answer: “It contributes to the production of
knowledge; it is for discovery; it solves problems; it contributes to my discipline; it is my career focus – where my
expertise lies, my passion.” Professors can often point to the significant contribution that our research makes in
the development of new technologies, clinical procedures, social policies, etc. that make a difference to individuals, organizations, and society. But when asked—“What is teaching for?” answers beyond conveying knowledge
(“professing”) may not spring to mind as readily as they do for the question “what is the value of research?”
By Janice Ristock, PhD, Vice-Provost
(Academic Affairs)
If we look at universities across the country, we see that they have been placing
more emphasis on teaching and learning in part because of a greater focus on
student engagement and the desire to
enhance the student learning experience.
While the impetus may sometimes have
been more enrolment-driven than purely
student-centred, valuable developments
have ensued from the turn to pedagogy;
for example, new vice-provost (teaching
and learning) positions, expanded centres
of teaching and learning, and the establishment of teaching chairs who focus on
the scholarship of teaching and learning
and on promoting teaching innovations
and excellence.
Yet the higher education system has recently been accused of failing its students.
In the book, Academically Adrift: Limited
Learning on College Campuses, authors
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa suggest
that students don’t seem to be learning
much and that universities have failed students in teaching writing, critical thinking,
complex reasoning, and leadership skills.
They argue that part of the failure is due
to lack of academic rigor—as though
there is an inverse relationship of sorts
between engaging students and challenging them.
Another recent volume on the state of
higher of education (Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for
Transforming Teaching and Learning)
challenges universities to think into the
future about what our teaching delivery
and learning environments should look
like: “We need to move away from the
dominant paradigm of the fixed time
and place classroom as the default model
for university and college teaching, and
think of all the many other ways we could
organize and manage teaching.” MOOCs
(Massive Open Online Course) have
almost become the order of the day.
These challenges are significant, if not
daunting, especially for individual faculty
members working to balance the demands
of teaching, research and service. They
also raise the need to consider, at an institutional level, how universities can better
support and value teaching and how
research intensive universities might strive
for a reputation of teaching excellence
that parallels our reputation for research
At the University of Manitoba much
has been going on in the area of teaching
and learning. This special issue is a testament to our teaching excellence and the
contents highlight many individual faculty
members from a range of disciplines that
are effective, dedicated, and innovative
teachers. University Teaching Services
has been engaged with several faculties in
the process of curriculum mapping—an
approach to reviewing programs to help
align teaching with learning outcomes and
assessment practices. We have also struck
a task force on blended and e-learning
to help us develop a university-wide
approach that considers the pedagogical and technological resources that are
necessary to sustain it. Underlying much
of this work is, still, the question, “what is
teaching for?”
As we look across different disciplines,
particularly professional schools like law,
engineering, education and social work,
we can perhaps more easily imagine and
embrace the value of teaching. Fields like
medicine, dentistry and nursing make
it clear that the successful teaching of
specific skills (from brain surgery to root
canals) and assessment of situations and
symptoms (stroke versus heart attack)
can be a matter of life or death. Here the
answer to “what is teaching for?” almost
goes without saying.
Perhaps less well understood is the
purpose of teaching in the liberal arts or
basic sciences, particularly in an economic
climate when the focus is often on what
jobs students can get with an undergraduate degree. In these areas teaching
is often about what Martha Nussbaum
calls “the humanistic aspects of science
and social science—the imaginative,
creative aspect and the aspect of rigorous
critical thought.” She makes a compelling
argument that universities need to teach
higher order analytical reasoning if we
are to preserve a democratic, civil society.
In many ways then, teaching students to
think deeply about history, about how
power operates, about the construction
and meaning of categories, and about
the greater validity of some forms of
evidence over others, is also a matter of
life and death.
Teaching is at the heart of what we
do at the University of Manitoba and
we strive for teaching excellence because
we care about our students and seek to
engage them in what matters most. n
Spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 10
Mike Latschislaw
11 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
By Chris Rutkowski
Solve for χ,
and why?
Innovative instructor uses humour and philosophy to
find ways of making math more interesting to students
Robert Borgersen can’t play the piano.
But that’s okay, because he’s a
math prof.
Nevertheless, he says the secret to
students successfully learning math is to
practice it a lot. “I like to compare it with
playing the piano. There would be many
things I would need to learn in order to
be able to play piano well: what an octave
is, the notes, how to read music, what a
major and minor are, and so forth. But
I still wouldn’t be able to do it unless I
He adds: “I can’t play the piano, but
because I practice, I can do math.”
Borgersen is an instructor in the
mathematics department in the Faculty
of Science. He explains: “Many people get
through primary and secondary school
without needing to practice math much,
and so when you get to university and
discover that practice is not just a good
thing but is essential, it can be a very hard
transition. I know it was for me.”
It is perhaps because he had to
overcome that transition himself that
Borgersen developed a passion for
teaching math at the postsecondary level.
He describes taking math courses in
university as a rude awakening. “In my
experience, most things taught through
primary and secondary school is
something to the effect of ‘learn this now,
because you’ll need it later.’ But later
never seems to come, so students
understandably lose interest.
“Arriving in university, students are
first asked to do more math for the sake
of math, and then are asked to solve more
applied problems. But these are generally
the dreaded ‘word problems’ which they
find very difficult. It seems to be a contradiction: students hate the ‘theoreticalness’
of math, but dread the complexity
of word problems that apply math to
the real world.”
Borgersen uses all the resources at his
disposal to enable students in their coursework, including online practice tests, blogs
and even social media. His online syllabus
is a many-faceted stepping stone to
mathematics resources around the world.
There are links to online worksheets,
answers to old exams and bonus assignments. He’s set up a web page for each
class he teaches that gives the course
outline, assignment due dates, problem
solving hints, special announcements,
office hours and a special departmental
“Honesty Declaration Form” that must
be printed off and handed in with each
assignment. There is also a link to a wiki
for one course (developed by mathematics Prof. Michael Doob): an internal
web-based encyclopedic guide to material
covered, such as definitions, equations
and visual representations.
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 12
Still need more help? Borgersen has
posted regular office hours and invites students to phone or email him if they have
any questions. He even invites students
to use Skype if they need some personal
Despite his truly “open door” policy
(virtual and otherwise), Borgersen notes:
“I only get maybe half a dozen [Skype]
calls per term, and that’s in a term teaching
nearly 500 students; although the students
that use it like it. In the end, it gives me
reassurance knowing that students have
little excuse for not getting help with the
content, since I am making myself so
Borgersen is convinced that accessibility and availability are the keys to effective
learning and instruction.
“At the beginning of every term, I do
a quick survey asking how many of the
students have a laptop or netbook with a
built-in camera, and how many of them
use Skype already. Both questions receive
an affirmative from a very large percentage of the class, so I know they are able to
reach out for help if they need to do so.”
He notes that future teaching will look
very different from traditional instruction: “I’m looking for a way to make it
much easier for students to learn, using
technology and resources that were not
available previously. For example, I could
have a video chat where they don’t need to
login and don’t need a program, but just
do it in their browser: click a button and
they’re talking to me. I’m hoping this may
produce great results.”
A true educational pioneer, Borgersen
continues to test the waters of educational
technology. He says: “I just experiment
and try things out―not afraid to fail, but
A true educational pioneer, Borgersen
continues to test the waters of educational
13 Teaching
ResearchLIFE || SUMMER
spring 2013
rather, through failure I learn something
more about the way the world works and
the way my students think.”
As if multiple web pages and classroom teaching wasn’t enough, there are
Borgersen’s blogs themselves. They include
his ruminations of all things mathematical
and also introspective posts on educational technology and best practices of
teaching. His posts allow him to speculate
on the nature of reality, current issues in
the news and the philosophy of learning.
As an example, in response to a question posed to him on Facebook, Borgersen
posted the exchange in his personal blog.
The original query was whether professors
should: “cater to the needs and learning
styles of their students, or if students just
need to suck it up and learn no matter
how the professor teaches.”
