Each student in the Knowledge Integration Senior Research Project (two-term course, INTEG 420/421) works on a short research project under the dual direction of a member of the Centre for 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 Friday, March 30, 2012.
Indicator for the Millennium Development Goal, Universal Primary Education, Poorly Tracks Students’ Learning
Supervisor: Steve Furino, Mathematics
This study examines whether or not net enrollment ratio, an indicator for the Millennium Development Goal, universal primary education, is as a suitable proxy for students’ learning of hard and soft skills. The motivation behind universal primary education is to ensure that students are learning the basic skills necessary to overcome poverty. Simple linear regressions were conducted between net enrollment ratio and various global assessments. These included Grade 4 and Grade 8 Assessments from the 2007 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Grade 4 assessment from the 2006 Performance in International Reading Study (PIRLS). Results showed that there is a significant relationship between Grade 8 TIMSS mathematics and science assessments as well as PIRLS Grade 4 reading assessment. However, confidence intervals and the R2value revealed that this relationship is weak. When combined with anomalies in the distribution of results, we conclude that net enrollment ratio is a poor proxy and more culturally sensitive measures are needed.
Organizational Motivations for Social Media Adoption and Use among Established Canadian News Providers
Supervisor: Peter Carr, Management Sciences
Over the past decade, television, magazine, and broadsheet news publishers have subscribed en masse to online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Informed by historical, psychological, organizational, and communications research, this project develops a multidimensional understanding of what motivated this sudden and significant change in corporate strategy and consumer preferences. Semi-structured interviews with leaders and decision makers in established Canadian news organizations help to further evaluate this process. We argue that organizational engagement with social networks is motivated by a top-down push to pursue strategic marketing and management goals. Established Canadian news providers see social networks as a method of increasing readership and of improving online advertising revenue, but there are also more complex factors at play, including marketplace competition, team efforts to maintain employee engagement, and the promotion of altruistic corporate values.
Assessing tree species biodiversity and soil quality of an alvar red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) plantation at Misery Bay Provincial Park, ON
Supervisor: Sara Ashpole, School of Planning
Biodiversity is a measurement of the species richness and evenness of an ecosystem. This study focuses on analyzing biodiversity at a red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) plantation in Misery Bay Provincial Park located on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. As a restoration strategy, red pines were planted at the site following a forest fire in the 1960s. Methods for analyzing tree species biodiversity, the soil macronutrients phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, and soil pH were used to determine the quality of habitat of the plantation compared to adjacent and reference mixed woodland alvar sites. Tree and sapling species sampling was done using a point centre quartered method. Two biodiversity indices, Shannon and Simpson, were applied to the collected data and show that the biodiversity values for the red pine plantation are lower than the other two sites. The results of the soil analysis indicate that nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorus are lower within the red pine plantation compared to a reference site but potassium is present in higher quantities. The pH of the soil varied between soil horizons and was slightly more acidic within the plantation. Further analysis of the soil nutrient content and pH is needed to determine statistical significance.
Assessing organizational identity, identification, and its potential impacts: A case study of two undergraduate programs at a Canadian university
Supervisor: Larry Smith, Economics
Understanding organizational identity, a concept defined by Whetten in 1985 as “the central and enduring attributes of an organization that distinguish it from other organizations”, is valuable to an organization because it reveals how its members internalize its observable characteristics. The embodiment (or lack thereof) of these forms the basis of organizational identification. This pilot study expands the scholarship on organizational identity and identification through a survey of 81 students (49 complete responses) from two University of Waterloo programs: Knowledge Integration and International Development. The survey seeks to quantify the participants’ identification with their respective programs, their shared faculty (the Faculty of Environment), and the university (UW), as well as the respective claimed and understood organizational identities of each separate group. Although the results indicate that a quantitative approach is a meaningful method of measuring organizational identification and identity, the organizational identity of the programs could not be meaningfully assessed because of a low survey completion rate and a vast variation in responses. The design of this pilot study allows it to become a scalable study to measure the organizational identity of larger organizations and the smaller subunits of which they are comprised.
