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Senior Research Projects 2018

Each student in the Knowledge Integration Senior Research Project (two-term course, INTEG 420 A & B) works on a short research project under the dual direction of a member of the Department of Knowledge Integration and an advisor from a discipline related to the topic. The results of this project will be presented in thesis form, and will be critically examined by members of this and, where pertinent, other departments.

The students presented poster displays of their projects on Wednesday, April 4. Details at: Knowledge Integration Symposium 2018

Conference-style papers: KI Symposium Proceedings 2018 (PDF)

Also, check out: 2017 projects | 2016 projects | 2015 projects | 2014 projects | 2013 projects | 2012 projects

Student Title (with link to Abstract) Supervisor
Senior Research Projects 2018
Robbie Abrams Identification and Effective Communication of Knowledge Integration Program Strengths Rob Gorbet, Knowledge Integration and Tina Roberts, Marketing & Undergraduate Recruitment, University of Waterloo
Betelhem Alemayehu Multimodality in Philosophy: a social semiotics perspective of the traditional philosophical canon Andrew McMurry, English Language and Literature
Katrina Brain The evolving landscape of science communication: A case study on interdisciplinary accommodation in the Internet age Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language and Literature
Sukhi Chuhan Digital Patient Experience Platform: Designing a collaborative patient experience program for health system improvements in Waterloo-Wellington Paul Stolee, School of Public Health and Health Systems
Joshua Dolman Enriching high school outreach for the Department of Knowledge Integration Paul McKone, Knowledge Integration
Anne Filion The Creative Revolution: Incorporating Creativity in Traditional Organizations Allyson Stokes, Knowledge Integration
Janna Fleming The Mad Scientist: Androgynous Professionalism Inspired by Weird Fiction Sharon Secord, Drama and Speech Communication
Matthew Gerrits Sample Selection Methods & Practices in Local Co-operative Impact Studies Sean Geobey, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
Morgan Gitt Too many children, not enough homes: Examining how foster parent – caseworker relationships and contradicting motivations effect retention of foster parents in Ontario Jason Blokhuis, Social Development Studies, Renison University College
Ian Hamilton Trends in corporate responsibility reporting: Intersecting frameworks and practical considerations for Canadian corporations Barry Colbert, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University
Ness Barriers, Supports, and Inequity: Exploring the Experiences of Disabled Students at the University of Waterloo Kristin Brown and Crystal Tse, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Jack Designing a Cross-Cultural Engagement Program for Migrant and Japanese Children in Japanese Elementary Schools David Welch, Balsillie School of International Affairs 
Sarah Matthews Strangers, Suburbia and Social Change: Seventy Years of the Babysitter in Film Joan Coutu, Fine Arts
Logan Miller Industrial Growth in Ethiopia Horatiu Rus, Economics
Rachel Milner Quiet (But Engaged) Participation  Christine Zaza, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Joy Mpesha The benefits to musical training for the resilience of neuro-degeneration leading to Parkinson’s disease and dementia: a systematic review Maisie Sum, Music, Conrad Grebel University College
Aubrey Richards Emotional Reasoning: Why Analogical Arguments Are Useful for Promoting Veganism Nicholas Ray, Philosophy and Kathryn Plaisance, Knowledge Integration
Lauren Rigby Student Engagement in UWaterloo’s Environmental Sustainability Efforts: An Evaluation of Policy 53 Daniel Henstra, Political Science
Natalie Robinson Study of Active Engagement at the University of Waterloo Library Mary Lynne  Bartlett, University of Waterloo Library
Erik Ruesink Building a Better Online Class: Intentional and Intelligent Course Design for DUTCH Geertruida (Margreet) de Rooij-Mohle, Germanic and Slavic Studies
Siera Stampone Should Ontario Amend the Family Law Act to Incorporate Court-Ordered Parent Coordination? Denise Whitehead, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies, St. Jerome’s University
Shania Trepanier INTEG 320 Group Formation Practices: Recommendations for Fall 2018 Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language and Literature
Will Turman The (im)mobilized city: The right to the city and Toronto's struggle with modernity and identity Julia Seirlis, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development and St. Paul's University College
Jessilyn Wolfe Escaping the Office: Developing Escape Room Experiences to Improve Corporate Small Group Teambuilding John McLevey, Knowledge Integration
Rachel W. Designing and developing mkd3, software for learning about academic literature John McLevey, Knowledge Integration