He replied at length, and summarized
his viewpoint: “When students work
hard and show a desire and interest in the
content, the professor is under a moral
obligation to give them the good that is
due them.”
He added: “A teacher’s job is to teach.
A student (a.k.a. learner)’s job is to learn.
That’s why it makes sense to fire a teacher
Tamara Nathanie
who doesn’t teach, and fail a student who
doesn’t learn—rather than fail a student
whose teacher doesn’t teach, or fire a
teacher when his or her students don’t
learn. However, good teachers will strive
to help their students in any way they
can, whether it be out of empathy, out
of an ethical imperative, out of a moral
imperative or something else.”
Borgersen has tried to help students
overcome a fear or aversion to math by
trying to be more approachable, more
accessible and yes, even more entertaining
than many other instructors.
When asked the secret to teaching students in a way that makes them more interested in math, he replies: “I wish I knew.
Many people smarter than I have tried to
answer that question. For me, I find that a
certain amount of ‘entertainment’ is necessary to hold students’ attention. I recognize
that I am ‘putting on a show.’”
When he first started teaching, getting
through to students was a challenge,
because Borgersen says he is “a quiet guy;
very much an introvert.” But over the years
he learned to get “outside himself ” and
now is “more like the teacher they need
me to be.”
He explains: “I have a collection of
jokes that I pull from and reuse on a yearly
sometimes even weekly basis. Many are
lame intentionally and some not intentionally but the point is to entertain, and
they do their job.”
What kind of jokes does one use in a
math class?
With his frenetic use of resources and
passionate view of his field, it’s obvious
Borgersen sincerely enjoys math.
“A gag I use often is a reference to my
horrible memory. I’ll tell them, ‘I have a
horrible memory. Have I told you that
before? I can’t remember...’ I say it often
enough about eight or nine times per term
that it gets a laugh from them whenever
I do.”
There’s also the ancient one-liner:
“There are three kinds of people in the
world: those who can count, and those
who can’t.”
Borgersen uses a version of that one,
adapted for advanced math: “There are
10 types of people: those who understand
binary and those who don’t.”
(If you don’t get that one, don’t worry
about it. It’s a geek thing.)
He continues: “One joke that is specific
to calculus classes is when I reference the
boy in the movie 28 Weeks Later who has
two different eye colours. I note that his
being in the room would make ‘the
function that maps everyone in the room
to their eye colour’ no longer a function!”
Maybe you had to be there.
Maybe it was his growing up in the
south part of Winnipeg.
Borgersen graduated from Collège St.
Norbert Collegiate in 2000, then did a joint
undergraduate degree at the University of
Manitoba in the joint math and computer
science program, with the co-op option.
Graduating in 2004, he started his masters
program and completed it in 2008. He’s
been teaching ever since, and has a typical
courseload today of six lecture sections
each calendar year.
With his frenetic use of resources and
passionate view of his field, it’s obvious
Borgersen sincerely enjoys math.
“For me, math is all about truth,” he
explains. “I love how there’s no in-between
in math; everything is true or false. If 1000
people think one way, but the truth is the
other way, the truth is the truth. It’s very
“I love communicating truth to people.
I hope that in every interaction I have
with people, I guide them towards a more
correct understanding of how the universe
works. I constantly strive to move myself
more in line with how the universe truly
works, and with the truths in the universe.”
So, rather than the truth being “out
there,” as one TV show would insist, Borgersen finds truth in the preciseness and
elegance of mathematics.
He explains: “I want to be like the
Bereans described in the Bible, in Acts 17,
who were said to have ‘noble character’
because they didn’t just take what they
were told at face value, but rather searched
out to determine if what they were taught
was true.”
With such a strong desire to educate
students in the universal truths and elegant
solutions demonstrated through mathematics, Borgersen may be one of the last
truly noble lecturer/philosophers.
At least, one of the few ones on Skype.
And again, what’s the secret to learning
math? Borgersen says it’s like the old joke
about the tourist who gets on a bus in New
York and asks the driver: “How do I get
to Carnegie Hall?” The bus driver replies:
“Practice!” n
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 14
hot ofF the presses
Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block
Model of Universal Design for Learning
(Portage & Main Press, 2012)
Jennifer Katz • educational administration,
foundations and psychology
In her book Teaching to Diversity,
Dr. Jennifer Katz
synthesizes the
research, and 16
years experience of
teaching in inclusive classrooms and
schools, to provide
answers to several
• How do I make inclusion work for
ALL students?
• What are the foundational best
practices of a truly inclusive learning
• How does one create such a
The author pulls together, in an
organized way, a three-block model of
universal design for learning (UDL) and
suggests a step-by-step approach for
implementing it. This framework includes:
Block One, Social and Emotional Learning: details ways to build compassionate
learning communities (K–12) in which all
students feel safe and valued, and develop
a positive self-concept, sense of belonging, and respect for diverse others. Block
Two, Inclusive Instructional Practice:
includes a framework for planning units
from K–12, and explains instructional
and management practices for teaching,
assessing, grading, and reporting in UDL
Classrooms. Block Three, Systems and
Structures: suggests strategies for creating inclusive learning communities, and
explores ways in which resource teachers,
student services personnel, and school
15 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
administrators can support and create
socially and academically inclusive schools
and classrooms. The three-block model
of UDL can empower educators with the
knowledge, skills, and confidence required
to teach diverse learners in the same
classroom—including those who have
previously been excluded. Ultimately, it is
about creating classrooms and schools that
heal by teaching to the heart, mind, and
spirit of every student.
Aboriginal Justice and the Charter,
Realizing a Culturally Sensitive
Interpretation of Legal Rights?
(UBC Press , 2013)
David Milward • law
How can Aboriginal
justice be practically implemented in
ways that go beyond
sentencing initiatives and parallels to
restorative justice?
Aboriginal Justice
and the Charter
explores the tension
between Aboriginal justice methods and
the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, seeking practical ways to
implement Aboriginal justice. David
Milward examines nine legal rights
guaranteed by the Charter and undertakes
a thorough search for interpretations
sensitive to Aboriginal culture.
Milward strikes out into new territory
well beyond that charted by the Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in the
mid-1990s. He examines why Aboriginal
communities seek to explore different
paths in this area and identifies some of
the applicable constitutional constraints.
This book considers a number of specific
areas of the criminal justice process in
which Aboriginal communities may
wish to adopt different approaches, tests
these approaches against constitutional
imperatives, and offers practical proposals for reconciling the various matters at
stake. Milward grapples with the difficult
question of how Aboriginal justice systems
can be fair to victims, offenders, and the
community while at the same time
complying with the protections guaranteed to all Canadians by the Charter.
To Hell and Highwater: Walking in the
Footsteps of Henry Lawson
(Big Sky Publishing, 2012)
Gregory Bryan • curriculum teaching
and learning
To Hell and High
Water tells the
story of the quest
of two brothers to
conquer the extreme conditions of
outback Australia,
recreating for the
first time ever, the
Bourke to Hungerford ‘tramp’ that influenced some of
Australian literary legend Henry Lawson’s
greatest works.
The book is part autobiography and
part biography. It is an autobiography of
the author’s experiences with his brother,
overcoming significant obstacles to
achieve his dream of walking in Lawson’s
footsteps. It paints a vivid picture of some
of Australia’s most remote country, the
challenges and dangers, the heat, the
distance, mosquitoes, blisters and thirst.
At the same time it blends in the
biography of Henry Lawson’s captivating
life including his marriage, struggles with
alcoholism, his suicide attempt, influences
upon his writing and his ideals of mateship. Extracts of Lawson’s own writing
have been carefully selected and woven
Recent books by instructors and faculty members
into the narrative in a manner that draws
parallels between the two experiences and
offers fresh insights into his life.
