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 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 Friday, March 27. Details at: Knowledge Integration Symposium 2015
Conference-style papers: KI Symposium Proceedings 2015 (PDF)
Studying the relationship between student understanding of librarian skills and student usage of library resources
Supervisor: Marian Davies, Library
The diverse skills and capabilities of librarians are often not understood by the general public, the people they seek to serve. This study will look into students’ choices and preferences pertaining to their use of library resources and how they can be related to what students know about librarians’ specialist skills. Data will be collected on the resources students use, how frequently they use them, how valuable the resources are to their education, and what they know about librarians. Student usage and preference data will be grouped and compared by how accurate their understanding of librarians is. This study expects to find two things. The first is that resources dependent on librarian skills are used and valued less by students than auxiliary resources. The second is that usage of librarian resources is lower among students with a less accurate understanding of librarians’ expert skills. The results of this study can be used to inform those developing library resources on what resources students will be inclined to use while also informing promotional strategies on what it takes to achieve higher rates of use.
Supervisor: Vanessa Schweizer, Knowledge Integration
Human activities, both locally and globally, alter the nature and location of rare, indigenous, or delicate ecosystems. Land use policy and planning should reflect these changes, particularly as this pertains to adapting the borders and uses of protected lands to mirror the change in ecosystems. Some scholars have found that traditional conservation policy objectives, such as protecting threatened species, may no longer be viable as entire ecosystems rapidly evolve. Furthermore, although site professionals and policy-makers are aware that traditional objectives for protected areas may need to be revised, they still prefer implementing conventional policy. This project will interrogate these findings by discussing the results of an ongoing case study on a currently protected area in Southern Ontario that has been changing rapidly or is expected to change rapidly as a result of human activities. MacGregor Point Provincial Park is a relevant example. Located on the shore of Lake Huron, it serves as an important flyway for migratory birds, while also supporting a diverse range of marine life. Additionally, it provides permanent habitat for unique wetland species. Through literature review, document analysis, as well as testimony collected in semi-structured interviews with site professionals, the project will capture the concerns of practicing conservationists and make recommendations for future directions for conservation policy in the face of anthropogenic climate change.
Exploring the Challenges of Invisibility in Ubiquitous Computing Environments and Best Practices for User Centered Design
Supervisor: Linda Carson, Independent Studies
Computers are no longer limited to desktops, but surround us in many places and capacities. Ubiquitous - a term used to characterize the new mode for emerging technology: computing in such a way that device interactions are well integrated into the background of human experience. With a sea of hardware and software in devices all around us, our problem is not a limitation by the capabilities of technology, but rather what we will do with the new potential for interoperability between devices. This perspective on computing comes with numerous challenges and obstacles such as adaptability, heterogeneity of devices, and invisibility, or transparency of transactions. Invisibility in a ubiquitous environment is a complex issue, and one that I will explore further in both my research, and design project. After examining the challenges, some suggestions for best practices emerge. This is embodied in a web environment that acts as a communication tool, to first explain the context of invisibility in ubiquitous computing and also showcase it in action. The second part of the design project consists of an immersive and interactive example (viewable via internet browser) to illustrate invisibility through the analogy of navigation techniques in website design. Through this exploration of current research and an exercise in design, it becomes apparent that achieving invisibility is a difficult and fragile task, which may be accomplished through the creative use of design principles centred around the user.
A Little Birdie Surveyed Me: Assessing Sample Frames in Survey-Based Research Promoted via Social Media
Supervisor: Markus Moos, School of Planning
Social media—a growing method for sharing and soliciting information—has poorly understood limitations. When promoting a survey—or any other information—through social media platforms, there is no established method to determine who is actually being reached.
Navigating the intersection between planning, research, and social media, this paper develops one such method. Using the open source network visualization tool NodeXL and responses from a small scale survey on cycling, the paper shows how planning professionals and researchers can begin to quantify and qualify their sampling frame when using on-line communications such as Twitter or Facebook. The method is cyclical, with each round of analysis able to benefit future promotion efforts by informing who is actually being reached with a given promotion strategy. This can benefit practitioners or researchers in any field who use social media platforms to promote a survey. Beyond the methodological contribution, this paper contributes theoretically by integrating thought about social media with established thought traditions in planning practice and research.
