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 will present poster displays of their projects on Wednesday, April 4. Details at: Knowledge Integration Symposium 2018
Conference-style papers: <PDF will be posted early April>
Recruitment in Knowledge Integration: Analyzing Communication Tools to Enhance Student Recruitment Messaging
Supervisors: Rob Gorbet, Knowledge Integration and Tina Roberts, Marketing & Undergraduate Recruitment, University of Waterloo
Knowledge Integration has long been aware that, as a program, it has struggled to attract interest from students at the high school level. The structure of the program resembles an Arts and Science degree, with a bit of a twist. However, to the students, the faculty, and the greater University of Waterloo community, the degree goes far beyond that. Students, Staff, and Faculty all see the strengths that Knowledge Integration brings as an interdisciplinary degree. The question is; when we say that Knowledge Integration has these many strengths, what does this mean?
To answer that question, I took a two-step approach to analyzing Knowledge Integration’s recruitment messaging. As a first step, I completed an environmental scan of the Knowledge Integration program. This scan was designed to help our team better understand how different stakeholders at the University of Waterloo viewed the program and the benefits it provides students. Out of the scan came the development of eight distinct program strengths. From these strengths we designed the second step to the project, a survey that was administered to all applicants to Knowledge Integration for Fall 2018. We used the survey as a tool to evaluate how applicant level students responded to the different program strengths, on both a strength-by-strength basis and in comparison to other strengths. The feedback from the survey was compared with the environmental scan results so we could critically analyze connections between applicant survey responses and stakeholder viewpoints. The results from this analysis will contribute to the continued improvement and iteration of Knowledge Integration’s communication tools and will hopefully be a complimentary recruitment tool for years to come!
Supervisor: Andrew McMurry, English Language and Literature
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 that favoritism. The purpose of this paper is to investigate if there are more than just historical influences as to why the traditional 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
Supervisor: Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language and Literature
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 that was analyzed offered different emphasis on certain applications over others. Further, it was found that blog posts and Reddit discussions contained more technical discussion than the traditional media articles. The results of this case study will allow me to make conclusions that science communicators can apply to help them achieve their communication objectives. My results could benefit scientists, science communicators, and audiences alike by providing a deeper understanding of the impacts of accommodation across genres on factors like reach and audience engagement.
Digital Patient Experience Platform: Designing a collaborative patient experience program for health system improvements in Waterloo-Wellington
Supervisor: Paul Stolee, School of Public Health and Health Systems
The Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) plans to establish a patient experience program (PEP) as apart of their 2017/2018 business objectives (WWLHIN, 2017). 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 demonstrate shared constraints of requiring engagement to be facilitated through scheduled meetings. These programs raise accessibility issues that require time and travel commitment from patients and caregivers rather than giving flexibility to members to participate on their own accord. The current absence of a WWLHIN PEP presents the opportunity to determine how elements of citizen engagement can be incorporated in a healthcare planning context to include the dynamic relationship between stakeholders and citizens, translation of knowledge and communication regarding the level of engagement (McNeil, 2016). As a motivation to address this gap, the Digital Patient Experience Platform (DPEP) proposes taking the experience of co-designing an improved patient experience to a digital platform. The DPEP is designed using a synthesis of the framework for engaging older adults in healthcare research and planning as described by McNeil et al. 2016 with the IDEO human centered design methodology. DPEP is a website concept for citizens in the Waterloo-Wellington community to crowd share ideas on how to improve the local healthcare system and facilitate patient and caregiver engagement among healthcare professionals, LHIN administrators and the Waterloo-Wellington community institutions. The website allows for flexibility in engagement for the citizens to be informed, consulted and partnered as apart of the PEP. With this DPEP design the WWLHIN can create a PEP that integrates citizen collaboration with community stakeholders and empower citizens when their ideas are implemented to improve the Waterloo-Wellington healthcare.
High School Outreach, Enriched: A Pilot Recruitment Program for the Department of Knowledge Integration
Supervisor: Paul McKone, Knowledge Integration
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. Indeed, the University of Waterloo has a long history of outreach-through-enrichment, including the well-acclaimed Engineering Science Quest and SHAD programs. 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.
Supervisor: Allyson Stokes, Knowledge Integration
We typically think of organizations like banks and hospitals as “traditional organizations,” defined by rational, bureaucratic processes. However, creativity is playing an increasingly important role in how traditional organizations operate. From incorporating innovation labs in government to hiring design teams at banks, traditional organizations are looking to use creative processes to address their complex problems. In turn, creative workers must adapt their processes to fit within the existing environments of traditional organizations. Despite this trend, there is little research outlining the exact processes these organizations use to implement creativity, and whether the current attempts follow the best practices for becoming creative defined by experts and researchers. This thesis aims to address these gaps by answering 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 this question, I conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with two groups. The first group were “creativity consultants”, individuals who are hired as external contractors to facilitate the integration of creative processes in organizations. The second group were individuals working for traditional organizations incorporating creative work, specifically those working for internal innovation labs and creative departments (marketing, design etc.). These interviews were used to inform the following preliminary findings: 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. 3) Traditional organizations lack a common understanding of the language surrounding creative work, largely because this language adapts and changes often. This project contributes to our knowledge about how creativity works in traditional organizations and offers recommendations about how to integrate creativity into traditional organizations in effective and sustainable ways.
Supervisor: Sharon Secord, Drama and Speech Communication
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 create a line of androgynous professional wear that can be worn by anyone, regardless of their body type or gender identity?
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.
