University of Waterloo Teaching and Learning Conference 2017 Session Descriptions

Session Descriptions

100s | 200s | 300s | 400s | Poster Presentations

Session 100s: 10:30 am - 11:25 am

Link to session descriptions: 101, 102103104a, 104b, 105a, 105b, 106a, 106b

Session 101 – PANEL DISCUSSION – Cultivating Curiosity and Care on the Threshold

Carmen Bruni, Math   
Shannon Dea, Philosophy
Robert Gorbet, Knowledge Integration
Barbara Moffatt, Biology
Gordon Stubley, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Julie Timmermans, University of Otago

Diane Williams, School of Public Health & Health Systems

Curiosity comes from the Latin cura, or care. Put simply, to be curious is to employ a certain kind of care. Curiosity involves then a commingling of thinking and feeling. In this panel, members of an unusual UW Faculty Learning Community will share discoveries and insights about pedagogical curiosity and care in and across disciplines.

Since late 2015, six instructors from a range of academic ranks and representing each UW Faculty have been working together and with a member of the Centre for Teaching Excellence to articulate ‘threshold concepts’ within their disciplines (Meyer & Land, 2003) – transformative ideas that are sometimes troublesome for students. Learning community members have been developing teaching and learning strategies to help students cross these thresholds. The instructors come from a range of backgrounds, and, as might be imagined, they initially described very different threshold concepts.

As their work together proceeded, however, the instructors began (to their surprise) to converge on themes connected to caring. What do disciplinary experts care about? Do students care about the right things? Do students care enough about disciplinary norms? How can faculty members share their intense commitment (caring) to design meaningful experiments, and how is that caring manifested in good experimental design? Can faculty members do more to help students care about course content and capacities, so that they persist through difficulties? What role should affective outcomes (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) – outcomes associated with care – play in course and program design, even in disciplines such as engineering and math where such outcomes are rarely discussed?

In this session, each panelist will introduce his/her threshold concept and discuss how it reflects both curiosity and care. Participants will have the opportunity to identify a threshold concept in their own fields and explore how it might be related to care.


Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D.R. (2001). A Taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York, NY: Longman.

Meyer, J.H.F., & Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving student learning: Improving student learning theory and practice—Ten years on (pp. 412–424). Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

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Session 102 - WORKSHOP – Are You Curious about Which Professional Skills You Already Have Embedded into Your Courses?

Stephanie Verkoeyen, Environment
Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Drama & Speech Communication
Jill Tomasson Goodwin, Drama & Speech Communication
Katherine Lithgow, Centre for Teaching Excellence

According to the Globe and Mail (15 January 2017), Ontario’s Liberal government will “begin negotiations with the province’s universities that will ultimately lead to a higher portion of funds being linked to each institution’s outcomes, such as graduation or employment rates.” There is increasing recognition that graduates’ professional skills are key to employment rates (Drummond and Rosenbluth, 2015; McKinsey and Company, 2015; Weingarten, 2016).

All university courses expect students to use professional skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, leadership, personal initiative, and responsibility, when completing course work. Indeed, the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents identified ‘communication skills’ and ‘autonomy and professional capacity’ as part of Ontario’s Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations. Most of us, however, do not recognize the ways in which, nor the extent to which, these skills are embedded into our courses. Even fewer of us feel confident that we could explain to students how these skills relate to their course work.

Recognizing that we expect our students to exercise such professional skills, this interactive workshop aims to start the conversation about making them more explicit to ourselves, and to our students. Drawing on the WatCV research project’s best practices, we will work together through a process of:

  1. Deconstructing your course syllabus to identify where these skills are used;
  2. Drafting learning outcomes to make these skills explicit;
  3. Discussing the next steps of assignment design, with examples from UWaterloo courses

Note: in order to get the most out of this workshop, please bring a course syllabus with you to the session.


Drummond, D., and Kachuck Rosenbluth, E. (2015). Competencies Can Bridge the Interests of Business and Universities. Education Policy Research Initiative. Working Paper No. 2015-02.

McKinsey and Company (2015). Youth in Transition: Bridging Canada’s path from education to employment

Weingarten, H. P. (2016). Postsecondary education and jobs: It’s a question of skills. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

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Session 103 – PANEL DISCUSSION – Online Teaching and Learning: From Curious Questioner to Proud Proponent

Dina Meunier, Centre for Extended Learning
Paul Wehr, Psychology
Kelly Anthony, School of Public Health & Health Systems
Brian Forrest, Pure Mathematics
Edwin Ng, Renison University College

Many faculty come to online teaching with a multitude of questions:

  • How will I do what I do so well in the classroom, online?
  • How will I convey my enthusiasm to my students if I can't see them?
  • How will I teach the key concepts effectively with technology?
  • How will I know if my students are energized or struggling to keep up?

These are valid concerns and they express the genuine desire of our faculty to create an engaging and responsive learning environment; one that helps the student explore the discipline in ways that satisfy their own curiosity and develop their own critical view of it.

Join us for this lively panel discussion where new and experienced Waterloo online teaching faculty will share their online development and teaching stories, tackling these initial questions but also going beyond them to describe what they discovered about themselves as teachers and about their students in the online environment.

Panel members will touch on themes such as their changing assumptions about teaching, the role of technology in promoting (or distracting from) a healthy dialogue of inquiry, and how they infused their own, ongoing curiosities about their discipline in the online space. Panel members will also discuss online design and teaching techniques that created a responsive online space for learning.

This will be a free flowing discussion. Panel members will respond to questions posed by the panel facilitator but also interact with one another. Audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions for the panel in the last portion of the session.

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104a – PRESENTATION - Building Curiosity: Ways to Get Introductory Biology Students to ask “What if?”, “How?”, and “Why”?

Sanja Hinic-Frlog, Biology, University of Toronto
Christoph Richter, Biology, University of Toronto
Fiona Rawle, Biology, University of Toronto
Steven Chatfield, Biology, University of Toronto

In this presentation we will describe and showcase ways in which we ignite and build curiosity in students in core biology courses in the first two years and a third year lab course. We will discuss a “curiosity building framework” that bridges learning outcomes with curiosity-building interventions. In the introductory semester, we use case studies, “what if” questions, “make connections” questions, and inquiry-based activities to get students to engage with the material. Two years ago our first year teaching space was completely redesigned to encourage collaboration among students and interaction with content. In response, the activities in the second semester of the first year were restructured so that groups of students begin by exploring a topic, then develop explanations for observations and finally, discuss connections beyond their observations together. In second year we begin courses with showcase videos that stimulate student inquiry about lecture topics. Students then explore these topics through classroom response systems with the goal to answer their initial questions about the video. In our third year course, rather than following prescriptive instructions, students explore a larger question, break it down, develop hypotheses and then design appropriate ways to test these hypotheses. Students in this course can also develop project strategies and explore the utility of long-term and difficult approaches to answering questions in an active-learning setting. We will discuss how we integrate these activities into our curriculum map to develop a curiosity building framework and how this methodology can be applied in other fields of study.

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104b –  PRESENTATION - Promoting Curiosity in Students using a Design Theory Approach

Sarah McLean, Physiology & Pharmacology, Western University

Developing scientific curiosity is a key learning outcome for undergraduate science students. However, some typical scientific pedagogical approaches, such as writing laboratory reports, leave little room for curiosity and creativity. In this practice-based presentation, participants will learn the benefits of employing design theory for creating innovative assessments that can work across disciplines.

The design theory approach positions students as designers, and is an iterative process that consists of imagining, creating, playing, sharing, and reflecting (Brennan and Resnick, 2013). This process allows students to identify a problem, work towards a solution, and share their innovation with their peers. This format has been adopted for a novel capstone assignment in a fourth-year undergraduate science course, called the "Dragon's Den Assignment". Students work in groups to conceive of a new therapeutic, diagnostic, or public-health campaign to help with the treatment/public-awareness of an inflammatory disease. They then compile their design into a proposal and share with their classmates through an oral, "3 minute thesis style" pitch.

In this session, participants will learn about the core principles of the design process, and how design relates to the pedagogical theories of constructivism and constructionism. They will then learn of a practice-based approach for developing a collaborative design project. Finally, participants will hear reflections from students who partook in the "Dragon's Den project" and reflect on how such an approach could be used for their own practice.

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. List and provide examples for the five components of the design process.
  2. Relate how the design process can be used to foster creativity and collaboration among students.
  3. Highlight advantages and challenges of using a design-based approach for assessment.

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105a – PRESENTATION - Being Curious About Where We Teach: Studying the Teaching Culture at the University of Waterloo

Donna E. Ellis, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Kristin M. Brown, School of Public Health & Health Systems
Ken N. Meadows, Teaching Support Centre, Western University

In Fall 2016, we investigated how University of Waterloo students, instructors, and staff perceived the teaching culture at our institution. Institutional culture consists of embedded behaviours, values, and beliefs, and within the educational context, these elements help to create and explain instructor and learner experiences (Kezar & Eckel, 2002). University teaching culture reflects our environment and can positively influence students’ learning (Cox, McIntosh, Reason, & Terenzini, 2011), engagement (Grayson & Grayson, 2003), and persistence (Berger & Braxton, 1998). However, there is little research on university teaching culture and no existing large-scale surveys to assess cultural indicators regarding teaching.

At this session, we will present preliminary findings from the University of Waterloo implementation of a SSHRC-funded study being conducted by a research team from nine Canadian universities. The team developed three Teaching Culture Perception Surveys – one each for instructors, students, and staff – based on a framework of institutional indicators that support quality teaching (Hénard & Roseveare, 2012). To date, the surveys have been tested at five Ontario universities, and the Waterloo study contributes to on-going instrument validation. Ultimately, the surveys developed through this project are intended to assess institutional teaching culture over time, and the results will help to guide institutions when making changes to enhance how teaching is valued.

