Senior Research Projects 2013

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, April 5, 2013. Details at: Knowledge Integration Symposium 2013

Conference-style papers: KI Symposium 2013 Proceedings (PDF)

Also, check out: 2012 research projects

Senior Research Projects 2013
Student Title/Area (with link to Abstract) Supervisor
Ann Marie Begin (In)Dependent living: Exploring the autonomy of people with dementia in long-term care facilities Tracy Penny-Light, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family
Caroline Dunton Youth in an adult world: What is the role and importance of youth-positive and youth-led spaces in the context of an evolving downtown Hamilton? Fred Bird, Political Science
Paul Goodwin Designing Meta Patterns: An Integration Primer Glenn Stillar, Digital Arts Communication
Michael Goudreault Engaging archaeology: An examination of how archaeological exhibits approach visitor engagement Rob Macdonald, Anthropology
Sarah Klassen Växa: Educational Experience for Acceptance Dennis Gingrich, Waterloo Catholic District School Board
Jessica Lounsbury More than just a pretty face: a closer look at female protagonists and their narratives Neil Randall, English Language & Literature
Cayley MacArthur An integrative approach to the user experience design of technologically-mediated interactions in a convergent media climate Neil Randall, English Language & Literature
Vanessa Minke-Martin Thermal habitat use by 1SW Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) of North American origin and its effect on growth during the second summer at sea: application of otolith oxygen stable isotope analyses Michael Power, Biology
Charlie Moscoe Interdisciplinary Videogame Character Model Neil Randall, English Language & Literature
Lawrence Oprea Textbook Piracy: A Behavioural Economics Analysis Jonathan Fugelsang, Psychology
Thomas Price Breaking Down Knowledge Transfer Barriers John O'Keefe, Canadian Dental Association
Kenzie Reid Trying: Poems about Disability and Effort Jay Dolmage, English Language & Literature
Kevin Rodrigues Examining the Transition of High School Students with Academic and Other Personal Challenges to University from the Pathways to Education program in Kitchener Rae Crossman, Waterloo Unlimited and Cheryl Rose, Social Innovation Generation
Samuel Schirm Grammaticality Judgments of Native and Non-Native Speakers of German Mathias Schulze, Germanic and Slavic Studies
Jenna Vikse Stakeholders in Experiential Education: Student Perspectives Nancy Fenton, School of Public Health and Health
Michael Yun Applications of Knowledge Integration in Rural Tourism Development Steve Smith, Recreation and Leisure Studies

(In)Dependent living: Exploring the autonomy of people with dementia in long-term care facilities

Ann Marie Begin

Supervisor: Tracy Penny-Light, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies


Sherwin (1998) developed a broad framework for a feminist, relational account of autonomy for the context of medicine that specifically paid attention to how oppression can interfere with patient autonomy. In this paper, I build on Sherwin’s concept of autonomy by grounding it in selfhood, and create an integrated framework for person-centered care that takes into account the selfhood, bodily autonomy, agency, and autonomy of the patient. By consulting other concepts of autonomy, I create a boundary condition for who is capable of exercising autonomy and who is not. I then apply this framework to the context of people with dementia living in long-term care facilities in Ontario, in order to explore how using this framework can help highlight problems with care that infringe on the autonomy of residents. I also explore how this framework can help keep residents autonomous longer, and how it can guide care that respects the agency of residents who are no longer capable of exercising autonomy.

Youth in an adult world: What is the role and importance of youth-positive and youth-led spaces in the context of an evolving downtown Hamilton?

Caroline Dunton

Supervisor: Fred Bird, Political Science


The city of Hamilton, Ontario is an old industrial city with a downtown that, for a long time, had lost its life and developed an unpleasant reputation. In recent years, efforts have been made to revitalize the downtown core and bring a string of political, economic and social changes. At the same time, the downtown core is home to many diverse groups of immigrants and they are often excluded and disconnected from broader community conversations and these changes. Another group that is often excluded is youth. The New Generation Youth Centre (NGen) that is located downtown is home to very diverse groups of youth, both newcomer and non-newcomer, and describes itself as youth-led, youth-engaged and youth-positive. This project explores what these terms mean and the importance of what NGen does in empowering young people, including those who are new to Canada, and helping them access and be a part of discussions about the changes that affect them.  NGen is a very unique space that allows for youth to come together, build community and support one another as well as various initiatives. It is also very much contextualized in the history of downtown and downtown’s changing identity. Youth inhabit an adult world and a city that is quickly changing around them. It is important to explore how their communities are crucial to including their voices in broader municipal debate and to truly valuing their knowledge, agency, and lived experience.