It is a story both of Australia’s past and
Australia’s present—in fact a relatively
little known past and present. This is an
opportunity for readers to find out about
an Australia that they know “nought
about.” This book is also the story of an
ordinary person achieving extraordinary
things through unwavering mateship and
a dogged determination never to give up.
(Text provided by publisher)
Book of the Elders: Sayings of the Desert
Fathers: The Systematic Collection
(Cistercian Publications, 2012)
John Wortley • history
In the early part of
the fourth century,
a few Christians,
mostly men and
some women, began
to withdraw from
the world to retreat
into the desert,
there to practice
their new religion
more seriously. The person who aspired
to renounce the world first had to find
an elder, a person who would accept him
as a disciple and apprentice. To his elder
(whom he would address as abba father)
the neophyte owed complete obedience;
from his abba he would receive provisions
(as it were) for the road to virtue. In addition to the abba’s own example of living,
there was the verbal teaching of the elders
in sayings and tales, setting out the theory
and practice of the eremitic life. In due
course, these sayings (or apophthegmata)
were written down and, later, collected and
codified. The earliest attempts to codify
tales and sayings are now lost. As the
collection grew, they were first organized
alphabetically, according to the name
of the abba who spoke them, in a major
collection known as the Apophthegmata
Patrum Alphabetica. A supplementary
collection, the Anonymous Apophthegmata,
followed. Later, both collections were
combined and arranged systematically
rather than alphabetically. This collection
was created sometime between 500 and
575 and later went through a couple of
major revisions, the second of which
appeared sometime before 970. This
second revision was published in an
excellent new critical edition, with a
French translation, in 1993. Now,
in The Book of the Elders, John Wortley
offers an English translation of this
collection, based entirely on the Greek
of that text.
Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony,
Globalization and Empire
Pluto Press, 2013)
Radhika Desai • political studies
Economy radically reinterprets the
historical evolution
of the world order, as
a multi-polar world
emerges from the
dust of the financial
and economic crisis.
In a radical critique of the theories of
US hegemony, globalization and empire
which dominate academic international
political economy and international
relations, Desai reveals their ideological
origins in successive failed US attempts at
world dominance through the dollar. At
a time of global upheavals and profound
shifts in the distribution of world power,
Geopolitical Economy forges a vivid
and compelling account of the historical
processes which are shaping the contemporary international order.
”Don’t Be So Gay!” Queers, Bullying,
and Making Schools Safe
(UBC Press, 2013)
Donn Short • law
Recent cases of teen
suicide linked with
homophobic bullying
have thrust the issue
of school safety into
the national spotlight.
In “Don’t Be So Gay!”
Queers, Bullying, and
Making Schools Safe,
Donn Short considers
the effectiveness of safe-school legislation.
Drawing on interviews with queer
youth and their allies in the Toronto area,
Short concludes that current legislation is
more responsive than proactive. Moreover,
cultural influences and peer pressure
may be more powerful than legislation
in shaping the school environment.
Exploring how students’ own experiences,
ideas, and definitions of safety might
be translated into policy reform, this
book offers a fresh perspective on a hotly
debated issue.
Canadian Health Policy in the News
Why Evidence Matters
(EvidenceNetwork.ca, 2012)
Edited by Noralou Roos • community
health sciences, Sharon Manson Singer,
Kathleen O’Grady, Camilla Tapp •
community health sciences and Shannon
Turczak • community health sciences
Canadian health
policy will always
be emerging and
unfolding, responding
to changing environmental and economic
factors, new technologies, publicly held
values and differing
political landscapes.
Canadian Health Policy in the News
captures a moment in time and presents
the issues that concern Canadians most,
grounding our national discourse and
debate on healthcare in the best evidence.
Imagining Winnipeg: History through
the Photographs of L.B. Foote
(University of Manitoba Press, 2012)
Esyllt Jones • history
In an expanding and
socially fractious early
Winnipeg, Lewis
Benjamin Foote (1873–
1957) rose to become
the city’s pre-eminent
commercial photographer. Documenting
everything from royal
visits to deep poverty, from the building
of the landmark Fort Garry Hotel to the
riots of the 1919 General Strike, Foote’s
photographs have come to be iconic
representations of early Winnipeg life. In
Imagining Winnipeg, historian Esyllt W.
Jones takes us beyond the iconic to reveal
the complex artist behind the lens and the
conflicting ways in which his photographs
have been used to give credence to diverse
and sometimes irreconcilable views of
Winnipeg’s past. Incorporating 160
stunning photographs from the more than
2,000 images in the Archives of Manitoba
Foote Collection, Imagining Winnipeg
challenges our understanding of visual
history and the city we thought we knew.
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 16
ideas to innovations
the Swiss Army Knife
of the Classroom
by Amber Skrabek
Ramanathan Sri Ranjan uses his iPad to effectively replace
the functions of an overhead projector, computer, whiteboard
and document camera. When the iPad was first released
Ranjan experimented with it as a teaching tool. He bought the
Documents to Go App that allowed him to open and save Word,
Excel and PowerPoint files, but the slideshow feature was not
very smooth and the transitions were slow during the presentation. However, when a PowerPoint file is opened in the Keynote
App, Apple’s own version of PowerPoint, the slideshow ran
smoothly. Some of Ranjan’s complex equations had to be recreated using the Formula App. Then Ranjan searched for an iPad
App that would allow him to sketch and draw freely just like on
a whiteboard. After reading and evaluating the reviews of several
dozen Apps, he picked the Notes Plus App which allowed him
to draw and sketch in a multitude of colours with multiple pen
thicknesses. It had the ability to create and save a .pdf file that
can be emailed from within the app. With a VGA adaptor, the
iPad easily connected to the classroom projector which instantly
recognized it.
Once his basic teaching technology needs were met, Ranjan
began exploring other apps that could help enhance concept
delivery. “Using my iPad in the classroom allows me to show
real-world and real-time examples of what I am trying to explain
to my students,” says Ranjan. “We are able to ‘fly’ to different sites
using the Google Earth app to show watersheds, rivers, irrigation
systems and drainage control structures.” The versatility of the
iPad also allows Ranjan to take his students on virtual lab and
field tours by using the UStream Broadcaster app which can turn
an iPhone/iPad into a streaming webcam. There is also two-way
communication available using the FaceTime app.
Recently, the NotesPlus App went through a major upgrade
to allow annotation of .pdf files and instant web access and
frame capture from within the app. This allows Ranjan to create
17 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
Mike Latschislaw
At a time when most teachers and professors
struggle to get their students to “powerdown” their devices so they can better learn
the material, one professor in Biosystems Engineering is embracing that very technology
and turning it into his greatest teaching tool.
Engineering professor Ramanathan Sri Ranjan embraces new technologies as
teaching tools.
additional teaching resources on the go. All his tests are set as
“structured” questions where just enough space is provided for
the students to write the answer. After the tests are graded, he
opens a .pdf file of the blank test from within the NotesPlus App
and uses a stylus to write the answers in class within the space
provided. This was very helpful to the students, some of whom
did not know how much detail was expected in the answer.
All this for a fraction of the cost of more “traditional”
technology. A computer, whiteboard, overhead projector,
document camera and all the related software would cost more
than $6,500—an iPad with VGA adaptor, stylus and appropriate
apps = approx. $650.
What was the student experience? Was the technology distracting? At the end of the term, students were asked to provide
their experience with the use of this technology. The students
expressed overwhelming satisfaction with the way the iPad was
used as a tool to teach in the classroom.
So when you enter Ranjan’s class, don’t “power-down”, it’s
time to “power-up.” n
By Michael O’Brien Moran
and L. Karen Soiferman
Challenges of
First-Year Learners
During the last four decades, interest has grown about
the transition of high school students to college and
university. Researchers have noted that faculty believe
students are ill-prepared for post-secondary studies.
Increasingly, students have observed the same
phenomenon, complaining that it’s assumed they have
greater knowledge than they actually do.