For this study, all instructors teaching in Fall 2016, all staff supporting teaching and learning, all graduate students, and a random sample of 5,000 second- and third-year undergraduate students on main campus were invited to participate in November 2016. 630 undergraduate students, 911 graduate students, 241 faculty, and 113 staff participated in the survey. At this presentation, we will share an overview of key findings and invite questions that emerge from the results as we seek to heighten our collective curiosity about this place where we teach.


Berger, J.B. & Braxton, J.M. (1998). Revising Tinto’s interactionalist theory of student departure through theory elaboration: Examining the role of organizational attributes in the persistence process. Research in Higher Education, 39(2), 103–119.

Cox, B.E., McIntosh, K.L., Reason, R.D., & Terenzini, P.T. (2011). A culture of teaching: Policy, perception, and practice in higher education. Research in Higher Education, 52(8), 808–829.

Grayson, J.P. & Grayson, K. (2003). Research on retention and attrition (No. 6). Montreal: The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

Hénard, F. & Roseveare, D. (2012). Fostering quality teaching in higher education: Policies and practices. France: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Kezar, A.J. & Eckel, P.D. (2002). The effect of institutional culture on change strategies in higher education: Universal principles or culturally responsive concepts? The Journal of Higher Education, 73(4), 435–460.

Kustra, E., Doci, F., Gillard, K., Discke Hondzel, C., Goff, L., Gabay, D., Meadows, K., N., Borin, P., Wolf, P., Ellis, D., Eiliat, H., Grose, J., Dawson, D., & Hughes, S. (2015). Teaching Culture Perception: Documenting and Transforming Institutional Teaching Cultures. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching. 8, 231-244.

Kustra, E., Doci, F., Meadows, K., N., Dawon, D., Dishke Honzel, C., Goff, L., Gabay, D., Wolf, P., Ellis, D., Grose, J., Borin, P., & Hughes, S. (2014). Teaching culture indicators: Enhancing quality teaching. Report to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Productivity and Innovation Fund Program, University of Windsor, Ontario.

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105b – PRESENTATION - What should we do about laptops in classroom? A Survey of Behaviours and Attitudes in AHS

Christine Zaza, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Elena Neiterman, School of Public Health & Health Systems

In today’s university classroom, students bring their computers, tablets, and phones to class. While these technological tools can enhance learning, they can also distract students and instructors (Sana et al., 2013) and negatively impact learning (Junco & Cotton, 2012; Lee et al., 2012; Wood et al., 2012).

Our curiosity about students’ and instructors’ attitudes and behaviours regarding students’ use of technology in class led us to survey faculty and undergraduate students in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) in Fall, 2016. In total, 478 students and 36 instructors responded to the survey which measured behaviours, knowledge, and attitudes regarding students’ use of technology in class. Students’ self-reported use of technology during class for class-related and non-class-related purposes was higher in large classes compared with medium-sized or small classes. Instructors reported using various strategies to limit technology-related distractions in class including talking to students about the issue, including a written statement in the syllabus, and designated seating. In total, 68% of students and 87% of instructors and agreed that students’ use of technology for non- class-related purposes in class hinders other students’ ability to do well in the course. In addition, 17% of students and 36% of instructors agreed with the statement that students’ use of technology in class is a problem; however, 27% of students and 53% of instructors neither agreed nor disagreed with that statement. Approximately one-third of instructors reported being bothered by students’ use of laptops or tablets in class whereas two-thirds of instructors reported being bothered by students’ use of phones in class.

In this session we will describe additional findings from these surveys. This session relates to the conference theme of curiosity by addressing questions related to how students learn.


Junco, R., & Cotton, S.R. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59, 505-514.

Lee, J., Lin, L., & Robertson, T. (2012). The impact of media multitasking on learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 37(1), 94-104.

Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N.J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers & Education, 24-31.

\Wood, E., Zivcakova, L., Gentile, P., Archer, K., De Pasquale, D., & Nosko, Am. (2012). Examining the impact of off-task multi-tasking with technology on real-time classroom learning. Computers & Education, 365-374.

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106a – PRESENTATION - Making the most out of the second half: Revisiting workplace and academic goals through midterm reflection

Victoria Feth, Waterloo Professional Development program
Evana Delay, Waterloo Professional Development program

The Waterloo Professional Development Program (WatPD) offers online courses that enhance students’ soft skills development concurrently with their work experiences. WatPD hires co-op students each term as TAs. An Instructional Support Coordinator (ISC) supervises each TA. ISCs ensure that TAs are engaged with – effectively curious about – WatPD’s mandate to enhance students’ soft skills, by increasing TAs’ awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses. If TAs care about their professional development, they will be better equipped to engage passionately with their students and speak as ambassadors of WatPD on and off the job.

ISCs must be curious about our TAs’ learning, motivations, and goals in order for them to invest in their own professional development. To be truly curious about WatPD’s mandate is to commit to lifelong learning, as opposed to an “Outstanding” work term evaluation. Over the 10-year life of the program, ISCs have engaged TAs in goal setting activities. We found that goal setting at the beginning of a work term (before TAs know the basics of their jobs) can lead to vague goals that require revision, so we developed a system to be introduced after midterm evaluations. The results of the Midterm Reflection, completed by eight TAs under the same ISC in Fall 2016, were encouraging, clearly signaling TAs’ commitment to their four-month workplace and lifelong learning. In Winter 2017, three ISCs are applying this Midterm Reflection with some minor changes.

We share the Midterm Reflection, its strengths and weaknesses. We describe its applicability to anyone working with students-as-employees, but also to anyone interested in promoting soft skills development within the classroom. We hope to hear stories and ideas from others doing similar activities. Participants will leave with a copy of the Midterm Reflection and an idea for how to implement it in their own work.


John R. Kirby, Christopher Knapper, Patrick Lamon & William J. Egnatoff (2010) Development of a scale to measure lifelong learning, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 29:3, 291-302, DOI: 10.1080/02601371003700584

Drewery, D., Pennaforte, A., Pretti, (2016, June 15). Lifelong learning and cooperative education. Paper presented at the World Association of Cooperative and Work-integrated Education International Research Symposium, Victoria, Canada. Retrieved from:

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106b – PRESENTATION- Ownership of Learning and Labour Through Experiential Education

Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language & Literature

This practice-focused and theory-driven presentation considers experiential education. Co-operative education is one form of experiential learning, a practice by which students learn through solving problems beyond the classroom. Experiential learning can also happen in conjunction with classroom and curriculum-based learning, such as having your students produce marketing materials or budgets for a non-profit in the community. In this presentation I will use an exemplary case of one course I recently taught where students were able to engage in experiential learning with two high tech firms.

The talk will first introduce the theoretical underpinnings of experiential education and learning. I then turn to a specific example of my course. The majority of this talk is focused on implementation and practice in applying experiential learning. For instance, how, as an instructor, does working with industry require us to consider pedagogical alignment between curriculum-based learning and experiential learning? Also, how do we ask students to consider the labour they are performing? I use an example of working with high tech companies on open source projects to explore this issue.

I ultimately aim to demonstrate that experiential learning generates curiosity in our students by encouraging them to intentionally consider what learning means, and how the reciprocal relationship between theory and praxis can be applied to encourage lifelong learning. Further, I argue that the material conditions of experiential learning—performing work and stepping outside an educational institution—generates an enormous degree of curiosity and thought about how the relationship between learning and movement into the labour force is understood. This is particularly important as models of un(der)paid internships and other “opportunities” proliferate, as higher education is asked to prove job outcomes, and as students struggle with debt, marginal incomes, and the almost insurmountable challenges of homeownership, family planning, and negotiating a precarious labour market.


Aristotle. (1980). The Nicomachean ethics. Ross, W. D., & Urmson, J. O, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dewey, J. (2007). Experience and education. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson FT Press.

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Session 200s: 11:35 am - 12:30 pm

Link to session descriptions: 201202, 203, 204a, 204b, 205a, 205b, 206a, 206b

201 – PANEL DISCUSSION – Tech Art: An Interdisciplinary Project-Based Course for Engineers and Artists

Brandon DeHart, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Lois Andison, Fine Arts
Rob Gorbet, Knowledge Integration

Curiosity, in both teachers and learners, lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach to education and research. By bringing together the language, skills, and tools of multiple disciplines to examine and evaluate intersecting fields, this approach enables us to maximize the potential for new insights and deeper levels of thinking.

In this session, we will introduce a truly interdisciplinary course on “Tech Art”, which brings together students and faculty from Engineering and Fine Arts to explore their mutual curiosity for each others’ disciplines in a project-based learning environment. The creation, development, and implementation of this course will be described at a high level, with an emphasis on how the mixing of disciplines has benefited both us, as teachers, and our students.

In this course, we encourage the students to expand their knowledge and skills through interdisciplinary collaborative group projects. These projects require strong skills from both disciplines, across all three domains of classical Bloom's Taxonomy (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor), requiring the students to further explore both their own field and those of their peers. Completed projects undergo critical peer analysis from both disciplines, and students reflect on their successes and failures in implementation and collaboration.

Using this course as a case study, we will discuss how interdisciplinary courses benefit from, and encourage, curiosity in those involved. Participants are encouraged to examine their own disciplines for opportunities to collaborate, and to consider other fields that they may be curious about working with. To facilitate this discussion, our panel will include several of the instructors and students (past and present) of the course, representing a variety of disciplines and experiences. The panel will focus on three main threads: how the course came about, what pedagogical practices worked well (or not), and lessons learned to help attendees start/grow their own interdisciplinary courses.