Supervisor: Chrysanne Di Marco, Computer Science
Students in transition from secondary to post-secondary education are at a vulnerable point in their lives in terms of mental health and wellness. Exacerbating this vulnerability is a frequent lack of awareness of available services and pervasive stigma surrounding mental health. Mobile health and games for health are two emerging fields that together hold promise for reaching post-secondary students due to students’ familiarity with technology, games, and gamification. With this in mind, in this research, concepts were applied from current research in behaviour change, narrative in games, and gamification to create an app to 1) inform students about Thought Spot, a live map of Toronto for students that identifies available mental health and wellness, 2) create attitudes of openness and awareness towards mental health and wellness, and 3) enhance engagement in behaviours to increase mental wellness. Students were involved in playtesting throughout the design process in order to identify issues and possible areas for change or improvement. The final design is aimed at creating an optimal balance between efficacy and engagement to provide students using the app with an experience that is both useful and enjoyable.
Supervisor: Nancy Fenton, School of Public Health and Health Systems
Vaccines are a highly effective public health tool used to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The eradication of smallpox was achieved by public vaccination programs. However, immunisation rates of vaccine-preventable diseases have been falling in North America. This has led to more outbreaks of infectious diseases as the overall immunity of the population is decreasing. People who choose not to vaccinate have multiple reasons not to do so. One of these reasons is that they believe that the risk of vaccination outweighs the risk of contracting an infectious disease and the risks of complications from these diseases. This prevalent idea can be challenged by effective communication and education techniques. Many people educate themselves by starting on the internet where a lot of information is available. A health literacy framework can be used to tailor the way vaccination information is presented on public health institutional websites to increase critical understanding of immunisation. Vaccination information provided on a public health website is analyzed to determine the main themes present. By comparing this with information provided on an anti-vaccination website suggestions will be made on how to change styles of communication to better facilitate health literacy acquisition in regards to immunisation.
Supervisor: Brent Doberstein, Geography and Environmental Management
This paper examines the City of Vancouver’s earthquake preparedness and disaster risk reduction strategies. Connections are drawn between some of the best practices identified from the literature, what San Francisco has learned from its experiences with earthquakes, and what Vancouver can do to improve its current practices. The disciplines of disaster management and sustainable hazard mitigation are ever changing and have only relatively recently become fields of study. Some of the best practices that have emerged from the body of literature concern: government policies and laws; hazard mapping and mitigation, risk assessment and reduction; public awareness, education, and community capacity building; and effectively preparing for the response and recovery. San Francisco, although not perfect, is used as a model city for earthquake preparedness and is compared to Vancouver to help identify weak spots in Vancouver’s preparedness. I have chosen San Francisco as a model city for comparison to Vancouver because the two cities both face the risk of earthquakes, and have similar geographic settings and cultural contexts. Additionally, Vancouver is preparing for a disaster on a scale that it has not experienced in its past, whereas San Francisco has been able to learn from experience instead of theory. Vancouver’s preparedness is assessed based on the best practices I have outlined and on what San Francisco has learned from previous experience.
Geoff Evamy Hill
Supervisor: Patricia Marino, Philosophy
What are the mechanisms that form prices? How well do these prices track perceived value? What interventions might we initiate to help improve how pricing mechanisms track perceived value? These were the questions on my mind as I attempted to understand how we might deal, as a society, with impending threats of climate change. This is based on the assumption that climate change has an apparently non-trivial connection, as seen in common and academic discourse, to pricing externalities. I found that developing heuristic approaches to understanding this matter could lead to very promising solutions. Heuristics are “good enough” techniques that can be used to solve problems, to learn, and to discover. They are not optimal, but experience-based to meet a given set of goals. Their non-optimality is incredibly useful when time is short; resources are lacking, and when the complexity is huge.If we think of price systems as an information technology, we can think of them in a systems engineering framework. I have adapted a tool for assessing communications and signaling in systems engineering for use in economics: a heuristic matrix for anlayzing pricing bias and precision. Heuristically, we can detect bias in pricing through an analysis of what is not included and precision through an assessment of the “fine-tuning” of an economy. We should aspire towards pricing systems that are unbiased and precise. There is no perfect price, but by taking the “via negativa” approach, we can become closer to prices that better represent the world and better represent social and environmental pricing externalities.