Illustration of muscle activity during human gait using electromyography data
Supervisor: Linda Carson, Knowledge Integration
The beauty and form of the human body has often been the subject of artwork, and the movement and mechanics of the human body have been similar explored by scientists over the years. However, a combination of these two elements holds value as both an advancement of anatomical artwork and as a reference for scientific study. This project uses electromyography data collected during human gait to create eight life-size figure drawings. These eight drawings represent the stages of the gait cycle to show the levels of muscle activity during movement. The end result is a series of drawings that create a visual illustration of the flow of human gait that is simultaneously a work of anatomical artwork that emphasizes the grace of the human body during movement and a technical diagram to be used for scientific reference. This work may be displayed in a gallery or similar setting as part of an art exhibition to expose laypersons to anatomical artwork, but also may be used in an educational manner to aid in the teaching of anatomy and biomechanics. A promising future addition to this work will be a similar project examining symptomatic gait.
The development of a science audio program in podcast form, Avioyak, intended for a general audience
Supervisor: LeeAnn Fishback, Science Coordinator at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre
The Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) mandate “to understand and sustain the North” through research and educational programs provides a broad framework for collaboration between subarctic research and education. To meet this mandate, an online audio podcast, Avioyak, was created to engage a dispersed and varied audience by translating specialized scientific knowledge through firsthand accounts by the researcher, which was simplified and made more accessible by adding narration. Fourteen scientists actively carrying out research at the CNSC during the summer of 2011 were interviewed to create five, 20 minute long episodes focusing on ecological concepts. The creation of the podcast occurred in 5 steps: design of each episode, prototyping the first two designs with feedback from audience surveys, production of the final episodes, creation of the accompanying website, and promotion of the podcast. This audio podcast overcame the barriers of science illiteracy, language and public indifference to integrate science knowledge into an accessible public forum.
Clinical Ethics Committees as a Model for Socially Relevant Philosophy of Science
Supervisor: Kathryn Plaisance, Knowledge Integration and Philosophy
Recent work in a new project calling for a more socially relevant philosophy of science has suggested philosophers of science should engage directly with scientists, and with stakeholders who have a vested interest in scientific research. The goals of this engagement are to improve scientific research, applications thereof, philosophical theories, and interactions between expert and lay communities. In hospitals and other medical institutions, clinical ethics committees advise on philosophically troubling problems that arise in medical practice. These committees are typically interdisciplinary, often including philosophers alongside hospital workers. In this project, I use clinical ethics committees as a model for doing socially relevant philosophy of science. Section I describes socially relevant philosophy of science and the benefits of such work. Section II introduces clinical ethics committees, their functions, membership, and motivations. Section III uses clinical ethics committees to develop a model for similar committees in scientific practice, which I call philosophy of science committees. Section IV discusses some challenges faced by clinical ethics committees in anticipation of similar issues for philosophy of science committees.
The Slow Food Movement: A Comparison between Canadian and Italian Cultures
Supervisor: Adriano Gabriel Niccoli, Italian and French Studies, St. Jerome's University
The Slow Food Movement was created in 1986 in response to fast food and society’s “fast living.” The movement created by Carlo Petrini rejected the idea of fast food restaurants in favour of using local ingredients to create dishes that respect the environment and promote healthier lifestyles. Slow Food currently exists in 132 countries and has grown to over 100 000 members since its start in Italy. However, the Slow Food Movement has made a “slow move” to Canada. There are cultural differences that have allowed for slow food to permeate into Italy but not quite into Canada. However, it is not only cultural differences but also geographical, political and historical changes that affect the way a culture eats. The three tenets of Slow Food include the values of being “good, clean and fair” which describe the movement and its purpose to society. These ideals bring forth issues such as affordability, accessibility, globalization, convenience and sustainability as reasons for choosing or perhaps not choosing this lifestyle of eating. Despite slow food being a larger movement in Italy, there are also some influences from the West (North America) that have shifted the “slow life” into a fast paced lifestyle for the younger generation of Italians. In addition to cross-cultural movements, multiculturalism also plays a role in the decisions of everyday people whether they are in Canada or Italy.