A. Weinberg and C. Harding, "Interdisciplinary Teaching and Collaboration in Higher Education: A Concept Whose Time Has Come", 14 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 15 (2004)

Spelt, E.J.H., Biemans, H.J.A., Tobi, H. et al. "Teaching and Learning in Interdisciplinary Higher Education: A Systematic Review", Educ Psychol Rev (2009) 21: 365.

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Session 202 – WORKSHOP - Tackling sexism and gender bias in academic environments

Amanda Garcia, Systems Design Engineering
Lauren Hayward Sierens, Science

Sexism and gender bias are, unfortunately, common experiences for women on university campuses. Facing these types of discrimination has been shown to result in negative academic outcomes, decreased motivation, and lowered self-confidence in female students. Research has shown that a range of systemic factors including stereotype threat, implicit/explicit gender bias, and “chilly” classroom environments conspire to undermine female students’ curiosity and excitement about their studies. As a result, women are consistently underrepresented in many academic fields, and this gender gap becomes more striking as one moves along the academic career path from student to professor. Such underrepresentation is particularly prevalent within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where statistics have shown that females occupy less than 20% of upper-level faculty positions. Course instructors are well poised to be part of the solution by creating and fostering an inclusive space in their classrooms. This interactive workshop explores the issues of implicit/explicit gender bias, underrepresentation, sexism and stereotype threat within the university context; although the focus of the workshop is on the classroom environment, broader systemic interventions will also be discussed. Participants will learn to describe the effects of gender bias on students, to identify sexism and gender bias in their many forms, and to apply a range of strategies to create and promote an inclusive and encouraging university environment. The workshop will emphasize group discussions and activities; individuals from all disciplines are welcome to attend.


Tess L. Killpack and Laverne C. Melón, Toward inclusive STEM classrooms: What personal role do faculty play?, CBE Life Sciences Education 15 (2016), no. 3.

David M. Sadker and Karen Zittleman, Practical Strategies for Detecting and Correcting Gender Bias in Your Classroom, ch. 8, pp. 259–273, Taylor & Francis, 2012. E. A.

Gunderson, G. Ramirez, S. C. Levine and S. L. Beilock, The role of parents and teachers in the development of gender-related math attitudes. Sex Roles, 66(3–4):153– 166 (2012).

J. R. Shapiro and A. M. Williams, The role of stereotype threats in undermining girls’ and women’s performance and interest in STEM fields. Sex Roles, 66(3–4): 175–183 (2012).

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203 – PANEL DISCUSSION - Increasing the Visibility of Skills Development in Graduate Education: The Skills Awareness and Articulation (SKAATR) Module

Christine Kampen Robinson, Co-operative Education & Career Action
Kristin M. Brown, School of Public Health & Health Systems
Meghan Riley, English Language & Literature
Faith-Anne Wagler, Applied Health Sciences Graduate Studies
Erica Refling, Co-operative Education & Career Action

Graduate students experience challenges conveying the range of skills they have acquired during their studies to non-academic employers (1), and communicating their fit and experience to academic employers. Hence, several sources, including the Conference Board of Canada, recommend graduate students take part in professional development activities, such as “supplemental initiatives" (1-3).

The Skills Awareness and Articulation Training (SKAATR) module was developed by the University of Waterloo Centre for Career Action to enhance graduate students’ skills articulation. The program has been piloted in 7 graduate classes in the Faculty of Arts and Applied Health Sciences since Fall 2015. Through workshops and reflection exercises, SKAATR enables participants to recognize and articulate the skills they are utilizing in their graduate studies.

The SKAATR module fits within an integrative learning model, in which the seemingly disconnected elements of the university experience are integrated to better prepare students for both personal and professional activities (4). Moreover, it incorporates engaged learning practices by providing systematic opportunities for students to reflect on how they can apply what they learn in their coursework beyond their degree, aligning with the University of Waterloo Graduate Degree Level Expectations (5,6).

This session will explore how the classroom can provide an environment to encourage graduate students’ curiosity about the skills they are developing, using SKAATR as a case study. The panel will include graduate student and faculty participants, the developer of SKAATR, and a SKAATR facilitator. Panelists will share their experiences and perceived outcomes from integrating SKAATR into graduate courses.

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

i) Recognize the value of skills articulation for graduate students; and,

ii) Identify ways instructors can support graduate students in articulating the skills they are developing in their studies.


(1) Edge, J. & Munro, D. (2015). Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing PHDs for Careers. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada.

(2) Fuhrman, C. N., Halme, D. G., O’Sullivan, P. S., & Lindsteadt, B. (2011). Improving Graduate Education to Support a Branching Career Pipeline: Recommendations Based on a Survey of Doctoral Students in the Basic Biomedical Sciences. CBE-Life Sciences Education. 10, 239-249.

(3) Rose, M. (2012). Graduate Student Professional Development: A Survey with Recommendations. Retrieved from

(4) University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence. (n.d.) Integrative Learning. Retrieved from

(5) University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence. (n.d.) High Impact Practices (HIPs) or Engaged Learning Practices. Retrieved from

(6) University of Waterloo. (2010). Graduate Degree Level Expectations. Retrieved from

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204a – PRESENTATION - Psychology and math: a curious pairing

Michelle Ashburner, Psychology and Dean of Math Office

How do we promote curiosity about teaching and learning within ourselves and amongst our students? Just as wine’s flavour can be enhanced by the right food pairing, any undergraduate course curriculum may be made more engaging by introducing external research and applications. In my time as a lecturer of undergraduate math students, I have witnessed a positive effect on engagement that occurs when I introduce research results from cognitive science. Why is this? Cognitive science research offers all kinds of applications to effective study and training techniques, which can be immediately implemented by all students, regardless of program. A second valuable benefit of introducing cross-disciplinary research is to show the connections that exist between two seemingly distinct areas of study, thereby encouraging students to research topics that are of interest to them and form their own connections.

This talk will focus on a few interesting results in cognition, with references that can be posted to your learner’s online platform. We will touch upon increasing retention in lectures, effective and ineffective methods of learning, and research related to our HeForShe campaign to increase representation of females in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers. We will even do some experimental psychology of our own!

Our question and discussion period will help us to cement take-away points from the talk, which can be readily applied to your subject(s) of instruction. Finally, we will test the speaker’s effectiveness at keeping everyone's attention with a short (and friendly!) competition for a prize.

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204b – PRESENTATION - Narrative Mathematics as a Tool for Cultivating Curiosity and a Sense of Purpose

Vicki Jingjing Zhang, Statistical Sciences, University of Toronto

This presentation will focus on the design and implementation of “narrative mathematics” in a second-year, large-classroom actuarial mathematics course: Introduction to Life Contingency Models. My inspiration came from reading on various successful implementation of narrative in the medicine education (Greenhalgh 1999, Larry 2006, Cushing 2012) as well as the increasing reference to story-telling and performance arts in math education (Katherine 2010). The pedagogical innovation focuses on two main areas: narrative mathematics and utilizing mix media to enhance active learning and student interaction. To spark students’ interests in the seemingly dry subject matter, I experimented with the “narrative mathematics” approach by creating an overarching story which presents itself as a central character’s obstacle course that ties together the numerous mathematical concepts covered in the course. It is similar to a “concept map” pedagogical approach but with a crafted storyline and character building. This narrative is then delivered through a mix of video clips, podcasts and still photos. The mix media platform was chosen to recognize that students have distinctively different learning styles – even more pronounced in a large classroom setting – and instructors need to be conscientious about presenting the materials in ways that accommodate different students (“a choreography of attention”).

The chief goals of this pedagogical innovation are (1) to provide students with a clear sense of relevance and an intrinsic purpose of learning (i.e. assisting a character who was deliberately crafted to be vulnerable and in need of expertise acquired in this course); (2) to provide an interesting, intuitive and memorable concept map that link a large number of mathematical concepts that may seem daunting to lower-level undergraduate students. I will share preliminary observations and findings from the first round of course offering. I will briefly discuss how other instructors may incorporate narratives in their own teaching practices.

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205a – PRESENTATION - Want to awaken curiosity in students? Stop teaching them

James Skidmore, Germanic & Slavic Studies

In the online environment, we often equate teaching with lectures and tests: pre-digested concepts are taught via narrated power-points; information is regurgitated on quizzes and exams. There is little room for curiosity in this approach because there is little room for meaningful engagement.

Discussion forums can help in this regard, though they are often thought of as add-ons. For example, CTE advocates online forums for the acquisition of discussion and writing skills and to improve participation in class ( But learning isn’t explicitly mentioned, even though studies (Wang and Chen; Garrison and Cleveland-Innes) indicate that discussions can promote deeper learning. If we accept the notion, formulated many years ago, that “the teaching of high-level concepts inevitably involves a considerable amount of discourse” (Bereiter), shouldn’t discussion forums be a key component of online courses?

This practice-based presentation outlines how discussion forums were fully integrated into two online cultural studies courses, GER 271/272. The course modules contained the usual suspects: readings, viewings, and ProfMoments (recorded presentations). But unlike standard lecture-based online courses, where discussions might take place off to the side, content items were embedded directly into discussion forums, and students were required to engage in discussions about every content item. This simple change unified content and discussions into a single whole. Review assignments replaced tests for assessing comprehension and retention, and a term project, in which course participants created their own module, allowed students to build on their curiosity by curating and presenting knowledge. Survey data indicates learner enthusiasm for this simple yet novel change.

The case will be made that the discussion focus fostered student curiosity and intellectual development not by teaching information, but by engaging students directly with course content in a manner that allowed them to explore and test their ideas.


Bereiter, C. “Referent-centred and problem-centred knowledge: Elements of an educational epistemology.” Interchange 23 (1992): 337–61.