There are widespread social norms against sexual promiscuity that are enforced almost entirely against women, in a double standard that is both harmful and unfair. This has been identified as an area of concern by contemporary feminism; there are several projects working on dismantling these norms. Sympathetic to this goal, this project considers the importance of investigating the ultimate origins of these social norms. Using the approach of feminist engagement described by Carla Fehr, this project touches on the large body of research on sociosexual orientation, which examines gender and cultural patterns in whether people tend to restricted or unrestricted sexual behaviour, and how it may be shaped by biological and social factors. While this work is interesting and important, few researchers have explicitly sought to describe of the origins of social norms impacting sociosexual orientation. Of those who have, one explanation – Baumeister’s Female Control Theory – is a regrettable example of the issues Fehr identifies in evolutionary psychology. Rudman et al. convincingly show Male Control Theory – essentially patriarchy – to be a much better explanation. However, many significant complications remain: how should we explain women’s involvement in upholding the sexual double standard? What might the effects of contraception and of changing societal structure be on such complex interconnected biological and social systems? Mathematical models inspired by evolutionary biology and game theory may be an undervalued method of investigating these questions, though owing to the epistemic difficulties involved they should be considered as informative analogies than as definitive representations of human sexuality.
Supervisor: Anna Drake, Political Science
Our current social and political systems marginalize and exploit members of many social groups, tipping the power scales accordingly. This injustice, known as systemic or institutionalized oppression, sustains the inequalities that exist today across social identities such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, age, and class. Systemic oppression is particularly pernicious due to its invisibility when only one element of the system (for example occupation, wage, private life, government, education, etc) is scrutinized, but it is clearly pervasive on a macroscopic level. This pernicious quality leads many people who are not members of those marginalized groups to reject or ignore the resulting inequalities, and render the marginalized individuals or others with positive intentions subject to hermeneutical injustice, as there is a lack of effective resources that adequately explain oppression as a systemic problem. This thesis project will take the form of a pedagogical toolbox, by which feminist teachers, specifically, can learn how to better reach young Canadians and effectively prompt engagement with and understandings of systemic oppression as it relates to feminism. The research informing this toolbox includes a student survey to gauge the level of understanding and engagement University of Waterloo students have with both feminism and issues of systemic oppression, as well as interviews with professors and other activists to identify effective pedagogical methods used to improve student engagement and education. The toolbox itself will include the results from this research, a database of currently available feminist resources, and the basic content required to provide a foundational understanding of feminism and oppression.
The Effectiveness of the TalkingTIles© Augmentative and Alternative Communication App in Improving Communication for Individuals with Aphasia: A Study at the Aphasia Institute in Toronto
Supervisor: Jim Wallace, School of Public Health and Health Systems
Aphasia is a disorder that impairs the comprehension and expression of language. There are many individuals around the world suffering from this condition, including approximately 1,000,000 Americans and 100,000 Canadians. While technological innovation has drastically improved treatment methods for many health issues, verbally impaired individuals have been relying on the same communication tools for a very long time. Although these tools are beneficial, there is still room for improvement. A software company called Mozzaz© has been addressing this issue through their TalkingTIles© computer application. The “app” was created to assist individuals with verbal communication difficulties; however, there is little evidence demonstrating whether it accomplishes this goal for individuals with aphasia. This project aims to address this knowledge gap by assessing whether the TalkingTIles© app improves communication for individuals with aphasia. The assessment will be completed through observing individuals with aphasia using the TalkingTIles© app, after they have been trained to use it. Interviews will also be conducted with the users to get an understanding of their experience with the app. Both descriptive and qualitative data analysis will be utilised to describe the participants’ experiences with the app and to begin assessment of its effectiveness.
Supervisor: Brendon Larson, Environment and Resource Studies
The world is currently facing extinction crises, two of which are the loss of biodiversity and the loss of linguistic diversity. We talk about these crises by saying that languages and species are dying. We give value to species and languages by talking as if each one was a living individual. This paper inspects how the living individual metaphor affects our understanding of species and languages. I examine the implications of this metaphor by extending the characteristics of a lifespan to languages and species and the implications of what conservation methods are seen as being effective in stopping their death. I argue that using this metaphor for species results in good conservation practices since individuals literally die when species die. The living individual metaphor in linguistic diversity causes conservation efforts to be about documentation rather than keeping the language in use. I offer alternative metaphors to change this: languages as tools and O’Driscoll’s proposal of languages as venues.
