Waterloo will hold remembrance ceremony online
Canada changed forever on December 6, 1989 when 14 young women were murdered in a gender-based act of violence at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.
This year we will come together as a community, virtually, and honour the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This day is not only an opportunity to reflect and honour the lost lives of 14 young women, but to also consider and take action against violence that people who identify as women in our communities face to this day.
The University of Waterloo, in partnership with the Canadian Federation of University Women Kitchener-Waterloo, is hosting a special ceremony of remembrance.
Speaking at the event will be:
- Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor;
- Jean Becker, Interim Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion;
- Mary Wells, Dean of Engineering;
- The Honourable Bardish Chagger, MP Waterloo;
- Catherine Fife, MPP Kitchener-Waterloo
- Anita Davis, President, Canadian Federation of University Women, KW; and
- Sara Casselman, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo.
There will be a virtual candlelight vigil, where candles are lit and student participants will share information about each of the women who lost their lives. There will also be a moment of silence.
The event takes place on Friday, December 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on YouTube Live. Register with ticketfi.
How to make cheating at Hogwarts magically disappear
By Melanie Misanchuk, PhD, Centre for Extended Learning.
Even before the pandemic pushed most university instruction online, there were concerns about academic integrity across all disciplines. Students’ sharing of assignments and the availability of pre-written essays and contract cheating mean that instructors are fighting a constant battle when it comes to ensuring academic integrity and requiring students to complete original work.
This is a battle that Professor Jennifer Harris of English Language and Literature had been engaged in long before the pandemic, and even before she worked with the Centre for Extended Learning to create an online version of ENGL 108P: Popular Potter.
“Many students sign up for this course thinking it’ll be a breeze; they figure they can watch the movies and get a passing grade. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Professor Harris.
Even students who have read the books multiple times are required to re-read them during the 12-week course, which amounts to almost 3500 pages (depending on the edition), or an average of over 290 pages per week. Due to this heavy weekly reading load, the rest of the course material is comparatively light: each week has about 10 pages of material, including illustrations and audio clips. Every week, students also participate in extensive discussions and reflective activities, to help understand and integrate the material. All through it, Professor Harris is an active participant, summarizing the main themes of the discussions and gently guiding and supporting students.
Even for die-hard Harry Potter fans, this course can be difficult: if not in the sheer quantity of work, perhaps in challenging their assumptions about the books and the characters. “One of the first things that some students need to learn is that characters are devices to move the story forward. Readers are not used to thinking about beloved characters in this way; they want to see them as real people.” And the course material itself can also be challenging for students: there are many dark themes explored in the Harry Potter series and some students are forced to confront their favourite books as more than just entertaining stories.
But because the books are so popular, there is much written about them and it might be tough to craft assignments that students couldn’t just Google. It is here where Dr Harris’s thoughtful assessment design really shines, in two assignments that students simply must just do on their own.
Assignment One: Building on Discussions does exactly that: it requires students to revisit the discussions they’ve been having online in small groups, find a comment by a classmate that they have responded to, and then “analyze the original comment in relation to the novels and the literary theory covered in the course, as well as two relevant, scholarly books and/or peer-reviewed journal articles.” By localizing the source material in the current version of the course, Dr. Harris has ensured that students can’t use a friend’s assignment, or an essay they found online. The assessment starts internal to the course, with the classmate’s ideas about the material, but then the student externalizes it by referencing outside, scholarly works. Whereas the source material is an answer to an online discussion question, the deliverable is an academic essay, which includes a Works Cited page.
Assignment Two: Reflect, Connect, Assess ensures academic integrity in a different way, by time-limiting the essay topic: “You will do a Google News search for a topical reference to Harry Potter in the past six months in a reputable news source (not a blog or a campus newspaper). Bringing together knowledge from readings and lectures, while also utilizing relevant academic sources, you will analyze that reference in the context of the books and the critical theory discussed in the course. You will stage an academic assessment of this deployment in popular culture in formal academic language.” Again, the emphasis is on a scholarly analysis of the topic, but the topic is bounded such that students can’t use essays from previous years or other universities. This assignment also contains a peer review component, so that students are exposed to the ideas, and receive critiques from, 2-3 of their classmates.
Dr Harris has designed thought-provoking, challenging assessments that require students to engage deeply with the course material and each other while at the same time encouraging academic integrity. However, this approach isn’t unique to popular literature, or even to English courses…how could professors in other subject areas implement a similar assignment? Feel free to reach out.
Photo credit: Harry Potter train in Scotland: wanderluster/E+/Getty Images.
Staff association announces election results; other notes
"We are excited to welcome new additions to the UWSA Board of Directors as they bring their expertise and knowledge to the table, while helping further the UWSA mission to represent the interests of UW Staff," says a note from the University of Waterloo Staff Association.
Joe Allen, UWSA's chief returning officer, presented the 2020 election report at the UWSA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, October 29, 2020. The following candidates were successful in their bids for election:
- Dave McDougall, President-elect
- Jane Arnem, Director (3-year term)
- Michael Herz, Director (3-year term)
- Selena Santi, Director (1-year term)
"The election of sitting Board Director Dave McDougall to the position of President-elect left a Board Director vacancy," says the note from UWSA. "In accordance with the UWSA constitution and general practices, the next runner-up was invited to serve as a Board Director until the next AGM; we are happy to report that she accepted. Welcome, Kristen Deckert (1-year term)."
At the first meeting of this new Board, held on November 10, 2020, Jane Arnem was appointed Treasurer and Kristen Deckert was appointed Secretary.
"Please join us in welcoming the 2020-21 UWSA Board of Directors:"
- President: Kathy Becker
- President-elect: Dave McDougall
- Past President: Lawrence Folland
- Secretary: Kristen Deckert
- Treasurer: Jane Arnem
- Director: Agata Antkiewicz
- Director: Selena Santi
- Director: Bill Baer
- Director: Michael Herz
“We have a solid team, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish over the next year for our members," says President Kathy Becker. "If you’re interested in supporting our efforts, please send me an email or Teams message."
The next Knowledge Integration seminar is scheduled for Friday, November 27 at 1:00 p.m. “Indigenous Clean Energy in Canada - Leadership, Self-Determination, and Next Steps”, will feature speaker Ian Scholten, director of Bringing It Home, Indigenous Clean Energy.
"Indigenous communities across Canada are a powerful force for change in Canada's transition to a clean energy future," says Scholten. "Apart from crown and private utilities, Indigenous communities and enterprises are the largest single owner of clean energy assets in the country. And this is only the beginning."
Lori Campbell, director of the Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, is among the recipients of the 2020 Women of Inspiration awards. Campbell was one of two winners of the Indigenous Leader Award. The Women of Inspiration awards are given out by the Universal Womens Network, described as a global platform committed to advancing gender equality.