Garrison, D. R. and M. Cleveland-Innes. “Facilitating Cognitive Presence in Online Learning: Interaction is not Enough.” American Journal of Distance Education 19 (2005): 133-48.

Wang, Y. and V. Chen. “Essential Elements in Designing Online Discussions to Promote Cognitive Presence – A Practical Experience.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 12 (2008): 157-77.

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205b – PRESENTATION - Student and Faculty Experience with Blended Learning in a First-Year Chemistry for Engineers Course

Eline Boghaert, Chemical Engineering
Jason Grove, Chemical Engineering
Marios Ioannidis, Chemical Engineering
Felicia Pantazi, Centre for Extended Learning
Mary Power, Centre for Teaching Excellence

CHE 102, Chemistry for Engineers, is an introductory chemistry course taken by most engineering students at the University of Waterloo during their first term of study. Prior to 2016, the course had always been offered in a traditional lecture format. A blended learning model was introduced in Fall 2016 in an effort to i) create time for more valuable instructor-student interaction and active learning opportunities, and ii) allow students to explore course content at their own pace, thereby, accommodating the diversity of students’ high-school chemistry preparation.

During the Fall 2016 term, nine of the twelve course sections were offered in a traditional format consisting of three hours of lectures and two hours of teaching assistant-led tutorials each week. Three sections were taught in a blended format for approximately half the course. To enable the blended learning model, content for three of the six course modules was developed online ( using the Möbius platform in collaboration with the Centre for Extended Learning and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities’ Shared Online Course Fund. Access to these online modules displaced lecture content and the instructor led problem-solving and experiential IDEAs clinic activities ( In two cases, instructors offered both the blended and traditional versions of the course to different cohorts enrolled in the same program. Short surveys were distributed electronically to all students at the start of term and at the end of each module (approximately every two weeks) to assess student experience with the most recent module.

This presentation will i) describe instructor experience both in developing and deploying online modules to support the blended learning and participating in the active learning in the tutorials, and, ii) compare and contrast student experience, satisfaction and performance between the two learning models.

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206a – Open Access Labs: A method to opening student minds

Eugene Li, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Carol Hulls, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering

Labs are a critical part of teaching and learning, as they provide an opportunity for students to actively explore the concepts that have been taught in class, while gaining hands-on skills. Ideally, they give students a deeper understanding of the relevance of the material and encourage their curiosity. However, due to restrictions on resources, such as space and time, labs are often crowded with many students attempting to hit key learning objectives in a set time frame. Faced with tight deadlines, students rush to finish the lab material, rather than take the time to explore.

In Fall 2015, a new fourth year technical elective was designed, including a lab component. As the course was new, lab time slots were not assigned, and incoming students had no prior expectations. Lab 1 was designed as a traditional lab, with students signing up for slots. However, the awkward schedules of the students caused problems. Following an open access model, used in ECE 481/484 for many years, the students were given all hours access to the lab equipment for the second lab. Care was taken so that durable, inexpensive equipment was used. This allowed the students to investigate the content in more depth and freedom to experiment with different equipment configurations. The approach received positive responses from the students, citing reduced levels of stress and increased engagement. In this term’s offering of the course, the labs have been redesigned to progressively build from one another, and are offered completely open. Presenting the progressive format provides motivation for students to truly understand the material, and to draw connections between the various aspects of the lab. The open access model works well for our course, due to its low risk nature and it being a fourth year technical elective.


Bower, K. C., Mays, T. W., & Miller, C. M. (2004). Small Group, Self-Directed Problem Based Learning Development in a Traditional Engineering Program. 34th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (pp. S1B-16 - S1B-21).

Savannah: IEEE. Douglass, C., & Morris, S. R. (2014, February). Student Perspectives on Self-directed Learning. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 14(1), 13-25. doi:10.14434/josotl.v14il.3202

Guiffrida, D. A., Lynch, M. F., Wall, A. F., & Abel, D. S. (2013, March/April). Do Reasons for Attending College Affect Academic Outcomes? A Test of a Motivational Model from a Self-Determination Perspective. Journal of College Student Development, 54(2), 121-139.

Marcé-Nogué, J., Salán, N., Aragoneses, A., Bernat, E., Escrig, C., Otero, B., . . . Illescas, S. (2012). Teaching Engineering with Autonomous Learning Tools: Good Practices in GRAPAU-RIMA. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Lenning,

O.T, Hill, D.M., Saunders, K.P., Solan, A., Stokes, A. (2013) Powerful Learning Communities: A Guide to Developing Student, Faculty, and Professional Learning Communities to Improve Student Success and Organizational Effectiveness, Stylus Publishing.

 Sitkin, Sim B. "Learning through failure: the strategy or smallvlo'sses." Research in organizational behavior 14 (1992): 231-266

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206b – Fostering leadership skills by shifting student focus from participation to contributions in a fourth year laboratory course

Nicole Campbell, Physiology and Pharmacology, Western University

Curiosity is an important component of learning; however, it can be challenging to arouse in certain educational settings. At Western University, we offer an interdisciplinary medical sciences module that includes mandatory lecture and laboratory courses in fourth year. These courses emphasize scientific inquiry and writing as well as the skillful execution of a variety of molecular and clinical laboratory techniques. One way that we have fostered curiosity in these courses is by allowing students to take on a leadership role. Curiosity is a key attribute of strong leadership and it is related to inquisitive thinking, an integral component of our program outcomes. By shifting students from participants in the classroom to contributors to their learning, students were motivated to perform at a high standard in front of their peers. Students in the laboratory course took turns providing a pre-lab presentation to their peers. This type of presentation is a common component of any lab course, and through this approach, we allowed the students to act as teachers. The instructors assigned students topics that have historically been challenging concepts or areas of confusion. The expectation is that the student pair will deliver a brief presentation, using any format as long as it is creative, engaging, and appropriate for the audience. After delivering their session, students received feedback and were asked to answer specific questions about their experience. The preliminary results of this pilot approach have been extremely promising. Most students expressed feelings of nervousness going into the exercise, but the majority indicated that it was a positive experience after it was completed. They also articulated the value of this exercise in terms of enhancing their learning. We plan to continue to use this approach with upcoming student cohorts and evaluate other skills that students have gained from the experience.

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Session 300s: 2:40 pm - 3:35 pm

Link to session descriptions: 301, 302303, 304a, 304b, 305a, 305b, 306a, 306b

Session 301 – PANEL DISCUSSION - Flipped classrooms: perspectives on fostering students' curiosity and interest in research

David Wang, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Maud Gorbet, Systems Design Engineering
Jen Boger, Systems Design Engineering

While we want to ignite student’s curiosity and wish they could make connections between concepts that are being taught across courses, the didactic lecture classroom style doesn’t always lend itself well to reach such outcomes. There is also no better way to pique the interest of students in research than engaging them in activities that mirror the exciting work that goes on in university laboratories. The free-form nature of the flipped classroom offers a path where exploration and curiosity is an integral part of the learning process.

The flipped classroom is described by Bishop and Verleger (2013) as requiring out-of-class video content and mandatory in-class interactive activities. In the 24 studies surveyed in their paper, they noted that successful implementations also used class quizzes and short videos. Herreid and Schiller (2013) noted that, out of 15000 STEM teachers, only 200 tried a flipped classroom. Pitfalls were identified as initial student resistance and the lack of available online videos, which requires instructors to create their own video content.

In this panel, different approaches to flipping a classroom (a hybrid model, flipped classroom with and without online videos) in core and elective courses will be presented as well as software tools that can be used to increase engagement and feedback (Matlab, Piazza, Kahoot, clickers) and a description of the video creation process. The panelists will discuss their approach to creating and running in-class learning activities which can engage students in research. Comparisons of students success and project completion between previous course offerings, taught in a traditional manner, and the current flipped classroom will be presented. From a first to a second time offering of a flipped classroom, the panelists will also share some of their lessons learned and their reflections on other factors such as student/instructor workload and Teaching Assistant resource


J.L. Bishop and M.A. Verleger (2013), The Flipped Classroom: A Survey of the Research, American Society for Engineering Education.

C.F. Herreid and N.A. Schiller (2013), Case Study: Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom, Journal of College Science Teaching, 42 (5) p62-67

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Session 302 – WORKSHOP – I need at least a 90% in this course”: Using mental skills training to shift students’ focus from outcomes to the learning process

Nicole Westlund Stewart, Writing Centre
Wade Wilson, Kinesiology

In the classroom, students are typically motivated by one of two goals: skill development (mastery) or showcasing their skills to others (performance; Harackiewicz et al., 2002). Students who have either a mastery focus or a combination of a mastery and performance foci with adaptive outcomes, such as positive affect (Conley, 2012). Alternatively, students who focus solely on performance goals (grades) tend to experience negative outcomes (Conley, 2012). One of the goals of university education is to not only teach students about their disciplines, but to also teach them new skills and ignite their curiosity about their disciplines. In doing this, students will be more likely to engage in the learning process and begin to make meaningful connections between their courses and real-world applications. In order to help shape students’ mindsets and ignite their curiosity, looking to the field of applied sport psychology may be worth exploring. Applied sport psychology has intrigued other non-sport domains where performance is vital, for instance, business (Jones, 2002), military (Hardy et al., 2010), performing arts (Hays, 2002), and law enforcement (Le Scanff & Taugis, 2002). Additionally, Gould (2002) advocates for applying sport psychology to other domains of performance as it allows applied sport psychology researchers and consultants to support individuals in other performance situations with their knowledge of performance enhancement.