The effect of edge characteristics on social epidemic progression
Supervisor: Daniel Lizotte, Computer Science
The spread of social epidemics, from Pokémon cards to Google plus, is a fascinating and important phenomenon of modern online culture. Marketers want to know how to get word of their products out. Savvy consumers want to know which products will “catch on” and which will not. This project assesses our ability to model the spread of such social epidemics on a network by representing individuals as nodes and their relationships as edges (a.k.a. ties or links) between nodes. Prior work has investigated how to model the effect of the node characteristics on the spread of the social epidemic. Instead, we propose a statistical framework that models the effect of edge characteristics – that is, the characteristics of the relationships between individuals – on the progression of social epidemics. Our model allows us to test theories of social epidemic progression. In addition to this conceptual framework, we provide software that can generate or process social network data, assign properties to those nodes, simulate the spread of the social epidemic, and output statistics and visuals to aid analysis.
Collaborative Communication: Epistemic Perspectives on Aboriginal-Western Scientific Collaboration in Canada
Supervisor: Jean Becker, Senior Advisor, Aboriginal Initiatives, Wilfrid Laurier University
While it has been readily acknowledged that complex global problems typically require interdisciplinary solutions, infrequently is adequate attention given to the diversity of paradigms and types of knowledge that may also come into contact while conducting research and generating policy solutions. In the Canadian context, researching and addressing scientific challenges often requires collaboration between Western academic communities and the long-term Indigenous inhabitants of the land. Research in feminist and social epistemology could contribute a great deal to this discussion, both in terms of affirming the importance and legitimacy of Indigenous voices as absolutely essential to the dialogue, and in addressing failures in current approaches to collaboration. In this paper, I offer a brief overview of such potential epistemic contributions, attempts at communication through co-management regimes, and opportunities for the future.
From theory to practice: developing the preconditions for group creativity
Supervisor: Ed Jernigan, Knowledge Integration
Enterprises seeking competitive advantage often turn to creativity to enhance the problem solving ability of their teams. Cultivating an atmosphere that is conducive to creativity ensures that when step-by-step problem-solving recipes are implemented, the best result emerges. These preconditions include autonomy, intrinsic motivation, freedom to fail, positivity, planning and creative skills. In order to move beyond theory to practical application of creativity enhancement, exercises are proposed that directly target each of these characteristics, improving the team environment and increasing the probability of creativity. An experiment was conducted to determine the correlation between the existence of these preconditions in the group and the group’s creativity, and between the precondition and the activity chosen to represent it. Next steps and further applications of this research are discussed.
Language Disorders and the Genetic Basis of Language
Supervisor: Katherine White, Psychology
Many developmental Language Disorders have a biological basis. As a result, researchers turn to Language Disorders for insight into the genetic foundation of Language. This paper will address the utility of Language Disorder research through case studies on Specific Language Impairment, Non-specific Language Impairment and William's Syndrome. Understanding the genetic cause of these Language Disorders is simply a starting point: further research on the role of compensatory mechanisms, gene interactions and neuroanatomical changes in these disorders will lead to the refinement of diagnostic tools, and to a better understanding of Language itself, how it develops in an individual, and how it evolved.
Sustaining ecological integrity, culture, and recreation through improved integration of parks and trails
Supervisor: Stephen Murphy, Environment and Resource Studies
With increasing urbanization and environmental degradation arises the need to address our impact on our environment. Urban parks and trails have the potential to solve problems of disconnectivity between habitat patches that threatens the integrity of urban ecosystems by creating ecological corridors. They also provide an avenue for cultural events and recreational activities which helps build strong communities. Greenway implementation and concepts of reconciliation ecology are strategies to achieve these integrated systems. Using a short section of the Iron Horse Trail in Kitchener as a case study, I was able to compare the current situation with the City’s plans and strategies to assess its efficacy. The City recognizes the relationship between environmental and humans needs, however it does not directly plan towards their reconciliation.