Most students, whether they come to the university directly
from high school or return to their studies at a later date, are
familiar with the learning environment of high school (characterized by a significant degree of direct instruction). As a result,
they’ll often default to that paradigm when determining their role
as learners.
University instructors, however, expect students to be more
independent in their studies. This difference in expectations often
leads to difficulties for first-year students, not because they are
unable to perform the tasks they are being asked to undertake,
but because they do not understand what it is they are being
asked to do.
Our research has shed some light on this discrepancy. Some of
our findings indicate that first-year students:
Tend to focus on the information that is presented in class
in discrete units. For example, individual facts, dates,
phenomena and texts rather than as an organized whole.
We believe that most students can be taught to adapt to the
new learning environment if instructors provide some degree of
scaffolding in the first few semesters. Adjustments might include:
Greater emphasis on direct and explicit instruction,
particularly in matters of procedure. For example, frequent
use of examples during lectures, detailed demonstrations
of procedures, and comparisons between successful and
unsuccessful attempts at particular assignments.
Marking rubrics that clearly identify expectations for
Marking schemes that allow students to learn from early
evaluations by placing greater emphasis on later assignments
and tests.
Assignments that reward students for their attention to
feedback, such as opportunities to rewrite and resubmit.
Class discussions in which discrete facts are organized into
meaningful conceptual frameworks.
Discussions of the significance of specific events or
Are not accustomed to the responsibility of divining meaning
from information and will often assume that the two are the
Will often attempt to apply prior knowledge and existing
learning strategies to new situations.
May experience confusion in their classes because the new
terminology for existing knowledge is unfamiliar.
Often understand what they are being asked to do, but they
do not understand how to do it.
Initially require direct and explicit instruction, particularly
in matters of procedure. Students need an opportunity to
develop an understanding of new processes before being
asked to undertake the task independently.
Most research indicates that many struggling first-year students
will learn to succeed if they are only given the chance to adjust to
the new learning environment. As instructors, our contribution
to that success lies not only in the passionate exploration of the
important questions of our respective disciplines but also in the
commitment to guide students through their apprenticeship to
those disciplines.
Michael O’Brien Moran is the coordinator of Introduction
to University, and L. Karen Soiferman is an instructor in that
program. n
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 18
By Andrea Di Ubaldo
Mike Latschislaw
Researcher Jennifer
Katz develops model
for inclusive education,
giving everyone the
opportunity to
19 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
From different cultures to different sexual orientations to
different levels of mental and physical ability—today’s
world is extremely diverse. Almost nowhere is that diversity
more evident than in a Canadian classroom.
With diversity in mind, Dr. Jennifer
Katz, assistant professor of inclusive
education in the Faculty of Education at
the University of Manitoba, is working to
create inclusive classrooms.
“Inclusion means that every child is
a part of the social and academic life
of the classroom regardless of gender,
culture, language, ability/disability, sexual
orientation or socio-economic status,” says
Katz. “Students coming to school should
all have the chance to feel good about
themselves and what they contribute to
the community, the opportunity to experience success and growth, and feel a sense
of belonging and interconnectedness to
something larger than themselves.”
This diversity means that students vary
in what they already know, what they are
ready to learn, how they learn and proceed
through the curriculum, and the level of
adult support they require for success.
Teaching for over 16 years in her own
K –12 classrooms, Katz recognized that
traditional teaching practices were not
working for her increasingly diverse students. In 2000, she developed a program
for establishing an inclusive learning
community she called the Respecting
Diversity (RD) program. The RD program
appreciated the different learning styles
of her students, and research indicated it
resulted in improved self-concept, respect
for others, an increased sense of belonging and pro-social behaviors, and reduced
aggression among them.
Katz saw success with the RD program,
so she applied that success towards development of a new practice for implementing inclusive education in her classroom
that she calls the Three Block Model of
Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Since joining the Faculty of Education
at the University of Manitoba in 2009,
she has been able to further develop
this unique and effective approach for
inclusive education.
“Universal Design actually comes from
an architecture principle where spaces or
buildings were designed from the beginning keeping accessibility for people with
physical disabilities in mind,” says Katz.
“It is the concept of accessibility that is
key to the transfer of UDL to education.
It became about how do we give access to
learning in classrooms; design instruction
with diversity in mind.”
Grabbing a piece of paper, Katz quickly
draws a plant. “I asked one of my classes to
draw the parts of a plant, and then I asked
them to illustrate how the plant grows.
They knew it needed water to grow,” says
Katz. “One student got all of the pieces of
the plant exactly right, but she had trouble
showing how the water fed the plant. I
asked her which way the water had to go
to feed the plant and that triggered that
she needed to use arrows to demonstrate
the water going up into the plant. She did
what she was asked to do.”
On the other side of the paper Katz
draws an elevator with water in the bottom and what looks to be roots, a cable,
and plant foliage at the top. She explains
that the cable is the stem. “This is what
another student drew to illustrate how a
The Three Block Model provides teachers with a
method for preparing students for what they will
actually be doing in the future and making
education accessible for diverse populations.
spring 2013
2010 || Teaching
ResearchLIFE 20
Teachers use the Three Block Model of UDL to create inclusive environments, engaging students in group activities.
plant grows—he demonstrated that the
water went up the “stem” to get to the “top
floor”, which was the plants leaves. He got
all of the parts of plants correct, but took
it to another level by making the visual
representation a metaphor. He went above
what was asked of him.”
Katz says that both were correct, but
they learned differently and showed that
they may be drawn to different fields or
disciplines. “The first student used the
skills and knowledge of a scientist and
scientific diagram—knowing the parts
and being able to show direction, while the
second student used the skills and knowledge of a graphic designer or someone in
marketing and advertising who is able to
visually express an idea.”
Katz explains that teaching using this
model isn’t about lowering standards, but
rather it’s about preparing students for
what they will actually be doing in the
future and making education accessible
for diverse populations.
The Three Block model provides
teachers with a method for creating
inclusive environments and improving
student engagement. Katz says, “The Three
Block model offers teachers a way to include students and to ensure that students
have the opportunity to realize their gifts.”
“People had researched pieces of the
model, but nobody had put them together,” says Katz. “I asked, ‘How do
I do them all at once?’”
Katz has broken the process of
implementation into three blocks to help
teachers manage the UDL model.
The first block, called Social and
Emotional Learning, involves building
compassionate learning communities, in
which all students feel safe, valued, and
have a sense of belonging. “This takes place
at the start of the school year where the
whole class looks at working as teammates
instead of competing,” says Katz. “Students
learn to value who they are and what they
have to contribute as learners, and to value
the diverse skill sets and knowledge of
their peers. As a result, bullying and
aggressive behavior decrease.”
In the second block, called Inclusive
Instructional Practice, physical and instructional environments are designed so
that students have access to differentiated
learning opportunities in order to address
their varied learning styles. “Course materials are differentiated in terms of level
of difficulty, ways of acquiring knowledge,
and strategies for demonstrating the
multiple levels of understanding for each
student,” explains Katz. “Regular feedback
and assessment is ongoing so that teachers
“Regular feedback and assessment is ongoing so that
teachers can assess for learning, and when needed,
conduct evaluation of learning.”
21 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
can assess for learning, and when needed,
conduct evaluation of learning.”
In the final block of the model, Systems
and Structures, provincial policy, funding,
staffing, and other administrative
practices are explored in order to promote
an “inclusive school system.”
Charles Bendu, a special education
resource teacher with Dufferin School
in Winnipeg, has begun to implement
the three-block model in his classrooms
and has witnessed an increase in student
engagement. “Once the room is set up
and the students understand what their
strengths are, the students can begin to
demonstrate their learning from that point
of view. What makes the UDL model so
effective is that it helps teachers guide
students to demonstrate their learning
and to be engaged. It’s a very democratic
and flexible way of instructing students at
different levels.”
Katz completed a study in Manitoba
of The Three-Block Model of Universal
Design for Learning. Funded by a grant
from the University of Manitoba, the study
explored the instructional outcomes, as
well as the social and emotional outcomes
for students. Over 600 students and 58
teachers in 10 schools located in four
school divisions participated.