The Millennial Generation: Understanding of and Need for Information on Farm Animal Welfare in Canada
Supervisor: Michael von Massow, Department of Hospitality Food and Tourism Management, University of Guelph
Over the last ten years there has been an increase in the number of exposé videos that target Canadian livestock producers. With these videos tarnishing the reputation of Canadian farmers, it becomes increasingly important for the food and agriculture industry to educate the public on mainstream farming practices. In order to develop effective teaching programs, these industries will need to identify the needs of their various audiences. This quantitative survey study was done to identify the millennial generation’s understanding of and need for information about farm animal welfare. The survey was aimed at answering five key questions about this population: Are they interested in farm animal welfare? Do they access information on farm animal welfare? If they access this information, where do they get it from and how do they get it? What do they do with this information? What is the best way to educate them about farm animal welfare? One hundred participants filled out the survey over two days at the University of Waterloo Student Life Center. In general, participants cared about farm animal welfare and had accessed information on the topic. The most popular way to learn about farm animal welfare was by websites that were published by animal welfare organizations or news agencies. A surprising number of participants had provided others with information on farm animal welfare and many were interested in learning more about the subject. Most participants wanted to learn about farm animal welfare by visiting a farm or through school.
You are what you eat: An examination of international students' food practices while at the University of Waterloo
Supervisor: Marlene Epp, History and Peace and Conflict Studies
Everybody eats; it is a universal by which we can examine any person. With value beyond nutrition, food carries social meaning that can reinforce personal identities or foster social cohesion and belonging. This meaning has become more salient in our increasingly globalised world, which, marked by migration, has resulted in new expressions of identity. Food and identity studies in Canada have generally focused on immigrant populations, however the international student body offers a distinct context for examination. Unlike immigrants, the international student experience is defined by its transience. This study uses data collected in online surveys and facilitated discussions to examine how international students at the University of Waterloo make choices pertaining to food, how their food practices adapt while abroad, and what significance they find in these choices.
Designing for Crime: A Practical application of Place-Based Crime Prevention Strategies in the Revitalization of the Cedar Hill Neighbourhood in Kitchener, Ontario
Supervisor: Pierre Filion, School of Planning
Design has frequently been used as a tool to facilitate positive social behaviours. Design of an environment can have an immense impact not only on how a space is used, but also how a space is perceived by members of the public. One important behaviour that design can impact is criminal activity. Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is a design philosophy centred around the idea that proper design and effective use of a physical environment can help reduce both the incidence and fear of crime. Through the analysis of this philosophy along with additional literature surrounding place-based crime prevention strategies, I hope to ascertain the impacts that physical design can have on criminal activity. I will be applying these strategies to a theoretical redesign of the Cedar Hill Neighbourhood in Kitchener, Ontario that is known for its high criminal activity and dense population. The ultimate goal of the redesign will be reducing both the criminal activity and fear associated with the area.
Ethical Considerations in Genetic Counselling: An Analysis of Genetic Counsellors' Ethical Training and Practice
Supervisor: Katie Plaisance, Knowledge Integration
Genetic counsellors play a key role in guiding patients through potentially life altering decision-making regarding their health. Through daily practice, counsellors are often required to help patients make various ethical decisions regarding not only their own health, but also the health of their fetus. This study aims to analyze and examine the ethical training genetic counsellor’s have in order to help patients make complex moral decisions. Through online surveys regarding counsellor's comfort level with various ethical issues that arise in practice along with interviewing counsellors to better understand how they approach these issues, I hope to gain a better understanding of their approaches to dealing with moral dilemmas. I will analyze the data by assessing if the responses follow and show an understanding of the principles of biomedical ethics. I will also assess the interview responses to determine how ethics courses and training aid counsellors in making decisions in practice through comparing training with responses. This study will provide an assessment of how well counsellors are prepared to deal with moral and ethical decision-making as well as create recommendations as to how training can be improved.
Supervisor: Heather Douglas, Philosophy
Becoming informed is not easy, and requires time and resources. Even if a person has access to all information regarding a particular topic, it is still possible to arrive at an incorrect conclusion. In order to help deal with the overwhelming amount of information that is now available, we rely on experts to generate new knowledge based on their experience and understanding. Yet despite this arrangement experts and the members of the public often communicate ineffectively. This can be illustrated by the disagreements that exist between expert groups and members of the public – for example climate change deniers and the anti-vaccine movement. There have been multiple social science theories put forward to address these differences. This paper evaluates some of the theories and outlines the development of social science theories regarding science communication – specifically the deficit model, cultural cognition and framing effects. Theories of science communication change as the understanding of how the public assesses information improves. When theories are wrong it is important that they are replaced with new theories, but of equal importance is identifying which aspects of older theories are still correct. By identifying when older theories are still applicable, a common language can develop which can be used to accelerate and improve communication.