Too many children, not enough homes : Examining how foster parent – caseworker relationships affect retention of foster parents in Ontario
Supervisor: Jason Blokhuis, Social Development Studies, Renison University College
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 (Daniel, 2001; Gibbs & Wildfire, 2007; Rhodes, Orme & Buehler, 2001; Rodger, Cummings & Leschied, 2006; MacGregor, Rodger, Cummings & Leschied, 2006; Spielfogel, Leathers, Christian & McMeel, 2001; Triseliotis, Borland & Hill, 1998; Denby, Rindfleisch & Bean, 1999).
While foster parents are primarily motivated by altruism (Baum, Crase & Crase, 2001; MacGregor, Rodger, Cummings & Leschied, 2006; Rodger, Cummings & Leschied, 2006), 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
Supervisor: Barry Colbert, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University
Businesses operate in a complex nexus of economic, environmental, and social systems that affect their business strategy (Porter and Kramer, 2006). Publicly listed corporations also have a fiduciary duty to disclose relevant business issues to their stakeholders. Consequently, the field of corporate responsibility (CR) communication has emerged. As of 2017, the most frequent medium used in CR communication is the CR report, with 93% of the world’s largest 250 companies creating an annual, standalone CR report to disclose the environmental, social, and economic impacts of their business (KPMG, 2017). While the CR report has become ubiquitous, it is not mandatory and standardization of format and content varies to the point that there is a distrust in CR reporting (PWC, 2014). International organizations like the Global Reporting Initiative have created frameworks aiming to standardize environmental, social, and corporate governance issues into relevant categories, but the “overwhelming” number of frameworks have instead been seen as diminishing the value of CR reporting (SRA, 2016). As a result, initiatives like the Corporate Reporting Dialogue aim to harmonize the framework’s differences (IIRC, 2016), but in the meantime, the CR practitioners creating reports are left to decide how to best articulate their companies’ CR impacts. It is in this context that this study aims to understand the current state of CR reports, the frameworks that inform them, and the reasoning of the individuals who create them. Through content analysis, the researcher will analyze Canadian corporations’ CR reports under three dominant CR frameworks to test their interchangeability, and through semi-structured interviews with CR practitioners, investigate the decision making behind the report’s content.
Designing a Cross-Cultural Engagement Program for Migrant and Japanese Children in Japanese Elementary Schools
Supervisor: David Welch, Balsillie School of International Affairs
This research and design project is twofold. 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) who were dispatched to Japan and to developing countries. Second, to design a new cross-cultural engagement program, the Shared-Curriculum, that leverages the experience and knowledge of international program participants with the aim of assisting teachers in empowering culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children in their classrooms. Through interviewing the participants and alumni from both international programs, common themes emerged such as challenge and support. These common themes were combined with existing initiatives in immigrant children integration in designing the structure and content of the SC program. This conference paper provides a brief overview of interview findings that inspired the design of the SC program. The details of the program itself can be found in the accompanying “Activity Playbook” which outlines the details of the program, considerations, and how it may be pilot tested. (Participants and alumni from the two programs will be collectively referred to as JETs & JOCVs).
Supervisor: Horatiu Rus, Economics
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.
Supervisor: Christine Zaza, Centre for Teaching Excellence
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, 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.
A systematic review of the benefits to musical training for the resilience of neuro-degeneration leading to Parkinson’s disease
Supervisor: Maisie Sum, Music, Conrad Grebel University College
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.
Supervisors: Nicholas Ray, Philosophy and Kathryn Plaisance, Knowledge Integration
This research paper is an investigation into the effective advocacy of veganism on a person-to-person level. I establish veganism as not merely a dietary choice, but a lifestyle based on an ethical belief that we should minimize animal exploitation. I talk about how one would actually apply veganism to everyday life, and highlight the fact that not all vegans agree on every issue. I primarily discuss two groups: those that I call “pragmatic vegans”, and those I call “absolutist vegans”. I argue that absolutist vegans are probably right on many issues, but despite my agreeing with them, we—as vegans—need to recognize that the world is not going to go 100% vegan overnight, or perhaps ever. While this is disappointing, the reduction of animal exploitation is not all-or-nothing; we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Thus, we must be “pragmatic vegans”. But how do we begin to convince more people to go vegan in a pragmatic way? I synthesize information from philosophical discussions about effective arguments for veganism and cognitive science research into emotion- and reason-based decision-making to find an answer. The conclusion I come to is that presenting someone with arguments from analogy while also taking their current perspective into consideration is likely an effective way of convincing them to reduce their contribution to animal exploitation, perhaps even convincing them to go vegan.
Supervisor: Daniel Henstra, Political Science
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.
Supervisor: Mary Lynne Bartlett, University of Waterloo Library
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 busy (Miller, 2011). 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.
Supervisor: Geertruida (Margreet) de Rooij-Mohle, Germanic and Slavic Studies
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.
Supervisor: Denise Whitehead, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies, St. Jerome’s University
In the 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 the 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; a Parent Coordinator can only be ordered upon consent of the parties. This presentation will report on the results of an in-depth literature review and key informant interviews about whether Ontario should amend the Family Law Act to incorporate court-ordered parent coordination, informed by the British Columbia model.
Supervisor: Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, English Language and Literature
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.
Supervisor: Julia Seirlis, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development and St. Paul's University College
We live in a world designed by someone. The way we live and our identity is influenced by these designs—designs writ large on the city. David Harvey discusses the Right to the City as the right to determine that design, as it becomes our way of life. This paper is an examination of personal agency, the right to the city, in Toronto through three lenses: roads, houses, and technology. Different thinkers' ideas will be used to evaluate these lenses, Henri Lefebvre's spatial triad, Foucault's discipline, and above all the concept of amnesia—the paradox of a 'modern identity'. When and where Toronto tries to be a modern, globally-oriented, economical city, it is forced reinvent itself: a process that leaves the past behind and immobilizes the people by dictating how the people are to behave as 'modern people'.
Supervisor: John McLevey, Knowledge Integration