Students in the study ranged from
Grade 1 to Grade 12, and were located in
a variety of rural, suburban, and inner
city schools. Results confirmed the earlier
While the results were profoundly
significant at the high school level,
significant effects were found at all ages,
locations, and for all genders.
findings of Katz’ RD program, which
include improved student self-concept,
respect for diverse others, sense of
belonging, and perception of class climate.
As well, the study indicated that students were significantly more engaged in
their learning, and specifically, were more
actively engaged in their learning in UDL
designed classrooms at all ages. Analyses
were conducted to explore whether the
model has differential impacts on students
of varying ages, locations (i.e. rural versus
urban), and gender. It was discovered
that students in secondary UDL classes,
on average, spent 42 out of 60 minutes
actively engaged, while students in nonUDL classes spent seven out of 60 minutes
actively engaged. While the results were
profoundly significant at the high school
level, significant effects were found at all
ages, locations, and for all genders.
Teachers were also surveyed to determine their experience of teaching in this
way – the benefits and challenges, student
outcomes, and job satisfaction.
“We found that everyone is more
engaged when we teach in this way—
learners and teachers,” says Katz.
Katz says she will now focus more on
the third block with a study in three school
divisions in Manitoba looking at how they
roll out the model on a large scale.
“Initially, I worked only on the
outcomes. For this next project, in
September 2013, I want to look at how
we do this systematically—what needs to
happen to implement the model as well
as the outcomes if we do it one way versus
another way,” she says.
Her research model has been adopted
by the Canadian Research Centre for
Inclusive Education. Katz has met with
Jody Carr, the Minister of Education for
New Brunswick, to discuss the model and
New Brunswick is developing a three-year
initiative to teach their teachers how to
implement UDL in their classrooms.
Katz formed the Manitoba Alliance for
Universal Design for Learning (MAUDeL)
to learn more about The Three-Block
Model of Universal Design for Learning
and to help move the inclusive education
agenda forward in Manitoba. MAUDeL
includes members of the University of
Manitoba and University of Winnipeg’s
Faculty of Education, graduate students
in the Faculty, members of the Manitoba
Teacher’s Society, Manitoba Education,
the Association for Community Living,
and Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, and teachers and
administrators from many different school
divisions across the province.
Katz regularly travels the country
speaking to school staff, parent and
teacher groups, governments and other
community agencies educating them on
UDL and inclusive education. Her book,
Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block
Model of Universal Design for Learning
(Katz, Jennifer. Winnipeg: Portage & Main,
2012), was published last spring and is
being used by teachers across Canada. n
To visually represent how each student learns, the class created a “community brain.”
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 22
spotlight on students
CanU Challenges
Students to be Explorers
By Andrea Di Ubaldo
Faculty of Education students build relationships
and discover new teaching practices
For the third year, bachelor of education (BEd)
students mentored 60 students in grades five
through seven from schools in Winnipeg’s inner
city in literacy, art, and drama as part of a six-week
afterschool program called CanU. The goal of
CanU is to provide athletic, nutritional, and
literacy learning opportunities to disadvantaged
youth while encouraging them to plan for
post-secondary education.
them because of the one-on-one time with them. That was really
different from my practicum experiences. I learned that teaching is
about building relationships.”
Honeyford explains that CanU gives faculty and BEd
students the opportunity to bridge the gap between coursework
and practicum. “In this space of CanU, we have an opportunity to
model practice for our students, to teach alongside them, and then
to discuss what we’ve learned,” she says. “In other words, teaching
and mentoring aren’t limited by the structures we experience in
coursework or practicum. They are experienced in action, together,
and then they’re reflected upon.”
Over 45 education students volunteered in this year’s program, where they were paired with one or two mentees. Jeshpreenia Kaur, in the second year of the BEd middle years
program, says her experience was one she will never forget.
“It was amazing to see my two students grow from day one
to the end,” she says. “They were both so shy at first. Each week,
we would get a little bit closer and they would tell me something
about themselves out of the blue. By the end we were having the
best conversations that I will always remember.”
The Faculty of Education’s program for CanU was a collaborative effort led by a team of faculty: Michelle Honeyford, Gregory
Bryan, Pauline Broderick, Liz Coffman, and Karen Boyd, a doctoral
candidate in Language and Literacy. The program was designed
to engage the students in exploring literacy and identity through
visual and dramatic arts. CanU participants and their mentors
rotated weekly, spending time together in interactive, hands-on
workshops in art, drama, and writing—organized around themes
from the picture book, Looking Like Me.
“We were challenged to work with our students to explore
their identities through things like poetry, painting and drama,”
explains Kaur. “We really got to build strong relationships with
Top: Grades 5 through 7 CanU students from schools in Winnipeg’s inner city
in literacy, art, and drama as part of the six-week after-school program. Below:
Jeshpreenia Kaur and her mentee, Ross, discover their identities through art.
23 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
“It was great to work with our teachers and see them in their
element and to reflect with them later,” says Kaur. “Through the
CanU program I learned different ways of using visual arts, drama,
and writing that I will be able to incorporate in my own teaching.”
CanU participants used the Faculty of Education’s facilities,
allowing them to become familiar with the places, people and
programs at the university and a greater sense of what the
university has to offer.
“CanU has been very powerful for me as it has helped shape
my teaching experience,” says Kaur. “It has also been amazing to
see the kids exploring the university and believing that they can
achieve a post-secondary education.” n
The little spacecraft that could
By Chris Rutkowski and Amber Skrabek
Half a millimetre.
. hat’s all that was keeping Dario
Schor from getting his team to assemble
UMBUG ready for testing this past winter
at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in
Ottawa. When they had started putting
together all the components of the
spacecraft, the team discovered it was a
smidgen too long.
.“But it’s not a major problem,” he
says. “It’s just a matter of grinding down
the metal end of the spacecraft.”
Designing and assembling UMBUG
(short for U of M Biology Unimpeded by
Gravity satellite) was a labour of love―and
lack of sleep―for the dedicated team of
students and faculty advisors of the U of M
Space Applications and Technology Society
(UMSATS). UMBUG is about the size
of a litre container of milk and it may be
destined for Earth orbit.
“It was exciting to work on the first
student-designed satellite in the province,”
said Dario Schor, UMSATS project leader,
a 28-year-old graduate student in
computer engineering.
.The UMBUG satellite is the end result
of three years of work for more than 100
students from a variety of disciplines,
including engineering, science, management and architecture, plus 50 advisors
UMSATS team.
from academia and industry. Their impetus was an
announcement in 2010 by
the CSA about the Canadian
Satellite Design Challenge
(CSDC), a challenge for
students in post-secondary
institutions to design, build,
and test an operational triple
pico-satellite (T-Sat), with
the winner heading for space.
The competition culminated in late 2012
when a panel of judges tested the entries
for spaceworthiness and scientific value,
and the design placed second in the competition.
The CSDC provided students with an
opportunity to expand their understanding and skills learned in their university
courses through hands-on experience
while designing and managing a complex
project. In the first phase, students were
exposed to numerous learning opportunities that expanded their theoretical and
practical knowledge as well as their communications and teamwork skills.
In the early stages of the competition,
teams from the U of M, the University of
British Columbia and Carleton University
emerged with the top marks. In fact, the
UMSATS team held the lead in the
competition throughout the design stages.
.UMBUG was designed to carry two
scientific payloads. The primary payload
was to launch into space a colony of microscopic organisms called tardigrades and
monitor their behaviour when exposed to
the harsh space environment, to see if they
can reproduce in space.
A second onboard experiment was
designed to obtain spectrographic data of
Mock-up of T-Sat in orbit.
the Sun over a broad range of frequencies.
Despite its small size (a restriction forced
by the cost and weight determinants of
launching a satellite into space) UMBUG
contained all the components necessary
to control the experiments, communicate
with a ground station at the university,
provide power and control the orbit of the
spacecraft, all done on a minimum budget.