This interactive workshop will introduce participants to four mental skills training techniques (goal setting, imagery, self-talk, and concentration) frequently used with athletes in applied sport psychology consulting. Participants will learn how to incorporate these mental skills training techniques into their classroom instruction, course content, and assignments. Participants will be given time to design ways to incorporate mental skills training techniques into their courses, with a focus on encouraging students to engage in the learning process as a stepping stone towards peak performance in the course.


Conley, A. M. M. (2012). Patterns of motivation beliefs: Combining achievement goal and expectancy-value perspectives. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 32–47. doi:10.1037/a0026042

Gould, D. (2002). Moving beyond the psychology of athletic excellence. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(4), 247–248. doi:10.1080/10413200290103536

Harackiewicz, J. M., Barron, K. E., Pintrich, P. R., Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2002). Revision of Achievement Goal Theory: Necessary and illuminating. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 638–645. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.94.3.638

Hardy, L., Arthur, C. A., Jones, G., Shariff, A., Munnoch, K., Isaacs, I., & Allsopp, A. J. (2010). The relationship between transformational leadership behaviors, psychological, and training outcomes in elite military recruits. The Leadership Quarterly, 21, 20–32. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.10.002

Hays, K. F. (2002). The enhancement of performance excellence among performing artists. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(4), 299–312. doi:10.1080/10413200290103572

Jones, G. (2002). Performance excellence: A personal perspective on the link between sport and business. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(4), 268–281. doi:10.1080/10413200290103554

Le Scanff, C., & Taugis, J. (2002). Stress management for police special forces. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14(4), 330–343. doi:10.1080/10413200290103590

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Session 303 – PANEL DISCUSSION – Digital Methods of Igniting Curiosity

Rebecca Anderson, English Language & Literature
Evelyn Deshane, English Language & Literature
Jessica Van de Kemp, English Language & Literature
Travis Morton, English Language & Literature

Our EdTech panel situates itself around Walter Ong’s use of the term “technology” as a teachable art and aims to present practical pedagogical papers expanding the types of technology that can be used in the classroom beyond the everyday use of pen/paper or Powerpoint slides. Each panelist tackles a different form of new media technology, and presents case studies, a how-to guide, or potential conflicts in using the app, game, or digital device in classroom settings.

Rebecca Anderson’s paper, “Game-Based Learning Platforms: Exploring the Potential of Multiplayer Quizzes in the Post-Secondary Classroom,” concentrates on the relationship between games and learning to examine how multiplayer quizzes (such as Quizziz) can be used as formative assessment tools to measure student-paced and group-based learning. Evelyn Deshane’s paper, “Digital Learning Exchange: Snapchat as Flashcard,” explores how the short time span of the ‘snaps’ mimics the use of traditional flashcards and, because the snaps are digital, their disappearance encourages students to recreate their learning environments on their own using new filters, snaps, and exchanges. Jessica Van de Kemp’s paper, “Digital Storytelling Tools for the Composition Classroom,” argues that posting Twitter fiction can help students during the pre-writing stage by engaging them in a collaborative storytelling game. Travis Morton’s paper, “Citation Needed: Cultivating Credible Sourcing in an Age of Fake News,” proposes that analytics modeled on Twitter can provide students with a way to assess academic source material through visual models using academic networking tools such as Research Gate, thereby helping students to understand what a ‘credible’ source can look like.

The ultimate goal of the panel is to demonstrate how learning/teaching can happen through small interactions often facilitated by differing technologies, and how these interactions can break down boundaries between teacher/student, interrogate different discourse communities, and ultimately incite curiosity for further knowledge production.

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304a –PRESENTATION - Promoting systems thinking and challenging students to tackle “wicked problems” through an interdisciplinary student case competition

Katelyn Godin, School of Public Health and Health Systems
Amanda Raffoul, School of Public Health and Health Systems

There is increasing recognition of the importance of systems thinking in addressing the “wicked problems” facing society today. Systems thinking recognizes many complex problems are shaped by dynamic and continuously changing relationships between physical, social, mental, and ecological factors (1,2,3). Recent literature has demonstrated that systems thinking is an effective approach for tackling complex social and health issues (1,2), such as obesity (4), suggesting that students and other trainees should be supported in adopting this approach to their research and practice. However, there are numerous barriers that prevent students from engaging in systems-related activities, including course curricula that examine wicked problems from one disciplinary lens, limited institutional staff and resources with training in systems orientations, and a lack of inter-departmental collaboration.

The presentation provides an overview of systems-thinking-focused teaching methods that can be applied in various disciplines and the learning and professional development benefits of these approaches.

This presentation highlights one of these approaches in practice. The Perfect Pitch is a student-organized case-style competition held at the University of Waterloo. The competition challenged students to apply systems-thinking by working in small multidisciplinary teams to develop a creative, detailed, and innovative plan for addressing a pressing obesity-related problem of today. Students were encouraged to consider diverse stakeholders and disciplines within their plan, which they presented to a panel of judges representing different sectors. The event was successful in encouraging students to engage in creative and critical thinking and collaborate with their peers in different departments, consistent with outcomes noted in previous literature on problem- and case-based learning (2,5). The presentation will also describe important challenges to systems-thinking in teaching settings, as well as plans to expand the scope of the Perfect Pitch in future years.


(1) Naaldenberg, J., Vaandrager, L., Koelen, M., Wagemakers, A. M., Saan, H., & de Hoog, K. (2009). Elaborating on systems thinking in health promotion practice. Global Health Promotion, 16(1), 39-47.

(2) Brown, V. A., Harris, J. A., & Russell, J. Y. (2010). Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination. New York, NY: Earthscan.

(3) Best, A., & Holmes, B. (2010). Systems thinking, knowledge and action: towards better models and methods. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 6(2), 145-159.

(4) Leischow S.J., Best A., Trochim W. M., Clark P. I., Gallagher R. S., Marcus S. E., Matthews E. Systems thinking to improve the public's health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008, 35(2), S196-S203.

(5) Thurman, J., Volet, S. E., & Bolton, J. R. (2009). Collaborative, case-based learning: how do students actually learn from each other? Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 36(3), 297-304.

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304b – PRESENTATION - Designing the Classroom with Ambiguity at Its Core

Sean Geobey, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development

What is the impact when, by design, neither instructor nor student knows the content of a course?

For two years the course INDEV308 – Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship has been structured as an experiment with this approach in mind. At each offering a new ‘Wicked Problem’ (Rittel & Webber, 1974) is introduced. For the Winter 2016 offering the Wicked Problem was The Future of Youth and Work, and in the Winter 2017 offering the Wicked Problem was Urban Intensification in Waterloo Region. Students are given the tasks of defining the bounds of this system, mapping its key elements, selecting their priorities for systemic change, identifying opportunities for change and designing interventions into the system. This approach has been developed at the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) called a Social Innovation Lab (Westley & Laban, 2014) and is being adapted to a classroom setting from a practitioner setting by Sean Geobey. Through these pedagogical processes this course approaches the classroom as an open system in which students frequently interact with the off-campus community, providing ample opportunities for knowledge co-creation.

In this presentation key tools that have been used in the class to support this teaching will be outlined, including facilitation processes, community engagement protocols, peer-based decision-making tools and supporting online technologies that can be applied in full or in part in many different courses across disciplines. A visual system model will also be presented of the role of the student, classroom and campus in our broader community and how this can be used in course design. Implications for how building a systems model of classroom pedagogy can be used to produce opportunities for deeply engaged learning, while also creating opportunities for community impact and research partnerships.


Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1974). Wicked problems. Man-made Futures, 26(1), 272-280.

Westley, F., & Laban, S. (2014). Social Innovation Lab Guide. Waterloo, Ont.: Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience.

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305a – Simulated Environment, Real Curiosity

Dorothy Hadfield, English Language & Literature
Bruce Dadey, English Language & Literature

Cultivating students' curiosity can be particularly challenging in a course that is outside their chosen discipline, yet required for their program. These are the fundamental conditions for which the online course ENGL 210F: Genres of Business Communication has to be designed. In this session, we will share our experience in developing a course that attempts to draw together a fairly diverse student cohort and help them to learn the kinds of questions that they need to ask in order to become more effective communicators.

The first step required cultivating our own curiosity about who our students are and what they are expected to get out of the course. After consultations with relevant stakeholders, we developed a simulated business environment for the course that enables students to leverage their own disciplinary interests and expertise. Departments in the simulated business reflect some common employment opportunities for the disciplines, and each department works on a project similar to one that they might be assigned in the workplace.

The more daunting challenge is helping students understand that the most effective communication strategy begins with asking questions. A rhetoric-based approach to communications helps students understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” template, but that effective communication depends on the rhetorical context within which the transaction takes place. Assignments that require students to respond to genuine audiences and that reflect the openness and ambiguity associated with many high-level workplace tasks provoke students to step outside of the pseudotransactional nature of much academic performance. The course has to create opportunities for students to ask themselves the right questions about the rhetorical context, and to experience how the answers to those questions influence their communications.

In this way, curiosity is woven into everything about the course, from design to assessment

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305b – PRESENTATION - Can treating students like experts, and giving them practice making holistic comparisons, improve their learning

Tonya Elliott, Centre for Extended Learning
Mary Power, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Some skills or tasks, such as problem solving, creativity, or mathematical proof writing, are easier for experts to assess holistically than by using a detailed analytic rubric. Resultantly, it is difficult to scaffold lessons about such tasks into digestible chunks for students and to inspire those struggling with the concepts to appreciate the beauty in their complexity. Numerous studies have demonstrated how adaptive comparative judgments (ACJ) can improve the validity and reliability of grading these types of tasks; however, how ACJ can be used to facilitate and improve student learning is only beginning to be explored. 