Designing Meta Patterns: An Integration Primer

Paul Goodwin

Supervisor: Glenn Stillar, Digital Arts Communication


This thesis provides students and non-specialists with a primer on integration – i.e., a concise, introductory work that outlines a theory of integration as it draws upon, and provides a framework for understanding, the principles and practices of design.  Based on concepts derived from systemic functionalism, the primer’s theory of integration explains how design patterns – typical integrations of design systems, structures, and functions – both presuppose and feed into higher-level patterns that I call “metapatterns.” To help people understand and use metapatterns, I designed the primer to be systematic (every term bears a clear and definable relationship to all other terms), comprehensive (the terms cover the widest possible range of design practices), and applicable (the terms elucidate and guide design principles and practices).  Specifically, this primer proceeds from my theoretical reflections on a specific design practice: the creation of a mobile application, Master[ed], an iPhone app that helps people annotate audio recordings with short text and image tags to facilitate an efficient review process.  Accompanying the design project and integration primer is a companion work: a casebook that explains how the processes, decisions, and reflections that arose during the design project shaped, and were shaped by, the primer and its theory of integration. Finally, to make the primer and casebook accessible, relevant, and easy to use, I integrated both works into a single ebook. As my thesis hopes to demonstrate, this format has numerous advantages: its rich media is useful for illustrating complex ideas; its interactivity, for creating multiple levels of connectivity; and its network capabilities, for fostering online communities that can continue add to, and refine, key integration concepts over time.

Engaging archaeology: An examination of how archaeological exhibits approach visitor engagement

Michael Goudreault

Supervisor: Rob Macdonald, Anthropology


Archaeology and museums both originate in the mid 18th century and have been influential in shaping the development and progress of one another since that time.  In the context of museums, archaeology aims to establish and communicate a complete cultural narrative for a community or culture.  To study how well this has been achieved, this project identifies four major approaches to exhibiting archaeology, which are identified as: the traditional approach, the anthropological approach, the heritage site, and the experimental approach.  Each of these approaches is examined in depth through archaeological and museum theory to determine if some styles of exhibition are more effective in engaging visitors and communicating a comprehensive cultural narrative.  It was found that the more modern, novel approaches to displaying archaeology exhibits are better able to reflect our current perspectives on archaeology and museum theory than the more familiar, traditional approaches.  From this we expect that more innovative approaches to display will be more engaging to visitors and offer a more accessible cultural narrative.

Växa: Educational Experience for Acceptance

Sarah Klassen

Supervisor: Dennis Gingrich, Waterloo Catholic District School Board


Cultural diversity in Canada is steadily increasing. Along with it, the need for educational programs that promote multicultural acceptance and integration is also rising. Växa, an interactive educational experience for youth, is designed with that purpose in mind. The goal of Växa is to work against racism and racial violence by promoting acceptance and integration of different cultures. For the participants, these types of programs can promote a better understanding of other cultures and of themselves, both as individuals and as members of their own culture. While the main goal of Växa is acceptance and integration of other cultures, there are four learning objectives that bring participants closer to this target. After analysing three case studies, the educational approach for this program was determined. The case studies include the Corrymeela Community programs, Oasis of Peace Schools, and the Children’s International Summer Village, all programs with goals similar to that of Växa. The educational program will take the form of a main interactive experience, supported by activities run by schoolteachers or program leaders, both before and after the program. If successful, this program will give youth an experience that will drive them towards acceptance and integration of multiculturalism, promoting positive relationships between cultural groups in Canada.