Identification and Effective Communication of Knowledge Integration Program Strengths

Robbie Abrams

Supervisors: Rob Gorbet, Knowledge Integration and Tina Roberts, Marketing & Undergraduate Recruitment, University of Waterloo

Abstract:

Knowledge Integration (KI) is a unique undergraduate program hosted at the University of Waterloo.  Similar to a traditional Arts & Sciences program, KI offers interdisciplinary education and a community of like-minded learners. More than other Arts & Sciences programs, though, KI’s unique degree structure allows students to customize their specializations while providing them with a core set of courses that teach valuable design and collaboration skills. Current students, staff, and faculty understand the strengths this brings as an interdisciplinary education, but how best to communicate these strengths to an audience of prospective 17-year olds remains an open question.

To answer this question, I took a two-step approach to analyzing KI’s recruitment messaging. First, I completed an environmental scan of the KI program, designed to improve the understanding of how different stakeholders at the University of Waterloo viewed the benefits KI provides students. Out of the scan, I identified eight distinct program strengths. Then, I designed a survey to test messaging and the relative importance of these strengths among prospects.  The survey was administered to 98 fall 2018 applicants to Knowledge Integration. Survey responses were critically compared with the environmental scan results to identify connections with stakeholder viewpoints. The results of this analysis will contribute to the continued improvement of KI’s recruitment messaging.

Multimodality in Philosophy: a social semiotics perspective of the traditional philosophical canon

Betelhem Alemayehu

Supervisor: Andrew McMurry, English Language and Literature

Abstract:

The discipline of philosophy favors the traditional manuscript over other forms of writing or knowledge sharing. Since there is ample literature readily available about historical influences with respect to decolonizing education, this paper will be taking another approach to understanding why that favoritism might occur. The purpose of this paper is to investigate if there are more than just historical influences as to why the philosophical canon in Canada has such a narrow demographic (namely that it is Western and male). In particular, this paper will look into the role social semiotics may have over pedagogy in philosophy. The hope is that expanding the discipline of philosophy into a multimodal form will diversify the canon because in order to address the epistemic loss incurred the reason behind why the loss occurs in the first place must be known. A literature review of multimodal forms and a select overview of philosophy in various forms will be conducted. Examples from outside the traditional canon will be referenced; such as Zera Yacob (Ethiopia), Navajo/Dine (North American Indigenous Peoples), and Sor Juana Ines (Mexico). The hope is that these examples will demonstrate that philosophy can be found outside of the ‘typical’ text, and ignoring them illustrates that the traditional canon discriminates demographically. Recommendations will be made if the findings prove that a) social semiotics plays a significant role in the homogenizing of the philosophical canon and b) that can be changed.

The evolving landscape of science communication: A case study on interdisciplinary accommodation in the Internet age

Katrina Brain

Supervisor: Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language and Literature

Abstract:

Accessible, accurate, and engaging communication of scientific knowledge is critical to cultivating mutual understanding and trust between scientists and publics. The number of possible venues for communicating scientific knowledge has increased as the journalism landscape has evolved with the advent of new media environments like blogs and forums like Reddit. My project explores differences between genres of science of communication through analysis of verbal data from a case study on the creation of synthetic yeast chromosomes. Specifically, my research investigates how the arguments for application in this emerging news story change as the story is translated across time and space. While some characteristics of the press releases carried through to popularizations, there were noticeable differences between the stated applications in press releases versus in traditional media, blogs, and Reddit. Each genre offered different emphasis on certain applications over others. Further, it was found that blog posts and Reddit threads contained more technical discussion than the traditional media articles. My results could benefit scientists, science communicators, and audiences alike by providing a deeper understanding of the science communication ecosystem they work within.