Supervisor: Jennifer Clapp, Environment and Resource Studies
Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are divisive commodities at the intersection of economic, food, fuel, and climate change debates. Fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are blended with gasoline in an effort to make a more “renewable” or “green” fuel. At the intersection of agrifood and fuel sectors, biofuels have deep linkages with other commodities and the global economy. Although produced globally and with multiple crops, biofuel discourse is dominated by transnational corporations and large producers such as Brazil. As such, there are no global standards or rules for how to produce and use biofuels. There is a growing scientific consensus that biofuels have a negative impact on the environment. Civil society groups also argue that biofuels are produced at the expense of food security in the Global South. Despite the diversity of opinions and interests in biofuels, as well as the plethora of domestic policy, there has yet to be any global policy governing biofuel production and trade. This thesis addresses the current biofuel landscape and the barriers to “hard” (legally binding) biofuel governance. I first examine literature on corporate control and political power. Concepts from the literature are then used to understand and interpret major policy documents and media sources. Of specific interest are the actions of transnational corporations and the three largest actors in the biofuel arena: Brazil, the United States, and the European Union. In understanding the barriers to international biofuel hard governance, this thesis is a first step to understanding how biofuel hard governance can be implemented effectively at the international level.
Supervisor: John McLevey, Knowledge Integration
Internet technology has become an important and pervasive part of our individual lives and our society. Rapid changes and innovations along with specialized knowledge and terminology can often be a barrier for general audiences to understand and stay up to date on those technologies, which is where the news media comes in, in order to help bridge that understanding. The news media plays an important role in shaping our understanding of these new Internet technologies, in particular around new and controversial tech. Due to its specialized nature, we trust and rely on the media to frame and explain those controversies, which end up having an effect on the technology itself. I believe further research in understanding how the media frames controversies in digital technologies in news and magazines is needed because of its significance in public understanding as well as further development of Internet technology. This exploratory project uses Tor (The Onion Router) as a case study in order to map out the different media frames around controversial Internet technologies and look at the relationships between those frames with authors/publications. Tor is best known as a browser and network that allows users to browse the Internet anonymously, which has become controversial due to polarizing positive and negative actions that have resulted from its use. Through the use of topic modeling and network analysis, I analyze the content of news and magazine articles which discuss Tor, and find the most prominent frames/themes that emerge. I also map those frames against the different organizations and authors in order to look at the structure of the discussion in the media. I then will discuss the broader implications for areas within the social construction of technology, media and technology, and Internet studies.
Managing the Polarity of Conservatism and Liberalism: Toward a practical and theological integration
Supervisor: Max Kennel, Theological Studies
Conservatism and liberalism are powerful theological and cultural constructs in Christianity recognized by many names. They shape what we believe, how we practice, and even who we think we are. Pinning down precisely what they are is no easy task, though. In this paper, I reject bounded definitions of these expressions of Christianity and I offer my own characterizations of each of liberalism and conservatism grounded in the work of previous scholars as well as my own observations. They are often perceived as opposing one another but I contend that their interaction is not that simple. I aim to describe their relationship in terms of theology, culture, and practice in their antagonism but also how they can complement one another. Finally, applying the powerful tool of Polarity Management, along with my own extension of it, I describe the polarity of liberalism and conservatism and explain how it can be managed.
Supervisor: Nicole Sanderson, Renison College
Studies have found that when students are taught how to collaborate effectively, it leads to a wide range of academic, personal, and social benefits. To put these findings into practice, I developed the Collaborative Classrooms learning module, a two-class workshop to teach students about collaboration best practices and design thinking, an iterative and group-oriented problem solving methodology. The research I conducted after presenting the module aims to learn more about students’ experiences with group work, whether or not they are learning how to work effectively in groups, and if they feel that learning how to collaborate is an important part of their education. The students that participated in the module filled out a qualitative questionnaire asking about their experiences and opinions about group work. Despite frequently working in groups, it was found that most students are not taught skills for improving their collaborative learning experiences. However, the majority of students felt that said skills would improve group work experiences for students and should be integrated into the high school curriculum. This research points to the importance of consulting with students directly about their education and how they feel it could be improved.