More than just a pretty face: a closer look at female protagonists and their narratives

Jessica Lounsbury

Supervisor: Neil Randall, English Language & Literature


In the discussion of the importance of the Strong Female character in young adult literature, much emphasis has been placed on the characters themselves while other elements of the source narratives escape this level of scrutiny. The widely-accepted definition of Strong Female Character discounts several aspects of strength of character, creating a new set of standards against which young female readers end up measuring themselves, and which is not entirely without flaws. In light of this definition it is often the masculine qualities of characters that receive a positive focus, unintentionally implying that to be male is to be strong, while femininity belies weakness. The protagonist's most important friendships are often with secondary, male characters, and some narratives prioritize these relationships with men over the protagonists’ relationship with other women. In addition, the narrative often concludes with the protagonist in a romantic relationship, frequently with the character's first love interest; this can be seen as implying that women cannot be completely happy without a man. While there have been great advances in Yong Adult Literature when it comes to the representation of women, the textual elements discussed undermine the effect of an otherwise progressive narrative.

An integrative approach to the user experience design of technologically-mediated interactions in a convergent media climate

Cayley MacArthur

Supervisor: Neil Randall, English Language & Literature


Once limited to the domain of computer scientists, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) can now be approached from a variety of disciplines. Still, the resources used in theory and practice fail to substantiate suggestions with human-centered reasoning. The interaction of the semiotic systems within an interface cohere into a meaningful whole, but this meaning can only be extracted from its elements when provided with appropriate means of analysis. Within this paper I will pursue an integrative approach to the study of the areas that contribute to a healthy online community. I will elaborate the previous study of interfaces as textual-visual cultural mediators by acknowledging the modern convergence of audiovisual media and shifting the focus to web-based discussion of music. The music community brings with it a sense of engagement by its members whose involvement is not solely driven by their interest but whose participative actions are negotiated by affordances of the interface as well. These findings will be structured as they pertain to established practices in the user experience design process in order to provide practical suggestions for implementation. An approach that takes into account socio-cultural, rhetorical and semiotic explanations of media, user and technological interactions will highlight the need for interdisciplinary collaboration in the future for truly user-centered design of systems as complex as those found online.

Thermal habitat use by 1SW Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) of North American origin and its effect on growth during the second summer at sea: application of otolith oxygen stable isotope analyses

Vanessa Minke-Martin

Supervisor: Michael Power, Biology


Otolith-derived estimates of thermal habitat use by male and female 1SW Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) of North American origin were generated for fish caught by the collaborative Salmon-at-Sea (SALSEA) program off West Greenland in 2009 and 2010. Otolith material corresponding to the second summer at sea was subsampled, via micro-milling, from each of 40 fish and analysed by mass spectrometry to produce stable oxygen isotope (δ18O) values. No significant relationship exists between carbon stable isotope (δ13C) and δ18O values in otolith material, which indicates that oxygen fractionation in Atlantic salmon otoliths is not metabolically influenced. Temperature estimates were calculated for each fish from otolith and seawater δ18O values using a salmonid-based fractionation equation. Temperature estimates did not show significant difference based on sex, time period, or capture year. Comparison of otolith-derived temperature estimates with sea surface temperature (SST) data from oceanographic Station 27 off Cape Spear, NL, an indicator of Northwest Atlantic temperature trends, showed agreement for 2009 and 2010. Otolith growth zone width corresponding to the second summer at sea was found to correlate with fish fork-length, but otolith-derived temperature was not a good predictor for either growth measure. The absence of an inverse relationship between growth zone width and gonad weight, indicates that differential energy allocation to growth and reproduction is not significant during the period of study.

Interdisciplinary Videogame Character Model

Charlie Moscoe

Supervisor: Neil Randall, English Language & Literature


Videogame characters are complex entities, with components that span multiple traditional disciplines.  In order to successfully design or analyze videogame characters, these elements must be considered together, as parts of a complex system. Using an integrative multi-disciplinary approach, this thesis proposes a method for analyzing the various aspects of video game character using an opposing forces model.  This model allows for an analysis of the individual components of a videogame character and an examination of the connections between these components. The model focuses on four main components. The traditional narratological component of the character entity involves establishing the defining characteristics of a character.  The psychological component involves the balance between immersion, engagement and presence; three separate psychological effects that a game can have on a player. The third component encompasses the semiotic processes used to represent the character in a videogame, and the fourth component comprises the technological and mechanical implementation of the character.   A competing forces model of system interaction can be used to represent the relationships between these four components.  This model treats the four aspects of videogame character as distinct but interrelated components, and allows for an examination of how the components interact with one another.  By applying this model to relevant case studies, it becomes clear that the interplay between the components of a videogame character can have both positive and negative effects on the gameplay experience for the player.