Digital Patient Experience Platform: Designing a collaborative patient experience program for health system improvements in Waterloo-Wellington

Sukhi Chuhan

Supervisor: Paul Stolee, School of Public Health and Health Systems

Abstract:

The Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) plans to establish a patient experience program (PEP) as a part of their 2017/2018 business objectives to meet the guidelines in the Patient First Act. The business plan identifies criteria that defines this PEP as a "program that supports creative engagement and inclusion of patients and caregivers in system improvement identification and implementation." (WWLHIN, 2017). A competitive analysis of existing patient experience programs demonstrates constraints of requiring engagement to be facilitated through scheduled consultation level meetings. These programs raise accessibility issues that require time and travel commitment from patients rather than giving flexibility to members to participate with their preferred level of engagement. The current absence of a WWLHIN PEP presents the opportunity to determine how different levels of patient engagement can include collaboration between the WWLHIN and citizens. With the iteration of the Patient Declaration of Values, measurable criteria of patient experience will be defined and there will be a need to evaluate and reflect on these values based on citizen input. To address this gap, the Digital Patient Experience Platform (DPEP) proposes how collaboration for health system improvements can be facilitated online. The DPEP is designed with the framework for engaging older adults in healthcare research and planning as described by McNeil et al. 2016 synthesized with the IDEO human-centered design methodology. DPEP is a website design for citizens in Waterloo-Wellington to crowdsource ideas on how to improve the local healthcare system and facilitate patient engagement among WWLHIN administrators and community institutions. The website allows for flexibility in engagement for the citizens to be informed, consulted and partnered as a part of the PEP. With this DPEP design, the WWLHIN can create a program that integrates citizen collaboration with community stakeholders and empower citizens when their ideas are implemented to improve the Waterloo-Wellington health system.

Enriching high school outreach for the Department of Knowledge Integration

Joshua Dolman

Supervisor: Paul McKone, Knowledge Integration

Abstract:

How does a university reach out to the high school students that will best fit their programs? This is no new question for university marketing and recruitment, but it is especially pertinent for new, niche programs that wish to grow their incoming classes. Knowledge Integration, the University of Waterloo’s flagship interdisciplinary program, is one such case. Although it has traditionally brought in exceptionally-talented and motivated students, it has recently had difficulty identifying and recruiting enough newcomers to meet desired targets.

To address this problem, I approached undergraduate recruitment as an opportunity for high school enrichment. This model of outreach has  traditionally succeeded because it offers benefits to its participants and the university alike. However, for such an endeavour to be feasible for Knowledge Integration, it must exist on a scale that can be supported through a minimal budget and with only the help of student volunteers. Out of these constraints, I crafted the following problem statement: how might we attract high school students to Knowledge Integration and the University of Waterloo while providing them with a rewarding enrichment experience?

My proposed solution is a series of workshops on real-world problem solving skills for high school leadership classes. I identified that this audience would benefit from and relate to the Knowledge Integration curriculum after speaking with various high school teachers and university outreach coordinators from across the Waterloo Region. From this insight, I developed a pilot series of workshops which ran during February and March of 2018 with the support of Knowledge Integration staff and students. Feedback from the pilot indicates that the program has been successful as both an enrichment activity and a marketing tool.

The Creative Revolution: Incorporating Creativity in Traditional Organizations

Anne Filion

Supervisor: Allyson Stokes, Knowledge Integration

Abstract:

We typically think of organizations like banks and hospitals as “traditional organizations” defined by rational, bureaucratic processes, rather than creativity. However, creativity is playing an increasingly important role in how these organizations operate and is seen as a key ingredient in organizational innovation, competitiveness, and prosperity. Nonetheless, there is little research outlining the processes traditional organizations use to implement creativity, or whether these strategies follow the best practices for becoming creative as outlined by experts and researchers. I address these gaps by examining the following research questions: What are the current practices used to incorporate creativity within traditional organizations? What are the benefits and challenges associated with these practices? How might we improve these practices to make the incorporation of creativity more effective? To answer these questions, I conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with two groups: 1) external consultants who facilitate organizational creativity and 2) individuals working for traditional organizations incorporating creativity. I find that: 1) Creative work in traditional organizations tends to be highly dependent on individual people, specifically in leadership positions or “enabling services” such as HR and IT;  2) Creative projects require ownership from the people implementing them to be successful, even though these people may not have creative training; and 3) Traditional organizations lack a common understanding of the language surrounding creative work, largely because this language adapts and changes often. Based on these findings, I offer recommendations about how to integrate creativity into traditional organizations in effective and sustainable ways.

The Mad Scientist: Androgynous Professionalism Inspired by Weird Fiction

Janna Fleming

Supervisor: Sharon Secord, Drama and Speech Communication

Abstract:

Why is it that mainstream clothing retailers only cater to a strict gender binary? Simply put, it is more profitable. By marketing clothing to cis-male and cis-female gender categories, companies can more easily mass-produce their product. This system reinforces cis-normativity and helps to alienate people with a more androgynous gender expression. I have become increasingly aware of this user gap in the mainstream clothing industry and researched alternative options to disappointing results. This led me to the idea of adding my own line to the growing market for androgynous clothing.