Performative Polyphony in Crisis Time
Supervisor: Tara Collington, French Studies
The work of the Russian literary philosopher and theoretician M. Bakhtin has attracted intense interest over the past thirty years. However, his particular theories, if they can even be termed theories, continue to present problems and challenges in literary analysis. In particular, Bakhtin’s theory of literary polyphony is a notoriously difficult analytic tool. Polyphony, a neologism chosen by Bakhtin, immediately recalls the term’s musical heritage. Several critics, including Malcuzynski, Wall and Benson, have examined the meaning transfer caused by this musical connection. However, literary polyphony is primarily a theory of the creative process according to Morson and Emerson. As such, polyphony in a novel is more closely related to the performance of a piece of music rather than to the physical manifestation of the score. Both types of polyphony are thus examples of utterances in the rich Bakhtinian sense of the word. Polyphony arises through the dialogue between an author and his or her hero/heroine; a dialogue that is animated by the crisis points experienced by the hero/heroine. These crisis points significantly take place on the boundary or threshold of the public square. Bakhtin placed particular emphasis on this aspect of the polyphony in Dostoevsky’s novels in Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Two novels by Tahar Ben Jelloun, L’enfant de sable (1985) and La nuit sacrée (1987) which contain a total of eight narrators, effectively illustrate the importance to polyphony not only of multiple and independent voices or consciousness, but of a new conception of time and space.
Mediums and Messages: The Evolution of Communication from Thought to Tweet
Brittney Jordan Nottrodt
Supervisor: Andrew Houston, Drama and Speech Communication
Any shift in communication leads to changes within ourselves, our relationships and our connection to the world. As communication evolves, it completely changes the way we live our lives. In the 1400s when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, people, society, and the relationships within, radically evolved. Currently we are experiencing another major shift in communication through online realms, social media, and instant messaging. The Internet and online spaces have evolved to transform communication once again. These shifts in communication bring about major changes in human interaction and the functions of society. The many mediums we use in communication influence our connections, encounters, and our overall relationships. Marshall Mcluhan’s coined phrase, ‘the medium is the message’ 7 remains true today. In our immersive world, the many mediums with which we choose to interact or communicate influence the end message. Each tool or form we use in communicating sends a new message, which affects the outcome. When we change how we communicate with others, we are changing how we interact with them. Understanding the mediums we use is essential to understanding ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.
Network Relation Analysis and Connection Visualization Using Graph Theory and Wikipedia
Supervisor: J.P. Pretti, Mathematics
Data visualization is growing in popularity as a tool for effective technical communication. There is inherent merit in organizing and displaying information in creative new ways. This project aims to create an effective connections communication tool. Its purpose is to show how all things are connected. This has been accomplished through an online web application that scans Wikipedia and organizes the topics based on related content. For example, each hypertext (blue) linked article is associated with the article it is in. Through this, a network of related concepts is created. Concept maps (graphs) are then automatically generated showing the relations between articles in a visual fashion. Connecting these concept maps allows users to see the associations between various concepts allowing for further analysis and comparison. Further ease of use and analysis potential is added with the implementation of rating and filter controls for connections. By allowing users to rank connections the functionality of filtering better connections is introduced and can help users tailor their search criteria. This application can function as a brainstorming assistant or a communication tool. There also exists the possibility to expand its functionality and usefulness. Overall it can help people realize the connections between things, and assist with brainstorming and interdisciplinary problem solving in today’s world.
Finding the most ethically balanced system for organ donations
Supervisor: Brian Orend, Philosophy
Theoretically there are many ways of organising the consent systems requiring for obtaining organ and tissue donations. In practice there are two that are widely used among developed nations: presumed consent (opt-out) and expressed consent (opt-in) systems. Does one system of organ donation better protect a patient's right to autonomous decision making and informed consent? I intend to analyse the relevant legal documents from Ontario, Canada and France that outline how organ donation is regulated in order to determine the benefits and ethical consequences of each system. I will be comparing them based on how well they fulfill current legal definitions of autonomy and informed consent. I will also outline several alternative systems that are gaining attention in the media and how they aim, successfully or not, to improve upon the current systems. In conclusion my paper will determine which of the available organ and tissue procurement policies is the most ethically balanced, in considering a patient’s right to autonomy and informed consent, while still maintaining some consideration for the family and remaining efficient at procuring donations.