Textbook Piracy: A Behavioural Economics Analysis

Lawrence Oprea

Supervisor: Jonathan Fugelsang, Psychology


Those who pirate textbooks are criminals in the eyes of the law; they are also generally college students, test higher on risk-taking than the norm, have little disposable income and in most cases hold anti-corporatist left-wing ideologies. Nearly two decades of technological and legal solutions have failed to curb digital piracy. Now textbook publishers have the opportunity to learn from the music and film industries about what are the right and wrong measures to control copyright infringement. Education campaigns are mocked and seen as propaganda from those in power. Lawsuits bring bad publicity to both publishers and unfairly to the writers and creators. Lobbying of the American government for draconian anti-piracy laws led to over 115000 websites blacking out in protest; including Google, Wikipedia, and Twitter. On the other hand, preemptively placing opt-out textbook funds in student’s mandatory term payments may dramatically increase purchasing. Cultivating a social taboo, as was done for smoking, can have a more powerful effect than any tax or law. Additionally, in the case of text book piracy, people mentally discount a low chance of being caught to zero leading to de facto permissiveness. Such findings come from behavioural economics, the application of psychology to economic analysis. An extensive literature review was conducted to assess how the discoveries of behavioural economics can be used in diminishing the prevalence of piracy. I will present a handful of suggestions based on this review and analysis. Based on this analysis, it appears that a benevolent paternalism, careful social nudging, and a relaxation of 20th century views on copyright may be the best way to go about initiating change. While not excusing student culpability, it seems clear that policy makers and copyrights holders need to react both to the changes wrought by the information age and the specific motivations of pirates.

Breaking Down Knowledge Transfer Barriers

Thomas Price

Supervisor: John O'Keefe, Canadian Dental Association


The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association’s desire to “Convene a Cheerful and Comfortable Community around Credible Clinical Content” provides a goal to aspire to and a framework to examine collaboration between researchers and practitioners. The survey conducted as part of the supporting research was created to gain insight what level of knowledge practitioners have, the knowledge resources they currently use, which resources they trust, and how they would prefer to have information presented to them. This project allows for a more thorough investigation of the JCDA’s role as a boundary organization between researchers and practitioners, provides information on how to appropriately target practitioners, and highlights the current knowledge needs of practitioners.

Trying: Poems about Disability and Effort

Kenzie Reid

Supervisor: Jay Dolmage, English Language & Literature


This creative writing project focuses on concepts of effort, ease, and suffering, drawing on my experiences as a mentally ill and developmentally disabled person. Informed by readings in critical disability studies and queer theory, I examine the toxic effects that demands for normalcy, productivity, and order have on the disabled body and mind. I use a collection of poems, along with an extended artist's statement, to examine effort and suffering from multiple angles, including my own experiences of navigating the ableist education and medical systems. This work also uses social performance theory to investigate the colossal daily effort of getting one's needs met while appearing as normal as possible, and how this effort has negative consequences on physical and mental health. The poems use a wide variety of forms, from sonnets and blank verse to "disorderly writing" that narrates a mental crisis state, as well as a conversational tone throughout, holding the reader accountable. This examination of effort and suffering is intended to a) highlight and broadcast experiences that are usually stigmatized and ignored, b) destabilize traditional notions of productivity, c) demand that educational and medical systems treat disabled people as the foremost authorities on disability.