Before beginning I needed to be mindful of my scope; I would not be able to revolutionize the clothing industry in eight months. However, designing a line of clothing with its own inclusive sizing chart was more manageable. In my preliminary research into the androgynous clothing market, I noticed that there were many options for casual wear, but significantly fewer for professional wear. This lead me to my design question: how might I add to the niche, yet growing market for androgynous clothing to provide options for people who prefer a gender-neutral or androgynous gender expression?

My proposed solution is the brand The Mad Scientist. In literature the archetype of the mad scientist is filled by someone who defies norms and is deemed ‘mad’ for their actions. However, they always go on to accomplish extraordinary feats. I want to be able to give that kind of empowerment to my users. I describe the first line in The Mad Scientist as androgynous professionalism inspired by weird fiction. The idea behind my clothes is to take simplistic, professional-wear patterns and inject them with a hint of ‘madness’ – such as bright colours or interesting prints – to break the norm of boring office clothes and bring a sense of fun to people’s wardrobes.

Sample Selection Methods & Practices in Local Co-operative Impact Studies

Matthew Gerrits

Supervisor: Sean Geobey, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development

Abstract:

Impact studies have been a largely 21st century development in co-operative research, giving insight into important statistics required for understanding the status of the co-operative business sector. While a variety of studies have been conducted on national and sub-national levels in Canada and the US, sector-wide investigations into local co-operative landscapes have been a more recent development. Local impact studies have the potential to provide more granular bases for analysis. The studies analyze co-operatives in the context of neighbourhoods and cities, which for many co-operatives are the natural scale of ecosystem in which they are known, provide services, and have membership. The methodology for these analyses will be important as more studies are initiated. One important element in the compiling reports will be consistent selection of co-operatives for studies. This paper explores key methodology decisions encountered in sample selection while conducting an impact study of co-operatives in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Areas of interest will be outlined, discussed in the context of existing literature or convention in academic or industry literature, and recommendations for future best practice established. Key areas explored in proceedings are: methods of identifying potential co-operatives; identification of pseudo-cooperatives; inclusion of various non-Cooperatives Act financial enterprises, buying clubs, collectives, or non-incorporated co-operatives; and treatment of co-operative operations not conducted within the geographic bounders of the study by co-operatives headquartered in that region.

Too many children, not enough homes: Examining how foster parent – caseworker relationships and contradicting motivations effect retention of foster parents in Ontario

Morgan Gitt

Supervisor: Jason Blokhuis, Social Development Studies, Renison University College

Abstract:

Using Anthony Platt's critique of the Progressive Movement in the United States and the roots of social work in his book, The Child Savers, as a framework, this study will explore and contrast the motivations inherent in the foster care system with the motivations of foster parents in order to provide a potential explanation for the generally poor relationships between caseworkers and foster parents, which is a frequently cited cause of the low retention of foster parents.3, 4, 7, 8, 9 While foster parents are primarily motivated by altruism1, 4, 8, Platt’s analysis uncovers a system based in social control, which is perpetuated by the agents of the system: caseworkers. A survey administered to foster parents in Ontario through membership of the Foster Parent Society of Ontario (FPSO), will examine the motivations of foster parents and their perception of their relationships with caseworkers. Preliminary findings show little variation from previous studies: most foster parents cite wanting to help children as their main motivator and troubles with caseworkers and the agency in general as reasons for considering quitting or quitting.

Trends in corporate responsibility reporting: Intersecting frameworks and practical considerations for Canadian corporations

Ian Hamilton

Supervisor: Barry Colbert, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University

Abstract:

Canadian corporations are increasingly issuing corporate responsibility (CR) reports to disclose the non-financial impacts of their business. Accompanying this trend are evolving CR reporting frameworks used to guide the format and content of the reports. While these frameworks are similar in some aspects, their differing intended audiences and theoretical approaches have repercussions on the items disclosed in reports. In this study, the overlap between the three most popular international CR reporting frameworks is analyzed and their impact on Canadian CR practitioners is explored. Using a mixed methods approach that combines content analysis of Canadian CR reports and semi-structured interviews with CR practitioners, the data collected shows the influences of reporting frameworks on CR report content. The researcher finds evidence of complementarity between the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting and Standards Board frameworks, while the Integrated Reporting framework results in a more distinct reporting strategy. The study also finds differences of opinion between CR practitioners and trends within CR reporting in Canada.

