Preparing for spring 2020 term - for research-based students

Monday, May 4, 2020

On Monday, May 4, the following email was sent to the graduate student community:

To: Graduate students

Cc: Faculty Associate Deans, Graduate Studies, Faculty Administrative Assistants, Graduate Studies, Faculty Recruitment Co-ordinators, Department/program Graduate Co-ordinators, Department/program Graduate Officers/Associate Chairs, The Centre staff, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs staff

From: Jeffrey Casello, Associate-Vice President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA)

Subject: Preparing for spring 2020 term

Note: This email is for information and action (as appropriate)

The spring 2020 term will be held virtually and begins Monday, May 11, 2020. We understand that a fully remote term at the university will be a new experience for many of you.  We are eager to work collectively to ensure that your activities – both courses and research – continue in ways that advance your learning and academic progression.  Below you will find some reminders to get you ready for the term.

If you are enrolled in courses for the spring term, you should now:

·         Review the important dates for spring 2020 term – dates have shifted as a result of the May 11 start date.

·         Check to see if you require textbooks or course materials for your class(es), and order to ensure timely delivery – details available on the W store website.

·         Confirm personal details in Quest – make sure your addresses, emergency contact and other personal details are up to date; this allows instructors and the university to support you in delivering the most optimal course options.

If you will be serving as a TA or teaching in the spring term, you should now:

·         Discuss and agree on expectations for your contributions to the course delivery over the term.  If your program uses a TA agreement form, be sure to fill that out with the course instructor.

·         Begin to coordinate with the instructor to understand the planned approach for delivering the course, particularly what technology the instructor intends to use.

·         Understand from your instructor how students enrolled in the course will have their academic performances evaluated – through assignments, quizzes, exams, projects, etc. – and how those elements will be marked.

·         Recognize that students who are enrolled in your course may be participating from various parts of the world, in different time zones, and potentially with limited access to technology.  You should consider with your instructor how you can support students’ learning given these challenges.

·         During the term, check in with the instructor and discuss the progression of the TA position with respect to the hours assigned for this position.

·         Visit the Keep Learning website for resources and support

We recognize that government and public health have in some cases limited students’ ability to progress on their research.  That being said, the University is eager to support you as you continue your scholarship.  

As the spring term begins, to address your research, you should:

·         Continue to discuss your research with your supervisor.  If you’re in a situation where you are not able to advance critical elements – lab work, face to face interviews, etc. – you and your supervisor may be able to identify research-related activities – writing portions of your thesis or research paper, creating drafts of manuscripts, or analyzing existing data – that can continue.  

·         Have an open conversation with your supervisor to create a set of expectations for the virtual spring term.  You may wish to review the research and supervisory expectations web page to understand the University’s expectations.

·         Create a schedule for how you will resume or accelerate your research activities when public health regulations allow.  Please note that the University will be actively monitoring this information and will be taking steps to restart research activities when they can be done safely.

·         Engage with your committee members to maintain continuity in their and your understanding of how you are progressing.

·         Stay in touch with your campus community, particularly your fellow students.  Your peers can be excellent sources of support – both academic and personal – in this remote environment.  Some recommended activities include meeting with your research group, participating virtually in seminars, or collaborating on writing sessions or cafes.

·         Take advantage of University support for research, including the Library, the Writing and Communications Centre, as well as resources within your Faculty and Department.   

Throughout the term, we strongly encourage you to visit the GSPA website to explore resources that are available to you remotely (hint – there are a lot!).   For updates on services and operations visit the COVID-19 updates for graduate students webpage – check back frequently to stay up to date.

On behalf of the University of Waterloo, please know that we are here to support you during your spring term – and always.  If you have any questions as you approach the start of the term, I encourage you to contact your graduate co-ordinator, or send me or my colleague Kirsten Müller, Assistant Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs an email.  Thank you!


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