Examining the Transition of High School Students with Academic and Other Personal Challenges to University from the Pathways to Education program in Kitchener

Kevin Rodrigues

Supervisor: Rae Crossman, Waterloo Unlimited and Cheryl Rose, Social Innovation Generation


The Pathways to Education Program serves two low-income neighbourhoods in the Kitchener, Ontario community that have the highest high school dropout rates in the area.  The Pathways program offers tutorial support and mentorship to enhance high school student success measured by the central goal of high school graduation. While the Pathways program focuses on the obstacles its students experience throughout high school, an important area for focused inquiry is the nature of the academic and personal struggles that students face after they graduate.  Pathways students encounter a range of challenges in trying to make a successful transition to post-secondary education.  This report serves as a pilot study to examine the academic and other personal challenges that Pathways students face when they graduate from high school and make the transition to university.  Through interviews with students who have been through the Pathways program and are now enrolled at the University of Waterloo, I will explore themes such as family situation and attitudes, student engagement with the campus community, and mentorship opportunities.  A reflective methodology will be integral to my pilot study as a means of providing detailed next questions for studying the transition to university education of Pathways students.

Grammaticality Judgments of Native and Non-Native Speakers of German

Samuel Schirm

Supervisor: Mathias Schulze, Germanic and Slavic Studies


In applied linguistics, grammaticality refers to how well the grammar rules of a given language are applied in a given sentence or utterance. It is possible for a sentence to contain a grammatical error but still be acceptable to a native speaker. Grammaticality judgment tasks measure speakers’ behaviour around a given language’s grammatical features and structures; grammaticality judgments do not measure a speaker’s knowledge of the language’s grammar. While studies have compared groups of L1s and their grammaticality judgments of different types of errors, such as Kail, Kihlstedt, & Bonnet (2012)’s study on Swedish speakers of differing ages and their responses to a variety of grammatical errors, and other studies have compared the grammaticality judgments of groups of L2s, such as Winitz (1996)’s study on the grammaticality judgments of students taking introductory Spanish courses, the aim of the current project is to study the differences between the scalar grammaticality judgments of L1s and L2s, and the strategies used by each group when identifying and describing grammatical error in complete sentences. Using the results from this study, I will discuss foreign language teaching syllabi and the role of explicit and implicit grammar knowledge in foreign language instruction and use.

Stakeholders in Experiential Education: Student Perspectives

Jenna Vikse

Supervisor: Nancy Fenton, School of Public Health and Health Systems


Experiential education as an umbrella for many pedagogical approaches has gained significant footing and momentum since John Dewey wrote Experience and Education in 1938. In the intervening years, a large body of literature and an extensive field of practice have evolved. These practices take a variety of forms, from service-learning programs to co-operative education. The application of these methods ranges from elementary school field trips to problem-based learning in medical school. While largely embraced as a new way of engaging students, there is some serious opposition to these teaching approaches insofar as they constitute constructivist learning. Nonetheless, experiential education has grown in popularity and become an attraction and a focus at post-secondary institutions. In this paper, I consider the experiences of a small group of undergraduate students in terms of their actual experience in undergraduate university classes. Ironically, little of the literature or commonplace practice explicitly seeks out student voice about their perception of the effectiveness and value of their education. This paper presents extremely rudimentary findings. The intention here is not to present conclusive results, but to draw attention to students as primary stakeholders in experiential education.

Applications of Knowledge Integration in Rural Tourism Development

Michael Yun

Supervisor: Steve Smith, Recreation and Leisure Studies


Tourism is a complex industry with diverse economic, social, environmental, cultural, and spiritual interests. The importance of involving multiple stakeholders in the rural tourism development process presents an opportunity to consider how lessons from interdisciplinary programs, such as Knowledge Integration, might be applied to maximize the benefits of tourism while reducing negative impacts. This study identifies needs in rural tourism development based on existing research and connects these needs with concepts from Knowledge Integration gleaned from a review of course materials. Through interviews with contacts in the southwestern Ontario rural communities of Kincardine and St. Jacobs, this study looks at how key points from the Knowledge Integration curriculum are being, and could be, used when planning rural tourism. Interviews revealed major differences between the public and private planning of tourism. Despite these differences, there were several instances where both communities were already using Knowledge Integration principles as well as opportunities to improve tourism development by making use of ideas from Knowledge Integration. In particular, lessons on creative thinking and group diversity could be especially useful. While the study of two communities in a single geographic region is insufficient to make broad claims about how rural tourism development should be done, the synthesis of Knowledge Integration and tourism planning in practice is a valuable exercise, which I hope will provide academics and tourism practitioners with ideas for future research and strategies for rural tourism development.