Barriers, Supports, and Inequity: Exploring the Experiences of Disabled Students at the University of Waterloo

Ness

Supervisors: Kristin Brown and Crystal Tse, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Abstract:

Issues of equity and inclusion for disabled students are of critical importance towards building an improved and fairer post-secondary education system for all. While the University of Waterloo provides services, accommodations, and other supports for disabled students, many face barriers and find their needs are not adequately met. Analysis of these issues has usually focused on meeting legal requirements set forth in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), but more perspectives are relevant to analyzing and improving the experiences of disabled students. This project goes beyond a single perspective, integrating policy recommendations and best practices with research in educational psychology, sociology, disability studies, and cases from the diverse lived experiences of disabled students. There is a need for research that makes these central voices heard and understood, and that is situated in the context of the University of Waterloo. The objectives of this research are to build a holistic understanding of the diverse lived experiences of disabled students, identify barriers faced by disabled students and their impacts on their lives, and identify relevant strengths, resilience factors, and opportunities for growth. Comparing existing research with first-hand accounts from disabled students at UW provides a more holistic account of resilience factors, challenges, and opportunities for growth at individual, classroom, and policy levels. Through review of the literature and discussions with disabled students, three main themes have emerged: access to care, interactions with disability support services, and implementation of accommodations. The results of this research can be used to inform recommendations for enhancing the experience of disabled students on campus.

Designing a Cross-Cultural Engagement Program for Migrant and Japanese Children in Japanese Elementary Schools

Jack

Supervisor: David Welch, Balsillie School of International Affairs

Abstract:

This research and design project can be divided into two folds. First, to understand the unique and common program experiences of participants and alumni from the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) and the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) through formal interviews. Second, to design a new cross-cultural engagement program called the “Shared-Curriculum (SC)” that leverages the experience and knowledge of international program participants and alumni with the aim of assisting teachers and empowering culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children in their classrooms. Through interviewing JET and JOCV participants and alumni, common themes such as challenge and support emerged. These common themes were integrated with existing initiatives in
immigrant children education in designing the structure and content of the SC program. This conference paper provides an overview of the interview findings that inspired the design of the program. The details of the program itself can be found in the accompanying “Activity Playbook” which outlines the details of the program, necessary considerations, and how it may be pilot tested. (Participants and alumni from the two international programs will be collectively referred to as JETs & JOCVs in this paper).

Strangers, Suburbia and Social Change: Seventy Years of the Babysitter in Film

Sarah Matthews

Supervisor: Joan Coutu, Fine Arts

Abstract:

The American Babysitter has gripped the cultural imagination since its social advent in the 1920s. Traditionally depicted as white, adolescent, middle-class and female, the babysitter has made her way through seven decades of feature film, ranging in genre from drama and comedy to horror. At this time, there is no research that is dedicated exclusively to the analysis of this varied body of work. This project seeks to gain an understanding of the role of the babysitter in the American collective imagination and to account for her sustained filmic presence. My research consists of a survey of babysitter-centered films produced in the United States between 1948-2017, which has been analyzed in order to identify common themes, plots, and conflicts. Filmic analysis is complemented by historian accounts of related 20th century events: post-war suburbanization, historical perceptions of real-life babysitters, and the changing status of women in society. The major finding of my research is that babysitter films can be categorized into three basic story lines, within which the babysitter alternates between endangering the family structure and protecting it. All of these story lines conclude with the preservation of the nuclear family. This paper identifies the babysitter as a “threshold figure” – at once within and outside of the family – whose liminal nature makes her an accommodating body over which various social anxieties can be inscribed. From her privileged position in the familial home, she helps audiences explore anxieties such as the trustworthiness of strangers, changing gender roles and ideals, and the threats of modern life. The proposed reasons for the babysitter’s on-screen longevity are: 1) her liminal, dynamic character, and 2) the persisting relevance of the themes and conflicts inherent to her stories.