In addition to the technical components of the mission, students needed to
fundraise at least $75,000 and solicit donations of time and materials from aerospace
and other firms. Funds would support the
design efforts—developing prototypes,
testing, final assembly—and travel costs to
CSA’s Ottawa facilities for final testing. The
support they received included financial as
well as in-kind donations of equipment or
expertise. Donors include: Magellan Aerospace, Texas Instruments, Shell Canada,
The Winnipeg Foundation, StandardAero,
and the Canadian Forces.
UMSATS is hard at work again,
further improving its UMBUG for entry in
the next CSDC competition and using
collaborative tools such as wikis to
facilitate communications between team
members. n
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 24
Luc Desjardins
25 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
By Katie Chalmers-Brooks
Sociology prof employs digital media,
peer collaboration, to help connect
classroom lessons to his students’ lives
Sometimes what we learn
in the classroom is what not
to do.
For sociology professor Lance Roberts
that lesson came early in his university
career, when he was still a student and
living in Alberta. It was decades ago yet he
remembers vividly the physics professor
who stood at the front of the room and
did little more than recite the textbook,
which he happened to have written. He
had almost no interaction with his students. “He was a textbook wired for sound.
There wasn’t a single thing that went on in
that class that wasn’t in the textbook. I’ve
never gotten over that,” says Roberts. “Our
job is to creatively connect with students.”
And do so in the language they are
most fluent in, he adds. Most of the
250 students in Roberts’ Introduction to
Sociology course were using a computer
before their first day of kindergarten. To
gauge how much they’ve learned in his
class, he invites them to communicate
through a medium they are most
comfortable with. That means
producing a video, in addition to regular
writing assignments.
“I think for many students, their digital
skills are stronger than their written narrative skills. This is not a pitch to say the
latter are unimportant but it says something about where our students are. These
are students who live in a digital world.
They’re wired. They’re connected. They’re
different in some ways, so how can we
draw upon that experience of theirs
in some way that is meaningful?”
At the end of term, he transforms his
lecture hall into his version of the
Academy Awards. The top three video
submissions in each category are revealed
and premiered for the class.
The students use video to apply sociological principles to their chosen topic.
This could mean analysing the lyrics of a
country song or the androgynous main
character in Mercer Mayer children’s
books. “It’s a wonderful way for students
to express their sociological imagination
in a form that is closer to the world they
live in,” Roberts says.
He also encourages participation in
the “digital conversation” that unfolds
regularly on his class website. His weekly
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 26
The classroom is a place where professors
and students should feel comfortable to try
and fail; that’s how you learn.
Luc Desjardins
homework assignment asks students to
respond to items he posts online—it could
be a cartoon, newspaper article or data
table—and in doing so interact with each
other. That’s the goal in the classroom as
well, to get students to share their ideas
with each other and learn from each other.
“There is a lot of brain power and talent
sitting in those seats and a lot of experience. For them not to participate with
one another seems to be a huge waste of
Roberts has earned several teaching
awards since coming to the U of M from
Edmonton nearly four decades ago. Most
recently, he received the student-nominated 2011-12 Excellence in Teaching Award
for University 1.
In teaching, he says, it’s important to
avoid making assumptions about what
your students know. “I guarantee you, in
any large class, not all students will be able
to compute percentages. Not all will know
the equation for a straight line. Not all
will know the date of the French Revolution or the difference between Bach and
Beethoven. They won’t. And by the way,
it’s not their fault. They didn’t create
the education system that brought them
to us.”
Dwelling on the debate about whether
or not students today in fact arrive at
university with less developed skills than
they once did serves no useful purpose.
“You need to begin where the students
are,” Roberts insists.
Professor Lance Roberts was recognized with
a U1 Teaching Excellence Award in 2012.
27 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
And not alienate anyone if they stumble
along the way. The classroom is a place
where professors and students should feel
comfortable to try and fail; that’s how you
learn. “Any professor who comes off as so
impressive that he or she never makes a
mistake or any student who feels the same
way, something is off.”
Roberts doesn’t take lightly those
moments in class when a student misses
the point and makes a comment that’s
incorrect. He knows it, the other students
know it, and if handled incorrectly, the
interaction can be damaging to the confidence of all of the students. “It’s very easy
to be shamed in a situation like that. And
when people are shamed in a teaching and
learning situation, I think it’s terrible,” he
says. “Not only does it feel bad but it has
consequences that inhibit your learning.
You’ll be less willing to take the kinds of
risks that are necessary to learn anything
Roberts diffuses the situation with humour. “A classroom that doesn’t have any
laughter is a place that is not meeting the
standard,” he says.
In his co-written book Authority in
Classrooms, he describes the optimal
relationship between a teacher and a
student in order to achieve optimal
learning. What role should a teacher take?
At one end of the scale, you have what
Roberts calls the ‘Total Sophisticate’, who
has a full command of the discipline,
comes to class and fills the board and the
lecture hall with points – and essentially
disregards the students. This person is
overly demanding and not supportive
enough. On the other end of the scale,
you’ll find what he calls the ‘Full Sentimentalist’, who is so concerned with supporting, nurturing, and reinforcing that
too little is asked of his students. The
‘Warm Demander’ finds a balance between
the two.
As such, Roberts aims to teach his
students how to better connect what
they’re learning to what’s going on in their
personal lives. Over a cup of coffee, they’ll
tell him about the mounting stress in their
lives, yet they don’t make the link between
their turmoil and the world conflict they
just read about in the textbook. “There is
this continuing challenge to help students
make a connection between abstract
concepts and principles and real-world
concrete illustrations. Because last time I
checked, sociology was about the social life
of real people,” he says.
This is why it’s important to him to
show video documentaries that reinforce
the link. His students saw footage from an
American boot camp revealing how ordinary 18-year-olds are transformed into
marines capable of killing. They also got a
better idea about cultural imperialism by
watching Cola Conquest II: How Coke Took
Over The World. Case studies like these
give them an idea of what’s happening on
a micro level.
To better understand what’s going on
at the macro level, he brings in large-scale
data sets for his students to analyze. For
example, they looked at information from
189 communities to test the legitimacy of
the nature versus nurture debate. These
are data sets that in the past would have
taken years to access. “It would have
been virtually impossible—unless you
were in a major centre like Paris, Boston,
or Berlin—to get your hands on that
kind of material. Now, high quality
international data sets are publicly available,” Roberts says. “It’s an entirely different world and from a teaching point of
“There is this continuing challenge to help
students make a connection between
abstract concepts and principles and
real-world concrete illustrations. Because
last time I checked, sociology was about
the social life of real people.”
view, it’s potentially a much more
wonderful world.”
The physical space where students
attend school also plays a role in their
learning process, he notes. Roberts has
gathered information from close to
1,000 schools across Canada, elementary
through high school, to develop a better
way of measuring how the condition of
the building affects student performance.
Governments spend billions of dollars
every year renewing schools. But if you
look at research in this area, you’ll find
opposing findings about whether or not
students actually benefit. There are studies
that report a correlation—up to one letter
grade—and studies that say there is no
link. “I’ve spent the last five years looking
into this question and figuring out what’s
going on,” Roberts says.
He discovered that, currently, administration looks at the issue only from a
property management perspective.
From this angle, a classroom with a single
one-square foot window would be deemed
adequate—as long as it didn’t leak. But
there would be no mention of how the
lack of natural light affects the morale of
the teacher and students who spend their
days there.
Roberts has developed research tools to
better gauge how a building influences the
learning that happens within its walls.
This means getting input from principals
and teachers and asking them the right
questions. “It’s a very interesting puzzle
that has very important practical
consequences,” says Roberts, who grew up
in Edmonton.
His father was a working-class steam
engineer; his mother stayed at home, and
was “right out of the 1950s movies,” he
says. Sociology first captured his imagination as an undergrad student, when he had
inspiring professors who were also
sociologists, people who “sparked (his) interest in this way of looking at the world.”