Food Allergic University Student Experiences and Perceptions of Food Allergy on Campus: A Case Study of the University of Waterloo
Supervisor: Susan Elliott, Geography and Environmental Management & School of Public Health and Health Systems
With the prevalence of food allergies within Canada estimated at approximately 7%, researchers have sought the perspectives of a variety of individuals to inform our understanding of food allergy risk and perception (Soller et al., 2012). However, university students’ experiences and perceptions on food allergies is an area of little research. This study explored the experiences and perceptions of food allergic university students. The two main objectives include (1) to understand how food allergic university students experience and perceive food allergy risk on campus and (2) to understand their management and coping strategies. Five focus groups were conducted with food allergic undergraduate students (n=20) of the University of Waterloo, Canada. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for subsequent thematic analysis. Results are organized around three major themes: perceptions and experiences, coping and management and changes and improvements. Many participants experienced difficulty managing their allergy when transitioning into a busy university setting. A “look out for yourself” attitude is required as they deal with staff and students who don’t recognize them for their allergy or understand how to properly manage risk. However participants still engage in risky behaviours by making allergies less of a priority, not carrying an EpiPen and eating cross-contaminated foods. In addition, they want to know their food options, not have accommodations made into a “big deal” and improve the knowledge and demeanor of food service staff. As the perceived prevalence of food allergy is increasing and new generations of food allergic individuals enter into university, these findings emphasize the need to recognize the varied impacts and experiences of food allergy among university students.
Supervisor: Jasmin Habib, Political Science
Despite the forces of globalization and transnationalism, individuals continue to identify on the basis of national and cultural terms that are based on fixed state and bounded territorial identities. This dismissal of complexity by dominant cultural groups is a form of social violence through its consequent denial of individuals’ identity intricacies, life experiences, and knowledge, and through continued explicit and implicit insistence on “objectivity” as a prerequisite for authority. I work to challenge and dismantle intertwined hierarchies of knowledge, power, and place, and seek to understand the impact of gendered and colonial gate-keeping on the formations of social identity and the construction of social knowledge. How might we better fulfill our responsibilities as intellectuals in speaking truth to power by not only broadening the scope of what we understand to be valid and valued social knowledge, but by also examining the work that is produced by those marginalized by the intersections of systems of difference? Are there ways of knowing that may offer intellectuals a means to acknowledge and take advantage of their embeddedness in the social world?
Supervisor: Sara Edge, Faculty of Environment
Across the world, cities are striving to become “smart” communities. A large component of this movement involves a shift to what is known as the Broadband economy. The Broadband economy focuses heavily on the opportunities, both social and economic, associated with technology and Internet connectivity. This focus revolves around creating integrated infrastructure systems and connecting citizens to technology in order to capitalize on the perceived opportunities for innovation that come with these changes. However, this movement has been broadly criticized for emphasizing the need for technology and the desire to attract new businesses, instead of focusing directly on the betterment of citizens. Many assert that the real power behind smart cities comes from their citizens. Thus, if the citizens are not the central focus in the shift towards becoming a smart city then a crucial piece of the puzzle is missing. Through a detailed literature review, this research synthesizes smart city critiques and combines them with existing research on citizen capacity building, with the purpose of creating a citizen-centered framework for the smart city movement to be adopted by cities.
The influence of a fifth year of study or a year off on Ontario high school students’ motivation, confidence, and self-efficacy
Supervisor: Amanda Nosko, Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Ontario has been changing its educational structure for over a decade now. Grade 13 or OAC (Ontario Academic Credit) was considered the fifth year of high school until it was officially phased out in 2003. What followed was a ‘victory lap’ phenomenon where students still stayed back for one or two terms. Brady and Allingham (2010) identified this ‘victory lap’ as a popular option for high school students. While studies have examined the academic benefits of pursuing a fifth year of high school (Brady & Allingham, 2007, 2010; Krashinsky, 2014), few studies have compared those students who took a fifth year with those students who opted for a break in between high school and university. Also, the differential psychological and developmental effects of pursuing these options have not been investigated. Since 2013 there has been a push to restrict high school students to four years. This study examines differences in motivation between students in Universities in order to determine the benefits that students in Ontario have had in the past decade. From now on, high school students wishing to take more than the 34-course limit (e.g., by retaking a course to upgrade a mark, taking extra courses, by taking night school or summer school courses) may face situations in which their educational pursuits are unfunded. The only way to take a course twice with no funding issues is to have failed it the first time (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013). The main goal is to shed light on how changes in Ontario high schools are affecting students’ University careers.