Industrial Growth in Ethiopia

Logan Miller

Supervisor: Horatiu Rus, Economics

Abstract:

To many, made in China labels bring to mind images of sweat shops. While this may be true in some cases, industrial growth can be a key to increasing the quality of life within the developing world. This growth has been seen in many countries in the east such as Korea, Vietnam, China and India. To date this type of growth has not been seen in Africa to the same extent. My thesis tested growth in several industrial sectors of Ethiopia’s economy in an effort to gain a better understanding of industrialization within East Africa. To test this growth I look at both production data and export data in an effort to gain an understanding of of which demand factor is driving the growth. The production data is used from the Ethiopian national bank while the export data is taken from the Atlas of Economic Complexity. International economic policy in Africa has looked very different then the ones found in Asia with African countries using more tariffs to protect their domestic industry. My paper compares growth in sectors with high tariffs with that of industries with low tariffs. My paper finds that growth is higher in sectors wth lower tariffs. It is possible that this is because growth is already high in those sectors and thus they don’t need tariff protection.

Quiet (But Engaged) Participation

Rachel Milner

Supervisor: Christine Zaza, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Abstract:

In many small classes, students have a chance to share their thoughts by engaging in class discussions. While this is motivating for some, it can be terrifying for others. Nonetheless, it is common for instructors to gauge understanding and assign grades by assessing students’ verbal contributions to class discussions. This way of measuring participation raises several questions about inclusivity. For example, what about students who, for a variety of reasons, struggle with speaking up in class but excel in other ways of contributing to discussion? Is there an assumption that quiet students have less to contribute than those who are comfortable with, and able to negotiate, the demands of verbal discussion? Is it fair to base participation grades on the ability to speak up in class in front of peers? How can instructors engage students in discussion and measure participation in ways that account for diversity?

I designed and performed a workshop through the Centre for Teaching Excellence for instructors to inform them about the diversity of students and different ways in which students participate in their classrooms. Through Universal Design for Learning principles, I demonstrated different discussion, writing, and audience response alternatives for instructors to consider in their classes. By being flexible in their grading or surveying students about how they prefer to be assessed, instructors can evaluate the same requirements from full class participation while being more conscious of those who are not able to participate in this way.

The benefits to musical training for the resilience of neuro-degeneration leading to Parkinson’s disease and dementia: a systematic review

Joy Mpesha

Supervisor: Maisie Sum, Music, Conrad Grebel University College

Abstract:

With research on music treatments for various physical and psychological disorders on the rise, studies are exploring new ways to reverse adverse conditions. This systematic review analyses 20 articles on music training affecting brain structure, music therapies to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s, and music therapies to reduce the symptoms in dementia. Grey and white matter changes to musicians’ brain structures were found in cerebellar, motor, and auditory regions in the brain as a result of their long-term skill training. Musical therapies such as vibroacoustic therapy were found to relieve symptoms and improve motor function in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Music therapy for adults with dementia improves sensory, social, and physical functioning. With the data collected through offline resources and through the chosen databases, a positive correlation between music training and cognitive resilience was found. More research in this area is needed to produce evidence-based results and to consider multiple factors in affect for healthy brain aging.

Emotional Reasoning: Why Analogical Arguments Are Useful for Promoting Veganism

Aubrey Richards

Supervisors: Nicholas Ray, Philosophy and Kathryn Plaisance, Knowledge Integration

Abstract:

Is there a way for vegans to change how people feel about our treatment of animals? This research project is an investigation into a particular form of argument that may be the answer: arguments from analogy. While Peter Singer is known for his utilitarian arguments for animal welfare in the book Animal Liberation, what seem to truly be effective in changing people’s minds are instead the parts of the book in which he makes comparisons between animals we give moral status to and animals that we do not. These comparisons are analogies that create an association between the two subjects, and have the power to make people see these subjects in a new light. As I have a strong interest in promoting veganism for the sake of our fellow earthlings, I decided to look into why these arguments have such power in order to learn how we can use them even more effectively in the future. By looking into cognitive science research, I’ve found that the key factor making arguments from analogy often more effective than arguments from first principles is emotion. Analogical arguments allow for the incorporation of emotion into reason, and although we often see reason and emotion as entirely separate, they seem to be interlinked. Arguments from analogy thrive by tapping into both reason and emotion, and should be used by vegans to get people to change their perceptions of animals for the better.