Now, he hopes to do the same for his
“Every year you get to start anew with
a fresh set of faces who are among the
brightest and best Manitoba has to offer
and you get to make a difference in their
lives. How does it get better than that? n
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 28
creative works
Agnieszka Pawlowska recently graduated
from the Certification in Higher Education
Teaching (CHET) program. She is currently
pursuing a doctoral degree at the University
of Manitoba in the Native Studies
Department and has been teaching within
the department. What follows is Agnieszka’s
teaching philosophy, from her own
experience and in her own voice.
By Agnieszka Pawlowska
29 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
Storytelling plays a large role in Aboriginal teaching methodologies.
This is a story about my teaching.
Step, step, push, sit. Paddle paddle.
The reflection of the landscape
against the water also reflects the
pondering of teaching. With one
paddle stroke after another, I imagine
that the art of teaching is about fostering learning in a creative and challenging
manner that reverts back to self-reflection. Like the canoe, whose design allows
one to travel narrow pathways deep into
the land, teaching is about motivating the
student to explore the numerous channels and unique pathways of scholarly
framework to the final destination: a
different person, a changed society, a
potential teacher.
Paddle paddle; as the dark water glides
against the canoe, each paddle stroke
brings me closer to my destination. My
teaching goal is to provide students with
a framework of knowledge through
concepts, terminology and theories of the
discipline of Native Studies and to enable
them to develop an informed concern
about contemporary social issues. While
developing their ability to articulate
verbally and through writing their prior
knowledge and experiences, I strive to
prompt students to make them think and
question their roles in our society.
Paddle paddle. Critical thinking is
engaged to provide the students with the
skills to examine historical facts and
contemporary representations of
Indigenous people in mainstream society.
I believe that my overarching goal is
transformative education. Paddle …
swoosh. I’ve crossed the channel.
Thump. Step, step. It is getting dark.
As I unravel my tent and necessary equipment to prepare for the night, I know that
an effective teacher needs to be organized.
Carefully designed user-friendly syllabi,
strategically timed lesson plans, visually
appealing lecture slides, and content-targeted explanations help me set the stage
for much of my teaching groundwork.
My syllabus is filled with a convenient
schedule, readings and lesson objectives
as well as with the necessary terminology
and grading rubrics. This will help the
students know exactly what is expected
of them each class and from the course
overall. I always make sure that the weight
of each assignment is low so as not to
overburden and discourage the students;
instead, I present them with an opportunity to develop skills through smaller
attempts. This provides students with
options and gives them more chances
to succeed.
As I stir the fire and lean closer into the
warmth of the flames, I think of the ways
I try to create a warm and safe classroom
environment. For me, this exists through
a relationship with the students. In fact,
compassion and understanding is a necessary key is the discipline of Native Studies. For instance, many of my Aboriginal
students are mature students, some are
single mothers; most are dealing with
unresolved personal issues. Many come
with low self-esteem, uncertainty, fear
of failure—or with much expectation of
failure—and some with no knowledge of
their own history. I try to accommodate
those needs through flexible yet regular
office hours, through bi-weekly journals
to help the students reflect on what they
are learning and through scaffolding
instruction (cf. Bruner) like research
presentations. In addition, my tests are
reflective of Bloom’s taxonomy: the
first test is usually knowledge based, the
second has some comprehension-based
questions, and the third test is a mix of
the first two levels intertwined with application and even some reflection. This
gives the students a chance to recall, learn
and identify their own knowledge. Finally,
like the many different lessons I learn
from my time in the bush, I also remind
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 30
my students that I too, as a non-Aboriginal woman, am learning from them, so
their views help us all contribute to this
Crackle, snap. The firewood pops and
cracks brightly against the darkness of
the night. As I look up at the sky, filled
with thousands of stars, I recognize a few
constellations. The Big Dipper is there. So
is the little one. I try to distinguish others;
this reminds me that an effective teacher
knows that there are different types of
learners, thus multiple tools and differing
teaching strategies must be used to reach
all students. Like the stars that blend with
the moonlight above me, my lectures are
intertwined with short movie clips, role
playing, presentations, crossword puzzles
and pre-test Jeopardy games. I remember how much fun we all had when we
prepared for that first test by playing
Jeopardy! In addition, I have brought in
Ojibway medicines too so that the students can touch, smell and even celebrate
one First Nation’s tradition.
A-ha! I recognize the twin stars Castor
and Pollux! This “a-ha” moment is also
one I enjoy seeing on the student’s face
when a complex theoretical idea was just
understood through a concrete, life-based
example. I recall when I attempted to
explain the “civ/sav dichotomy”—what
better way than through the famous
Twilight franchise? The contrasting
pictures of civilized Edward-the-Vampire
against the scantily clad and savage
Jacob-the-Werewolf was one that most
Aboriginal men in the class could relate
As I approach my destination, I recall the
things I have learned and continue to learn
in my journey, both in the boreal forest and
as a new teacher.
to. And my tough bargaining skills from
the Canadian fur-trade era were really
helpful to the students in understanding
the economic market system of the time...
Articulated through ‘plain language,’ I
strive to make my explanations accessible and I always welcome questions
and challenges. A-ha, I finally found the
teapot-looking constellation, but I forget
the actual name… I am turning in for
the night.
The next morning I awaken to light
rain; I gather up my things quickly and
begin my trek. Walking fast, the raindrops
drip down the side of my nose and tickle
me. I laugh. I like to laugh, which is why I
often employ humour in my lectures. As
my “hook” at the beginning of each class,
I tend to tell a joke, have a guest lecturer
or play a video of a stand-up comedian.
All these are carefully selected and there
is a lesson to be learned from each. The
students really enjoy this and I, too, get to
laugh. I think that students are meant to
have fun in university; but I also believe
that they should work hard, be organized
and respect deadlines.
Drip, drip, splat! Yes, every student
can succeed in university, but motivating them to stay there and learn, is partly
my responsibility. Ultimately, I believe
Certification in Higher Education
Teaching (CHET)
University Teaching Services, in collaboration with the Faculty of Graduate
Studies, offers the CHET program which supports graduate students as they
prepare for the full range of academic responsibilities, as well as helping them
to develop skills needed for non-academic careers. There are four mandatory
components to the CHET program, where upon completion students will
receive a formal certificate and have the credential indicated on their official
transcript. Graduates of the program attest to a greater confidence in their
teaching ability, and are better prepared for their future endeavours.
31 Teaching
ResearchLIFE || winter
spring 2013
I can impact motivation by engaging
them through humour, different learning
activities and relevance [to their lives].
Drip drip.
As I approach my destination, I recall
the things I have learned and continue to
learn in my journey, both in the boreal
forest and as a new teacher. The little
successes I have achieved are because I
was prepared, well-instructed, and have
learned by trial and error. As with any
form of learning, mistakes are made;
but an effective teacher will learn from
them and self-reflect. Yes, I have come to
the conclusion that an effective teacher
not only engages in scholarship of their
relative discipline, but also recognizes
that students learn best when they can
interact, participate, ask questions and
be challenged. I know they like to laugh
and joke too! I also realize that some like
pictures and games and that many need
to receive feedback on their work. And
I definitely know that they like to learn
something about themselves. They told
me just like I am telling you. And one day,
you will tell to someone else your journey
about learning. Or you can always tell
them mine. n
Agnieszka Pawlowska completed her MA
at the University of Manitoba; she earned
a BA from McGill University. Her research
interests include issues in colonization
and imperialism and how these relate
to self-determination, land rights and
the management of natural resources.
Her doctoral work with Poplar River First
Nation examines sustainable community
economic development and the establishment of a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. Agnieszka has been teaching for two
years and she greatly enjoys working with
students and collaborating with them to
enhance their knowledge and perceptions about Native Studies.