The creation of an understandable and accessible web resource to inform consumers about conventional and alternative methods of coffee production
Supervisor: Bruce Frayne, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
Coffee is an integral part of Western culture, interwoven into morning rituals, social events, and personal habits. Meanwhile, research for this project has shown that it is common for consumers not to know how coffee is produced, nor the standards for, or implications of, various systems of coffee production. The goal of this project is to provide a web-based resource for the average consumer that provides an accessible and understandable overview of coffee production so they may become more informed of what their purchases are supporting. This project is not meant to provide definitive answers of which system is best, but to provide an accessible resource that will describe and review the most common production systems, provide resources for further research, discuss which system(s) is supported by popular retailers, and give suggestions that consumers may choose to follow to improve their impact on those involved in coffee production—all in one place.
Game Design Semiotics Framework
Supervisor: Neil Randall, Department of English Language and Literature
Semiotics, or the study of signs and sign processes, can be applied to game design to examine how meaning is made through player engagement and interaction. A Game Design Semiotics framework provides a way to describe the narrative structure, system interactions, and player engagement inherent in a game or game-like system. A semiotics approach focuses on the messages and preferred readings of those messages inherent in the game as a system. Exploring the interactions and interpretations can be the basis for analyzing and comparing a broad class games because of the universal nature of signs, as well as mitigate the lack of universal game terminology. This semiotics approach is consistent with conceptualizations of games as composed of ideal, constructed, and interaction spaces, or viewed in terms of their mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics. As a tool, GDS can discern functional units of representational, interactive, and compositional elements at a conceptual level, for evaluation, refinement, and reuse. Using such a framework to understand games is useful for the design and iteration of game-like systems, and offers insight on user interface design, user experience, and game design principles.
Exploring the “Wicked Problem” of Underrepresentation: Undergraduate Women in Computer Science
Supervisors: Kathryn Plaisance, Knowledge Integration and Philosophy; and Prabhakar Ragde, Computer Science
Ever since women courageously demanded access to academia and professional careers outside of their homes, complex social factors have interacted to restrict their choices, education, and career advancement. Although we live in a society that purports to be equal, why is the number of women pursuing undergraduate degrees in computer science so low compared to their male peers? In an attempt to untangle the major social forces that cause women's underrepresentation in computer science education, it was found that this problem is actually a type of complex, challenging design problem first defined by Rittel as a “wicked problem.” A preliminary case study of the status of women at the University of Waterloo's David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science was conducted with the insight and collaboration of students and faculty members in this program. An approach incorporating interdisciplinary and design practices and which includes philosophers of science, and other noncomputer science scholars, is suggested and explored.
Analogical processing can evoke emotion while reading fiction
Megan Vander Woude
Supervisor: Paul Thagard, Philosophy; and Sarah Tolmie, English Language and Literature
A large part of why we love fiction comes from the emotional experience of reading, and there are many techniques that writers use to give this effect, such as analogy. Research in analogical processing suggests certain types of analogies can evoke emotion. With the help of current cognitive research, I conducted a case study and analysis of my own reactions to analogy in fiction. I expected to see emotional responses from analogy, particularly those involving aspects external from the text at hand. My research shows analogy as an effective way for writers to evoke emotion in fictional works, similar to the ways that current cognitive theories suggest. This case study does not offer analogy as the sole literary technique to evoke emotion – there are undoubtedly many more to explore. However, it does provide a cognitive view of analogy in literature, and illustrates the potential this perspective could have for further research in understanding the effects of analogy and why we read fiction.
Investigating the use of e-Portfolios in the Knowledge Integration undergraduate program
Supervisor: Katherine Lithgow, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Knowledge Integration is a new degree at the University of Waterloo, and the first of its kind anywhere. The program faces many of the same challenges any new degree would: creating a sense of community, having new instructors, and building a name on campus, in the community, and beyond. It also face challenges as a unique program, including describing the degree to others and showcasing student work. With the first cohort about to graduate, there is an opportunity to review the program. Three useful areas of review of the Knowledge Integration undergraduate degree have been identified for further research: communication amongst students and between students and teaching instructors, integration of courses and learning objectives over the degree, and portfolio capabilities for students in the program. This project will investigate specific ways to use ePortfolio technology to improve communication, integration, and portfolio capabilities in the Knowledge Integration program. The use of ePortfolios serves multiple purposes including learning, assessment and employment (1). The University of Waterloo is piloting a new Learning Management System provided by Desire2Learn with an integrated ePortfolio feature that enables students to keep a digital archive of information throughout their degree (2).