The 2019 External Reviewers’ Report on the Waterloo Student Experience articulated strengths and recommended areas for improvement. Repeated external student perception survey data align with the 2019 Review’s identified areas for improvement: we have relational work to do with our students to improve their experiences of interactions and support. The 2019 recommendations were made before high profile, external events underscored and exacerbated social inequalities affecting our students. The student ‘playing field’ is not level. Going forward, student experiences need to be informed by equity, compassion, and impact. Student experiences need to be viewed through an intersectional lens that purposefully decentres Waterloo’s historically Eurocentric roots.
Waterloo needs a student experience framework that articulates objectives and guides practices and metrics. A framework can help us confirm our actions, identify gaps, and plan changes. Waterloo Student Experience & Engagement (WatSEE) considers ‘learning’ to be a transformative activity that integrates academic learning and student development; thus, learning is not restricted to academic programming and student development is not separate from academic programming. We are all in this together.
WatSEE acknowledges the holistic, interconnectedness of student learning, which occurs through all interactions with members of the university. Our students are listening and watching. Holistic, interconnected student learning means that while institutional contributors may prioritize on specific elements of WatSEE, they remain mindful of and willing to incorporate other elements, where feasible. Operational excellence must reach beyond intent because impact is what matters.
WatSEE provides a lens for guiding student experience activity and assessment at the University of Waterloo. We want our students to do more than survive; we want them to thrive.
The WatSEE Framework report provides a brief justification and description of Waterloo Student Experience & Engagement.
Questions and comments about WatSEE should be directed to Marlee M. Spafford (she/her), Special Advisor to the Provost on Student Experience, at firstname.lastname@example.org.