Student Engagement in UWaterloo’s Environmental Sustainability Efforts: An Evaluation of Policy 53

Lauren Rigby

Supervisor: Daniel Henstra, Political Science

Abstract:

Places of higher education have a responsibility to foster environmental sustainability because of their unique ability to impact members in their community, on and off campus. As Universities are institutions for research, teaching, learning, and development, they are the perfect place for paving a path towards sustainable growth. Students are often a necessary tool for educating their peers and the University community as a whole on issues of sustainability.  However, for students to act as change agents on campus, their involvement, engagement, and collaboration needs to be heavily encouraged by the University. In March of 2017, Policy 53, environmental sustainability was enacted on Waterloo’s campus. This policy aims to further integrate environmental sustainability into a core part of the culture at the University of Waterloo, partially by engaging, collaborating, and encouraging students to develop innovative solutions towards environmental problems. Studies have shown that a lack of evaluation towards sustainability initiatives has led to unsuccessful campus efforts. Therefore, this report aims to evaluate the University of Waterloo Sustainability Policy on its objectives to engage and involve students in sustainable change. Through in-depth focus group interviews with student sustainability groups on campus, this data will point out areas where Policy 53 may not be meeting intended objectives. I will use this information to create policy recommendations to improve the connection and communication between students and administration in areas of sustainability, educate the University community on what initiatives are being led by students, and hopefully highlight areas of opportunity for collaboration between students and administration.

Study of Active Engagement at the University of Waterloo Library

Natalie Robinson

Supervisor: Mary Lynne  Bartlett, University of Waterloo Library

Abstract:

Academic libraries are an important resource for students, but a lack of awareness regarding their services can mean that students miss out on valuable opportunities to improve their learning experience. Libraries have to compete with not only Google and online information resources, but also the general
activities that make the lives of students so busy1. This is the challenge faced by modern academic libraries; to be engaging or become irrelevant. There are a number of methods that libraries can employ to engage students and increase interactions, both in person and online. The University of Waterloo Library employs a number of these strategies, however, the focus of this project is on the Library Ambassador program, which hires students to promote engagement with the library through activities, events, and social media contributions. Specifically, this project aims to understand the current literature surrounding student engagement within libraries to identify effective ways to build upon the Library Ambassador program. This literature review is supported by a case study, which contrasts two Library Ambassador projects using social media data to indicate uptake by the student body, and interviews with Library staff to relate the research to the specific context of the University of Waterloo. The ultimate goal is to serve the library community and identify ways in which the library is able to build upon current student engagement initiatives. It is important for libraries to engage students or risk becoming irrelevant, not because their services are irrelevant, but rather to avoid the effects of being perceived as such.

Building a Better Online Class: Intentional and Intelligent Course Design for DUTCH

Erik Ruesink

Supervisor: Geertruida (Margreet) de Rooij-Mohle, Germanic and Slavic Studies

Abstract:

Online courses are increasingly common in academia and in the workplace. However, their effectiveness is often hampered by crucial pedagogical and design flaws, since minimal attention is given to modifying the course structure and content to match the online environment. This is especially unfortunate due to the opportunities and benefits provided by hosting educational content on an online platform. In collaboration with the Centre for Extended Learning, my supervisor and I have been creating DUTCH 271: Society and Culture in the Netherlands from the ground up, which will be offered through the University of Waterloo in 2019. This course seeks to mitigate or eliminate many of the traditional issues that plague online courses, such as lack of engagement and depth of content.

Should Ontario Amend the Family Law Act to Incorporate Court-Ordered Parent Coordination?

Siera Stampone

Supervisor: Denise Whitehead, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies, St. Jerome’s University

Abstract:

In family law, there has been a shift away from traditional litigation as families are encouraged by judges, lawyers, and government to resolve conflict through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes (e.g., mediation). ADR processes have been identified as a means to minimize parental conflict allowing for greater empathy to the needs of children and providing for quicker and more satisfying outcomes for parents. Nevertheless, for some parents, conflict continues even after a parenting agreement has been reached. Parent coordination is an alternative dispute resolution service that assists high-conflict parents in implementing their co-parenting agreement with the best interests of the child as the focus. In 2013, British Columbia made amendments to their Family Law Act that allows judges to court order a Parent Coordinator, without their consent, to assist a family with living out their parenting agreement. Currently, Ontario has no provision or legislation regarding parent coordination and a Parent Coordinator can only be ordered upon consent of the parties. This thesis will report on the results of an in-depth literature review and six key informant interviews about whether Ontario should amend the Family Law Act to incorporate court-ordered parent coordination as informed by the British Columbia model.