ACJ involves reviewers making a series of pairwise judgments, identifying which of two submissions is “better”. Once a sufficient number of comparisons are made, a scaled distribution of submissions is obtained, all without referencing a detailed rubric. Tools that algorithmically determine the pairings present interfaces for those making the judgments and minimize the number of comparisons needed for a distribution. 

After highlighting the research on ACJ, this presentation will introduce some of the questions Waterloo has started asking about how to use the pairwise comparison process (and ACJ tools) to improve students’ understanding and appreciation of the subtleties of holistic tasks. The presenters are in the early stage of their research in this area and are curious to hear attendees’ feedback on their pilot project, identify desirable features of tools that facilitate ACJ, and connect with other faculty or staff who are interested in ACJ’s potential.

By the end of this session, attendees will be able to:

  • reference recent studies in the area of ACJ;
  • describe the opportunities and challenges associated with using ACJ to facilitate student learning, rather than simply assess it;
  • compare popular ACJ tools; and
  • if interested, discuss additional ACJ investigations with the presenters.


Jones, I., & Alcock, L. (2012). Summative peer assessment of undergraduate calculus using adaptive comparative judgement. Mapping university mathematics assessment practices, pp. 63-74.

Jones, I., & Wheadon, C. (2015). Peer assessment using comparative and absolute judgement. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 47, 93-101.

Pollitt, A. (2012). The method of adaptive comparative judgement. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 19(3), 281-300.

Thurstone, L. L. (1927). A law of comparative judgment. Psychological Review, 34(4), 273-286.

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306a – PRESENTATION - Engaging Students as Stakeholders to develop Personas for Curriculum Redesign

Carolyn MacGregor, Systems Design Engineering

In User-Centred Design, a common practice is to develop personas – realistic descriptions of users based on contextual research [1]. When the product or system being redesigned involves users who are themselves transforming, then evolving personas should be developed to help designers reflect on how users change by engaging with the system. This is the case with review and redesign of Curriculum spanning an undergraduate program.

A challenge for Curriculum Designers is how to describe the range of students for whom the curriculum elements are to be designed. There may be the temptation to develop student personas to reflect extremes - highly successful students as ideal for the program, and struggling or resistant students as anti-personas. A downside of developing anti-personas is that the designer may focus on the negative, thereby missing a chance to enhance the Curriculum.

To better capture student transformation for the purposes of Curriculum review and design, an approach different form the traditional persona development was needed. A two-session workshop was developed that engaged third year Systems Design Engineering (SYDE) students to help draft six personas typical of first year students, as well as six transforming student personas reflective of students in their second and third year of the program. Key components of the “Persona Sketch” template include: a brief paragraph which lacks demographics; a defining student strength framed as a benefit to the overall undergraduate program; and a user experience goal for the designer to help the student remain positively engaged with the curriculum.

To test the face validity of the first-year Student Persona Sketches, an in-class activity was carried out with the students in the second design course in the SYDE curriculum. Both student and faculty perspectives for using Student Persona Sketches as tools for Curriculum design are presented.


[1] Martin, B. and Hanington, B. (2012) Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers.

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306b - Inviting Students into the Conversation with Collaborative In-Class Debates

Ashley Waggoner Denton, Psychology, University of Toronto

Intellectual curiosity is sparked when students realize that scholars disagree on the answer to an interesting question. That spark can turn into a fire when students are required to debate the issue themselves. In this practice-focused presentation, I will describe how I incorporated formal in-class debates into an upper level psychology course (following guidelines in Bean, 1996). Students were put into small groups and assigned to either the affirmative or negative side of a proposition relating to an ongoing issue in the social cognition literature. Because students were assigned to positions, they were sometimes forced to argue for a perspective they did not necessarily agree with, which can enhance the educational value of the activity (Budesheim & Lundquist, 1999). To prepare for their debate, students were required to find empirical evidence that supported their position and present this evidence in a compelling way. They also needed to examine the evidence on the alternative side, looking for weaknesses or logical flaws. Finally, they also had to critically evaluate the evidence that they had mounted on their own side, in order to recognize potential weaknesses that would be pointed out by the other side, and prepare a defense. Apart from encouraging the development of numerous critical thinking skills, the debates also required students to collaborate successfully and communicate effectively (students were also required to submit a short argumentative essay on their debate topic, providing them with multiple opportunities to excel; Kennedy, 2007). Although I had some serious reservations about incorporating this type of assignment into my class, after the first debate, I was completely sold on the pedagogical merits of this activity. By sharing my own experience, I hope to give other instructors both the tools and the courage to incorporate in-class debates into their own courses.


Bean, J. C (1996). Engaging ideas: The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning the classroom. San Francisco, CA

Jossey-Bass. Budesheim, T. L., & Lundquist, A. R. (1999). Consider the opposite: Opening minds through in-class debates on course-related controversies. Teaching of Psychology, 26, 106 - 110.

Kennedy, R. (2007) In-class debates: Fertile ground for active learning and the cultivation of critical thinking and oral communication skills. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 19, 183 - 190.

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Session 400s: 3:45 pm - 4:40 pm

Link to session descriptions:  401402403, 404a, 404b, 405a, 405b

Session 401 - PANEL DISCUSSION - Cultivating Curiosity in Women's, Gender, and Transgender Studies Across Disciplines

Meghan K. Riley, English Language & Literature
Tommy Mayberry, English Language & Literature
Marcie Chaudet, Biology
Lindsay Orr, Physics
Ossian MacEachern, Medieval Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Graduate students are often asked and assigned to teach introductory or generalist courses; while we are encouraged to incorporate our research interests where they may fit, it can sometimes be difficult to do so while also meeting the learning outcomes for the course. Our panel intends to ask the question: How can graduate students (and all instructors) cultivate curiosity about Women’s, Gender, and Transgender Studies while also ascertaining that students can demonstrate the skills that will prepare them for a department's or field’s higher level courses and for post-graduation employment?

Panelists representing instructional and marking experience in a range of departments, including English (Meghan Riley), Fine Arts (Tommy Mayberry), and Biology (Marcie Chaudet), will discuss their approaches to providing undergraduate students with brief, sometimes covert, but always rich and rewarding, introductions to the domains of Women’s, Gender, and Transgender Studies.

Through pre-assessments; short videos; reflective writing prompts; and abridged essays (to name a few), instructors can focus on core skills in their course(s) while also encouraging students to consider, discuss, and be aware of topics and ideas in Women’s, Gender, and Transgender Studies such as situated identities, drag culture, stereotype threat, preferred pronouns, intersectionality, popular culture, social media, and more.

Each panelist will share concrete strategies he/she/they have used in his/her/their classrooms, including general communication practices, specific passages, writing prompts, videos and object texts, and assessments and projects.

By the end of the panel, participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize the benefit of teaching and incorporating Women’s, Gender, and Transgender Studies in introductory and generalist courses
  2. Identify general and specific strategies for incorporating Women’s, Gender, and Transgender Studies instructional material into their classrooms
  3. Incorporate Women’s, Gender, and Transgender Studies instructional material into their classrooms regardless of course/departmental constraints


Colatrella, Carol. "Why STEM Students Need Gender Studies: Gender studies scholarship and practice contribute to student development and to faculty networking." *Academe*, vol. 100, no. 3, 2014.

Flaherty, Colleen. "Hidden Figures: Women's studies meets mathematics in a new book arguing for a more inclusive cultural notion of literacy." *Inside Higher Ed*, 1 Mar. 2017, Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.

Giroux, Henry A. "Cultural Studies, Public Pedagogy, and the Responsibility of Intellectuals." *Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies*, vol. 1, no. 1, 2004, pp. 59-79.

Strimpel, Zoe. "Why do so few men take gender studies courses?" *The Guardian*, 19 Nov. 2012, Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

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Session 402 - WORKSHOP – The why and how of curiosity in science education: How can instructors spark curiosity to improve student success?

Heather Cray, Environment

Curiosity drives scientific discovery, inquiry, and learning. Most professors would agree that they devote their life to an area of research due to a passion for the subject and a drive for answers. From a student perspective, however, this interest doesn’t always translate effectively into a lecture hall full of non-specialist, lower level Undergraduates. As a teaching tool, research shows that inciting curiosity leads to better retention and increased self-motivation, key elements of student success. Cultivating curiosity can also be used to bypass student anxieties such as ‘science phobia’ and address many of the common criticisms of the traditional ‘stand-and-deliver’ lecture style typical of large first and second year science courses.

The purpose of this workshop is to explore successful strategies for harnessing and fostering curiosity as a means to increase student success in Undergraduate science courses. Following a brief introduction to the current literature pertaining to curiosity and student attitudes about science, workshop participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their own classroom experiences and discuss what has and has not worked for them as both teacher and learner. Participants will be provided with specific examples of curiosity and engagement-focused teaching methods from a variety of disciplines (e.g. biology, physics, chemistry, psychology), and will have the opportunity to review, redesign, and discuss a sample classroom activity. At the end of this session, participants will be able to review and discuss examples of curiosity-focused teaching methods. Participants should leave this session having reflected on the role of curiosity in their teaching style and with specific strategies to promote student engagement and overall success.


1. Adams, W. K., Willis, C. (2015). Sparking curiosity: How do you know what your students are thinking? The Physics Teacher, 53(8).

2. Garcia, R., Rahman, A., & Klein, J. G. (2015). Engaging non-science majors in biology, one disease at a time. American Biology Teacher, 77(3), 178-183.

3. King, A. (1995). Designing the Instructional Process to Enhance Critical Thinking across the Curriculum. Teaching of Psychology, 22(1).

4. Mallow, J., Kastrup, H., Bryant, F. B., Hislop, N., Shefner, R., & Udo, M. (2010). Science anxiety, science attitudes, and gender: Interviews from a binational study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 19(4), 356-369.