Online Learning
There is a lot of talk these days in the
media and on university campuses
about MOOCs, blended learning,
hybrid learning, flipped courses,
emerging technologies for learning
and the like. At the University of Manitoba
we, too have noticed an upsurge of interest,
discussion and debate about these matters
from the Board of Governors on down.
One of the challenges is terminology. What exactly do we
mean by online learning? What is the difference between a
blended course and a hybrid course? One way of sorting out the
terms we use for e-learning is to arrange them on a continuum
with fully face-to-face at one end and fully online at the other.
Moving from left to right—from fully face-to-face to fully
online—the first key transition is the point at which online
learning activities are a required course component, not just
optional. The second key transition is the point at which the
amount of class-time is reduced. A flipped course is an example
of a course with a required online component and, if class time
is reduced, is also an example of a hybrid course. These days
distance education is largely synonymous with online learning
but may still involve the use of other media.
Front and centre: Dr. Bret Nickels, Content Specialist
and Instructor for the Distance Education course
NATV 1220. Other team members, left to right: Nancy
Wheeldon (Copyright Specialist), Kelsey Loewen
(Multi-Media Specialist), Danielle Babcock (Online
Learning Support Specialist), Corey Roberts (Quality
Assurance Specialist), Mehdi Niknam (Instructional
Technologist), Kathy Snow (Instructional Designer).
Each of the transitions involves profound changes in the
shape of teaching and learning and raises important issues
around accessibility, the quality of interaction, the level of
engagement, the integrity of assessment and the need for new
support services, to name a few.
For an individual faculty member, the move from face-to-face
to online teaching represents an increase in complexity in both
practical and pedagogical terms and, because of this, can be very
labour intensive. Universities across the country provide different levels of training and support for faculty who want to move
online. At some universities faculty are offered some initial training on how to use a learning management system but are then
more or less on their own. Some universities have faculty-based
instructional technologists who provide assistance with technology, while others have assembled a team of specialized personnel
to tackle the complexities of online learning.
The Distance and Online Education unit within the Division
of Extended Education is a good example of the latter approach.
The team approach brings together a range of e-learning specialists to assist faculty in the design, development and delivery of
their online course. The team includes experts in learning design,
instructional technology, digital media, and copyright management with years of experience supporting teachers teaching and
students learning online.
For more information visit umanitoba.ca/distance n
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 32
on the horizon
not your average
science class
by SEan Moore
and andrea
Renowned science education program inspires students
from Saskatchewan and Manitoba
From June 2-7, 2013 seventeen Indigenous
high school students from Winnipeg,
Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan
will arrive on the Fort Garry Campus to
experience the thrill of doing exploratory
research first-hand.
It’s part of the Verna J. Kirkness Science
Education Program. Grade 11 high schools
students representing First Nations, Metis
and Inuit communities, will work in pairs
with a post-doctoral fellow or graduate
student, experiencing trailblazing research
first-hand. The students will also stay in
residence while here to further immerse
themselves in the U of M’s unique culture.
This program creates fun opportunities
for students to engage in research and
experience life on campus. The program’s
goal is to further excite the students’
interest in pursuing science and research
at university, and in making a positive
difference in their home communities.
“Education has a transformative power
for students, their families and their
communities,” said Dr. David T. Barnard,
33 TeachingLIFE | spring 2013
president and vice-chancellor. “It is our
honour to partner with the Verna J. Kirkness Foundation so that First Nation, Metis
and Inuit students can experience and
be inspired by laboratory science.”
Verna Kirkness, the program’s namesake,
is an alumna three times over, having
completed her BA, BEd and MEd at the
U of M. She is a member of the Fisher River
Cree Nation, and a member of the Order
of Manitoba and Order of Canada. She is
a national leader in education in Canada
who has inspired countless students and
educators in both Aboriginal and nonAboriginal communities.
The students in this year’s program
are coming from Winnipeg, communities
throughout Manitoba’s Frontier School
Division, Fisher River Cree Nation, Peguis
First Nation and Saskatchewan.
Indigenous Achievement, Office of the
President is a sponsor of the event and nine
faculty members are hosting the students
in their laboratories. They include: Nancy
Ames (Richardson Centre for Functional
Foods and Nutraceuticals), Eric Bibeau (mechanical & manufacturing engineering),
Annemieke Farenhorst (soil science), James
Friel (human nutritional sciences), Norman Halden (geological sciences), Witold
Kinser (electrical & computer engineering),
Juliette Mammei (physics & astronomy),
Elizabeth Ready (kinesiology & recreation
management), and Barbara Sharanowski
“The students are not the only ones who
benefit from this program. The mentors
(the professors, graduate students, and
post-doctoral fellows) relish the opportunity to give back to the community and
to witness the students’ excitement and
wonder of doing research for the first time,”
said Dr. Ron Woznow, the founder of the
Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation.
For more information, please visit Indigenous Connect: umanitoba.ca/indigenous n
Daniel Gwozdz
Health care professionals participating in a
simulated, high-risk obstetrical emergency.
First, do no harm
By Melni Ghattora
The translation of the Latin phrase
Primum non nocere is “first, do no
harm” or “above all, do no harm” and
is an oath taken by medical doctors
the world over. It remains a foundation in current medical practice.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine
brought national and international focus
to the issue of patient safety with the
release of “To Err is Human: Building a
Safer Health System.” The statistics were
disturbing—70% of mistakes in medicine
were due to human error. Canada took
notice and accelerated plans to improve
education and training for health
In 2012, the University of Manitoba
and the Women’s Health Program
(WRHA) joined forces and launched the
Inter-professional High-Risk Obstetrical Simulation training program. The
joint initiative brings together health care
professionals in Winnipeg who work in
obstetrical settings (midwives, nurses,
doctors, residents) to learn in the Faculty
of Medicine’s Clinical Learning and
Simulation Facility.
The program was developed by: Maggie
Ford, associate director of the Centre for
the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (previously with the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology); Christine Finn-
bogason, WRHA nurse educator in the
Women’s Health Program; and Marshall
Tenenbein, assistant professor of anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine.
“The intention of this project is
ultimately to improve patient care and
outcomes by increasing effective
communication of healthcare teams as
well as building clinical confidence,’ says
Ford. “Every member of the team has a
critical role to play in these life and death
situations: their confidence in themselves
and their colleagues is enhanced by this
training, we expect, will have positive impacts in the ‘real-life’ emergency situations.”
“We’re taking people who’ve been doing
their jobs for years and bringing them
to the Clinical Learning and Simulation
Facility and exposing them to new crisis
resource management techniques,”
explains Tenenbein. The simulation
training is immersive for the participants
providing “realistic” situations they have
and will encounter in care settings,
without any risk of harming the patient.
The health care professionals who
participate in the sessions take part in
two simulated, high-risk obstetrical emergencies: the scenarios remain unknown
until they begin the simulation. After each
scenario, a group de-brief takes place with
a 45-minute interactive education session
before the second simulation.
“We are trying to determine if by
having an intervention between the two
simulations, do we see a difference in
the behaviour of the team in the second
scenario? That’s just part of the research,”
Ford explains.
Team performance, communication and
cohesion in the two simulations are evaluated from reviewing the video recorded
sessions, using a validated assessment
tool (Global Assessment of Obstetric
Team Performance). After the session, at
one and six-month intervals, the participants are surveyed again to see if they’ve
experienced a difference in the way they
work with people; how they communicate;
how they feel about voicing their opinion
within the team; and their confidence
when it comes to situations that may have
intimidated them in the past.
“Simulation has strengths over simple
didactic presentations in that it is trialing
and testing the actual interaction between
the team members. It also meets the
inter-professional education goal of learning from, with and about each other,” says
Margaret Morris, head of the obstetrics
department in the Faculty of Medicine
and medical director of the WRHA
Women’s Health Program. n
spring 2013 | TeachingLIFE 34
Above:Students interacting with Elder-in-Residence Florence Paynter at Migizii Agamik (Bald Eagle Lodge).
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