INTEG 320 Group Formation Practices: Recommendations for Fall 2018

Shania Trepanier

Supervisor: Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language and Literature

Abstract:

As part of their studies in the Bachelor of Knowledge Integration program at the University of Waterloo, students must enroll in the four-part Museum Course where they apply their previous education and experience to a major collaborative interdisciplinary project. In parts three and four of the Museum Course groups are formed and students must complete the eight-month phase of their project together. While groups generally perform well, some students may experience interpersonal challenges if they have poor groups dynamics for some or the duration of the project. In order to lessen the chance of students having a negative group experience, this research study develops a list of recommendations to improve future course offerings. In order to do that, this study first reviews current best practices of group formation for long-term undergraduate groups projects to assess if the course is aligned with these practices. Second, this study uses qualitative data from interviews with past Knowledge Integration students who have recently completed the Museum Course to understand their unique challenges. The recommendations made by this study will be tailored not only to long-term undergraduate groups projects, but specifically to this unique four-part course.

The (im)mobilized city: The right to the city and Toronto's struggle with modernity and identity

Will Turman

Supervisor: Julia Seirlis, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development and St. Paul's University College

Abstract:

This paper is an exploration of how cities conform to David Harvey's idea of the right to the city: the agency to practice everyday life in urban space, thereby creating it. Here, this concept is instead approached from its opposite: the ways in which urban space shapes or controls people. A city in which individuals are controlled is immobilized—unable to move across the social and economic spectrum, unable to communicate, and unable to physically move: constricted and congested. Toronto serves as the case study for exploring these themes through the examination of three aspects: roads, houses, and the newly proposed waterfront development by Google subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs. Important to the findings are that Toronto's identity is obsessed with being modern, a paradox in which the act of becoming modern requires forgetting—an amnesia. Without memory, its inhabitants are unable to practice the everyday life that was tied to it. The modern city, to invent itself, must dictate how people are to live there. Modernity is driven by global economic forces that commodify history and identity, an aesthetic. These aesthetic allusions to a pre-modern identity do not inherently create the associated way of life, as diverse functions do not inherently create a social mix. This research implies that identity cannot be induced and that developments such as Sidewalk Labs may serve to reduce agency in urban space.

Escaping the Office: Developing Escape Room Experiences to Improve Corporate Small Group Teambuilding

Jessilyn Wolfe

Supervisor: John McLevey, Knowledge Integration

Abstract:

Escape rooms are “live-action team-based games where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited amount of time” ¹. Many escape rooms are marketed towards corporate clients, claiming to improve teamwork and communication skills between the players who participate². However, most escape room experiences rely on the innate nature of these challenges to promote teambuilding, rather than designing experiences based on current teambuilding research. Team building interventions generally involve elements from four different distinct models: goal setting, developing interpersonal relations, clarifying roles and problem solving³. Productive teams understand the rules and expectations of their work and this understanding contributes to effective communication4. Members of effective teams are also able to maintain situational awareness, which is to say they do not only remain aware their own work, but also the work of other team members’5. Considering these aspects of effective teams, I have designed an escape room experience with specifically designed puzzles and multiple debrief periods to improve teambuilding skills for corporate small groups.

Designing and developing mkd3, software for learning about academic literature

Rachel W.

Supervisor: John McLevey, Knowledge Integration

Abstract:

Metadata about academic literature can be very useful for researchers, particularly when first searching for literature in a given field. It becomes more useful when presented in an easy to understand format. Software exists to help researchers interpret this data, some of which are graphical user interfaces (GUIs) which can be easier for users who don’t have a technical background. McLevey, McIlroy-Young, and Anderson have developed a Python library, metaknowledge, which allows for bibliometric and network analysis of academic literature1,2. This can be very useful to researchers who have an understanding of computer programming, but can be difficult for those lacking that expertise. mkd3 is a web app built with Python that uses the capabilities of metaknowledge to analyze metadata in the background, while being accessible to users via a GUI. Users can provide metadata obtained from the results of a search in an academic database or citation index, and mkd3 will produce a report containing interactive graphs made with JavaScript library D33. mkd3 aims to communicate summaries of the metadata in an easily interpretable way.