5. Riehle, C. F. (2012). Inciting curiosity and creating meaning: Teaching information evaluation through the lens of "bad science". Public Services Quarterly, 8(3), 227-234.

6. Rodriguez-Keyes, E., & Schneider, D. A. (2013). Cultivating curiosity: Integrating hybrid teaching in courses in human behavior in the social environment. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 33(3), 227-238.

7. Udo, K. M., Ramsey, P. G., & Mallow, V. J. (2004). Science anxiety and gender in students taking general education science courses. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(4), 435-446.

8. von Stumm, S., Hell, B., Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2011). The Hungry Mind: Intellectual curiosity is the third pillar of academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(6), 574-588.

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Session 403 - PANEL DISCUSSION - Joining the Conversation: Written Assignments Across the Curriculum

Sean Geobey, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
Sara Humphreys, St. Jerome’s University
Jen Boger, Systems Design Engineering
Wade Wilson, Kinesiology
Stephanie White, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Since writing is a high-impact practice for student engagement (Kuh, 2008), many instructors incorporate written assignments into their courses across the disciplines to challenge students to ask meaningful questions and engage in current academic conversations. Recent research shows how written assignments that include interactive components (that is, scaffolded steps), “meaning-making” activities, and clear explanations of instructors’ expectations most effectively deepen student learning in all disciplines (Anderson et al., 2016). This panel showcases University of Waterloo faculty who engage undergraduate students in academic inquiry through the high-impact practice of writing, using carefully designed assignments.

Faculty members from Applied Health Sciences, Engineering, English, and Environment will take eight to ten minutes each to share successful written assignments from their own courses, including briefing notes, op-eds, and problem briefs in International Development; scaffolded, student-driven group capstone projects in a communication course for Statistics and Actuarial Sciences; critical analyses of ethical situations in Biomedical Engineering; and scaffolded position papers in Applied Health Sciences. Panelists will describe their intended learning outcomes for these assignments and explain how they build low-stakes components, peer review, and in-class activities into these assignments to support student learning (Bean, 2011). Panel attendees will then have 15 to 20 minutes for a question-and-answer session, moderated by a Writing Studies specialist, to consider how they can implement assignments like these into their own courses in any discipline.

By the end of this session, attendees will be able to explain how carefully constructed written assignments can engage students, and they will be able to describe a range of options for designing written assignments that involve students in primary research, ignite students’ curiosity, and teach students to pose powerful questions in their academic work.


Anderson, P., Anson, C. M., Gonyea, R. M., & Paine, C. (2016, December 26). How to create high-impact writing assignments that enhance learning and development and reinvigorate WAC/WID programs: What almost 72,000 undergraduates taught us. Across the Disciplines, 13(4). Retrieved January 26, 2017, from

Bean, J. C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom. 2nd ed. San Francisco

Jossey-Bass. Kuh, G.D. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

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404a - PRESENTATION - Case-based teaching and problem-based learning to stimulate curiosity

Ariel Chan, Chemical Engineering
Lyndia Stacey, Dean of Engineering Office
Cheryl Newton, Chemical Engineering

Curiosity is the ability to drive the desire of exploration and learning. To stimulate curiosity, students must feel excited about what they are learning and how the materials connect to real world. Process safety analysis is a critical element of chemical engineering process design and has been one of the challenging topics to engage students through traditional lecture instruction. To stress the importance of process safety and provide students with most current knowledge on safety analysis techniques, a case study based on real-life practice in industry and an hands-on activity derived from the liquid nitrogen vapourization process unit located outside of the E6 engineering building was co-developed with industrial collaborators. This case was then used in the process safety workshop implemented in the 4th year chemical engineering students core course, Process Analysis and Design at the University of Waterloo. In this presentation, the process from the idea generation to implementation of the workshop and assessment of student learning effectiveness will be presented. The use of case study in cultivating curiosity, enhancing learning experience, reducing teaching variations between instructors, and the reliance on the availability of the industry speaker will also be discussed.

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404b - PRESENTATION - Sophisticated Play: Real Mathematics for Novice Learners

Cameron Morland, Math

How can we ignite curiosity in people who do not have the background to tackle major problems?

Education is sometimes presented as teaching a large corpus of work, with the hope that at some point students will be ready to tackle the real, interesting problems of the field. But this requires students to learn without a clear goal, assuming they are being led to an interesting destination. We turn this material-first concept on its head, and start with problems which are interesting yet accessible to novice learners.

In the summers of 2015 and 2016 the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences and Simon Fraser University ran a camp for in-service elementary school teachers. The focus of the camp was exploration of interesting mathematical problems. These problems were selected to be "Low Threshold High Ceiling"; they are approachable, yet contain beautiful structures at many levels. Many were open problems, where no solution is known, yet novice learners were nonetheless able to work on them, build hunches, gather evidence that the hunches may be correct, and form connections with other areas, including music and art.

This talk will be a practice based presentation and discussion of some key features important for developing and presenting good problems to novice learners in light of our experiences with the camp.

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405a – Developing Activities for Both Online and Face-to-Face Contexts

Melanie Misanchuk, Centre for Extended Learning

In this session, participants will learn about various activities used in online courses to engage and inform students. Activities are short, ungraded, potentially weekly tasks that serve to promote students’ curiosity about and competency in the course material. Good activities are engaging and have clear value to students in their learning. They are aligned with the learning outcomes and prepare students for the assessments. Polls and surveys allow students to check their understanding and learn what their peers are thinking; field notes challenge students to observe and chart developments/characteristics/etc. Socratic questioning gets students to think through ideas before being given the answer; reflection activities allow students the time and space to synthesize material before moving on. Guided reading exercises and study questions help students prepare for their readings and turn reading into a more active learning exercise by framing what they’re expecting, what they’re expected to do with the material, and how they should approach it. Self-check quizzes allow students to confirm their understanding, and enriched feedback can point them to specifically which content to review. Discussions can be conducted in pairs, in small groups, in larger groups, or as a whole class. They can be strictly defined or more open-ended. They can include roles or tasks, and can even be done orally.

All of the discussed can be conducted online and in the classroom.

Come and exchange ideas with other instructors about activities in online courses.

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405b - Conceptual questions with historical data approach in online learning

Felicia Pantazi, Centre for Extended Learning
Benji Wales, Physics & Astronomy
Joe Sanderson, Physics & Astronomy

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the new approach and its’ advantages
  • Discuss how this approach could be applied to their field of study

We conducted a study to assess the effectiveness of a new online teaching approach used in some lectures in Physics 1 course for Life Sciences at UWaterloo. In the online course we ask students multiple choice questions. Instead of giving the students the correct answer when they made their selection, we tried a similar approach to peer instruction (1) by providing students with the popularity (e.g., 40% answered a), etc.) and a plausible argument for each answer. The popularity of each answer was previously collected from the in-class version of the course. Based on literature that shows that addressing common misconceptions improves teaching effectiveness (2), the plausible answers were created based on the common misconception by the course author who has extended experience in addressing them.

Through this approach we aimed to:

  • Help students identify misconceptions by providing plausible arguments
  • Encourage critical thinking by asking students to judge the veracity of arguments
  • Stimulate curiosity through identifying their understanding relative to their peers
  • Stimulate reflection through assessment self-efficacy (3)

    The aim of the study was to test students’ perceived effectiveness of the new approach at end of term through an online survey for two consecutive offers. In this presentation we will describe the new approach and the study design, present the findings, and discuss how this approach can be applied to other fields of study (e.g., humanities).


1.Eric Mazur, Mazur Group, , Last accessed Nov 27, 2016

2. Philip M. Sadler, Gerhard Sonnert, Harold P. Coyle, Nancy Cook-Smith, Jaimie L. Miller The Influence of Teachers’ Knowledge on Student Learning in Middle School Physical Science Classrooms, American Educational Research Journal, Vol 50, Issue 5, pp. 1020 – 1049, 2013

3. Vashti Sawtelle, Eric Brewe, Renee Michelle Goertzen, and Laird H. Kramer Identifying events that impact self-efficacy in physics learning Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 8, 020111, Published 28 September 2012

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Poster Session: 4:40 pm - 5:50 pm

Link to session descriptions:  501, 502503504505506, 507

501 - POSTER - ‘What will it be like to be a University of Waterloo Engineering student?’:  Fostering emerging engineering identities among international English language learners  

Keely Cook, Renison University College
Raveet Jacob, Renison University College
Chris Rennick, Engineering Undergraduate Office

Many first-year international students experience both language and transition difficulties, and for the Faculty of Engineering, encouraging participation and engaging international students in engineering “has proven to be one of the biggest challenges” (Faculty of Engineering Strategic Plan Progress Report: 2015/16, p.33). This challenge is compounded for English language learners (ELLs) who must first complete eight months in the university’s official bridging program – BASE (Bridge to Academic Success in English) – in order to meet the university’s English language requirement before beginning their full degree studies within the discipline. While the BASE students have been conditionally admitted to their program of choice within Engineering and are even permitted to take one core credit course per term (in addition to their BASE language courses), it has been an ongoing struggle to help them feel connected to and engaged with their faculty.

With Lave and Wenger’s (1991) concept of legitimate peripheral participation providing the theoretical underpinning for pedagogical change, learning as participation within the disciplinary community was prioritized and an engineering design component was incorporated into a BASE language course for the 2016 winter term. A collaborative effort between the BASE program and professors from First Year Engineering, along with support from FIRST, WEEF, and the Engineering Ideas Clinic, this design component involved BASE students working together to design and build LEGO robots to complete FIRST LEGO League challenges.

In this presentation, we will highlight the objectives, structure, and outcomes of this collaborative course initiative, now in its second iteration, and provide feedback from the students and the instructors involved. We will demonstrate that leveraging BASE students’ curiosity about their future studies within Engineering and fostering their early disciplinary identities using hands-on activities of high relevance and interest has had positive impacts on participation, motivation and overall language development.


Faculty of Engineering Strategic Plan Progress Report: 2015/16. University of Waterloo. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

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502 - POSTER - Getting curious about online learners preferences and beliefs: Establishing a foundation for engagement and the cultivation of creativity   

Kristin Wilson, Psychology

Establishing how to best cultivate curiosity in online learning environments requires a better understanding of the online learner and the motivational and attentional challenges they face, decreasing engagement in online courses. For instance, a study of Massive Open Online Courses illustrates this challenge, revealing that within the first 5 minutes of an online video lecture more than 50% of learners have turned the video off (Kim et al., 2014). It is possible that online learners in university credit courses are more likely to watch online lectures, however, research shows that even when learners watch an entire lecture they spend, on average, 40% of the time mind wandering (not attending) (Farley, Risko, & Kingstone, 2013; Risko, Anderson, Sarwal, Engelhardt, & Kingstone, 2012). One factor influencing inattention and lecture drop rates may have to do with how lecture content is presented in online courses and importantly, what learners believe about their learning across different lecture formats, as learners’ beliefs about their learning likely influence their decision to show-up and engage. Curious about online learners preferences and beliefs about different formats of presenting lecture content (audio, text, audio with text, video of lecture, video with text), we conducted a series of studies where we showed online learners lecture material presented in different formats and tested their comprehension and asked them about their preferences, beliefs, and likelihood they would engage with courses presented in these different formats. Interestingly, we found a dissociation between learning and liking, which highlights a tension between motivating learners to show-up and engage with course material. These findings are discussed in the context of evidence-based approaches to designing online course material that may help close the gap between liking and learning, creating a solid foundation for the cultivation of curiosity in online courses


Farley, J., Risko, E., & Kingstone, A. (2013). Everyday attention and lecture retention: the effects of time, fidgeting, and mind wandering. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 619.

Kim, J., Guo, P. J., Seaton, D. T., Mitros, P., Gajos, K. Z., & Miller, R. C. (2014). Understanding in-video dropouts and interaction peaks inonline lecture videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, March 04 - 05, 31–40.

Risko, E. F., Anderson, N., Sarwal, A., Engelhardt, M., & Kingstone, A. (2012). Everyday attention: variation in mind wandering and memory in a lecture. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26(2), 234–242.

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503 - POSTER - Möbius: a new and improved way to build online STEM courses

Rachael Lewitzky, Centre for Extended Learning
Rebecca Thomson, Centre for Extended Learning

Sean Scott, Math Undergraduate Office
Paul Kates, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Tonya Elliott, Centre for Extended Learning

Come meet with Waterloo designers and developers who have been working with a local software company to build a new authoring tool that makes it easier to build online learning resources that specifically focus on the needs of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) authors and students. Set for commercial release in spring 2017, Möbius has a what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface that allows STEM authors the ability to easily create and format digital assets regardless of their level of technical expertise. It also enables authors to embed interactive applications or auto-graded and algorithmically designed quiz questions directly into a lesson, which provides a much more engaging and interactive learning experience for students. Additionally, Möbius output is HTML, which renders nicely across all browsers, devices, and assistive technologies.

The conference theme will be emphasized in this poster presentation by highlighting the interactive aspects of the tool and providing attendees opportunities to engage with the materials and ask question that are tailored to their discipline. Initial plans relating to data analytics and machine learning will also be shared so curiosities about students’ learning, motivation, and goals can be measured and predictive modelling can be applied to determine where students are likely to go and what a more beneficial learning path may be instead.

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504 - POSTER - Student Feedback on the use of Clickers in Large Courses with Multiple Sections

Nagham Mohammad, Statistics & Actuarial Science
Dina Dawoud, Statistics & Actuarial Science

Teaching large introductory statistics courses presents challenges for instructors with regards to encouraging student interaction during class. One method to help increase student interaction is the use of handheld classroom response systems, “clickers”. The main objective in our study is to summarise the feedback of students’ experience and perceptions on the use of clickers across two introductory Statistics and Probability courses offered at the University of Waterloo, STAT 230 and STAT 202. The students were asked to complete an online survey and additional clicker grades were awarded to students that completed the survey.

The study found that 81% and 86% of participants respectively felt that clickers helped them attend class, participate more and better learn the material. Both courses allocated marks to the clicker questions, these contributed a weight of 5% towards the student’s final course grade. Students were asked to comment on whether they felt this marking scheme was fair. The study showed that 70% and 74% respectively found this fair. As a final question students were asked to comment on what they feel are the biggest drawbacks of clickers. Some drawbacks include forcing student participation; lack of consistency in the number and frequency of clicker questions asked by instructors across the multiple sections; and not enough time is given to answer the questions.

Results suggest that overall students find the use of clickers beneficial in some way and find it fair to have a grade component attached to it. Some recommendations include: clickers should be used from the first lecture and consistently thereafter; courses consisting of multiple sections should co-ordinate on the number of clicker questions to be used to create uniformity; and to create further incentive for regular class participation a percentage of the final course grade (~ 5%) should be allocated to clicker responses.

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505 - Poster - Capturing Online Learner Experiences in Instructional Design

Pia Zeni, Centre for Extended Learning
Meagan Troop, Centre for Extended Learning
Darcy White, Psychology
Matt Justice, Centre for Extended Learning

In our poster session, we aim to pique participant curiosity about online teaching and learning through dialogue and with a diverse range of open resources. We will highlight evidence-informed principles of instructional design focused on motivating and engaging learners in an online context. Additionally, we will share preliminary survey data we’ve collected on students’ online learning experiences.

Incorporating learner perspectives in the instructional design process holds the potential to transform the online learning landscape. In our attempt to initiate this significant transition in instructional practice, we enter into the well-travelled domain of user experience design (UXD). UXD is a well- established product design process that recognizes the central role of users in the design process, and strives to design experiences that end users find valuable. Taking our lead from UX experts like Shedroff who position UXD as “an approach to creating successful experiences for people in any medium” (Morville, 2007), a group of instructional designers at our centre have adapted Morville’s framework for a teaching and learning context. We call our framework User Experience Design for Learning (UXDL). UXDL seeks to help learners connect with online material in ways that are useful, desirable, accessible, credible, and intuitive (Morville, 2004).

If the goal of educators and instructional designers is to create a learning environment that fosters interest, engagement, and meaningful learning, then it is crucial to consider the learner’s perspective. The learner’s experience should inform the design principles that are adopted in online learning, which is why user experience research is vital. User experience research allows researchers to determine how the student interacts with the online course. This type of research can reveal what the student’s expectations are from an online course, how they interact with the course, and what aspects of the online learning environment successfully motivate and engage them.


Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Morville, P. (2004, June 21). User Experience Design. Retrieved from

Morville, P. (2007, July 23). User Experience Strategy. Retrieved from

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506 - Poster - eCampusOntario as a catalyst for online learning in Ontario   

Catherine Newell Kelly, Centre for Extended Learning

eCampus Ontario is a major player in advancing online teaching and learning in Ontario. Membership is composed of all publicly-funded colleges and universities in the province. The organization's intent is to foster innovation, collaboration, and excellence on behalf of Ontario students, and build partnerships with complementary organizations to enhance the online and technology enabled learning environment in Ontario. Initiatives will focus on student and faculty engagement, support, and resources; advancing open content creation and use; research and innovation; and new program development--to name a few. Come to this poster session to learn more about eCampusOntario's role, mandate, priorities and possible funding opportunities.

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507 - Poster – Does Adding Augmented Reality (AR) to a First-Year Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Course Make a Differences to Student Skill Development?

Igor Ivkovic, Systems Design Engineering
Carolyn MacGregor, Systems Design Engineering

Teaching students about engineering design can be quite a challenge. As educators, we hear repeatedly about the need to better “engage” students with the hope of capturing their attention, sparking interest, and triggering curiosity-based behaviours that extend beyond the course setting. What if some of that “doing” involves visualizing objects in three-dimensions (3D) in order to complete engineering drafting assignments? How do we assist students who might understand the concepts, but have poor spatial visualization skills for imagining objects in 3D space?

In this paper, we explore the introduction of an Augmented Reality (AR) tool into a first-year Engineering Graphics and Computer-Aided Design course. AR represents computer-based technology and devices that facilitate augmentation of current views with digital artifacts, such as information, 3D objects, audio, and video. The course is a lab-based course that is part of the core curriculum in the first term of Systems Design Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. The tool, AR Engineering, accompanies the textbook “Visualization & Engineering Design Graphics with Augmented Reality” by J. D. Camba et al. Effectiveness of the tool in facilitating 3D visualization is explained as a component in a set of revisions made to the course by the instructor.

The new textbook and AR Engineering tool were first introduced in 2016 based on informal feedback provided by students in the previous year. We have collected the results from the midterm exams in 2015 and 2016, and have compared performance on similar questions for which the use of AR was helpful in skill development; the use of AR during the exam for this question was not allowed. The results based on 2x2 ANOVA analysis provide some evidence that the use of the AR tool was generally helpful when it came to spatial reasoning and visualizing objects in 3D


C. L. Dym, A. M. Agogino, O. Eris, D. D. Frey and L. J. Leifer, "Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning". Journal of Engineering Education, 94: 103–120, 2005.

J. Camba, J. Otey, M. Contero and M. Alcañiz, Visualization and engineering design graphics with augmented reality, 2nd ed: SDC Publications, 2014.

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