UW Course Instructor Participant - Transdisciplinary Systemic Innovation Lab @ WISIR

Transdisiplinary Systemic Innovation Lab

This webpage and webform is designed to inform instructors of the nature of the research study attached to the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation’s 2022 Fall Term Transdisciplinary Systemic Innovation Lab. To go back to the main page, click here.

University of Waterloo instructors teaching a course during the Fall Term in 2022 are eligible to participate in this study.

To join the study, please review the below information before completing the registration form at the bottom of this page.


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Information session (held on June 23 2022)

UW instructors were invited to discover more about our research questions, delivery model, learning platform, ask questions, and provide feedback with Principal Investigator Sean Geobey and WISIR’s Innovation Lab Manager Meg Ronson. The slides are available to review here as well as a full recording of the event here

Study Overview

Title of the study: Transdisciplinary Systemic Innovation Lab
Principal Investigator: Sean Geobey, University of Waterloo, Assistant Professor at the School of Environment Enterprise and Development and Co-Director at the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience | sean.geobey@uwaterloo.ca | 519-888-4567, ext. 48680
Study Coordinator: Prisha Shukla | p7shukla@uwaterloo.ca 

To help you make an informed decision regarding your participation, this webpage will explain what the study is about, the possible risks and benefits, and your rights as a research participant. If you do not understand something on this page, please consult the Principal Investigator prior to consenting to the study. You will be provided with a digital copy of the information and consent form if you choose to participate in the study.

What is the study about?

You are invited to participate in a research study about a special participatory design process called a “social innovation lab” that was first designed and outlined by the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience. When a social innovation lab is run effectively, it creates a transdisciplinary community of people who each hold a piece of knowledge about the particular complex and systemic problem that the Lab process is focused on examining. We want to understand how effective this environment is as a supplemental co-curricular learning activity at supporting high impact learning practices when it is integrated into traditional academic coursework. We also want to know how well this process contributes to greater collaboration across disciplines between students and instructors. This research will contribute to a greater understanding of the social innovation lab’s role in problem-based learning approaches.

Your responsibilities as a participant

What does participation involve?

Participating instructors will be opting into joining the study, in which they work with the project team to design a modified rubric to their course’s regular final evaluation assignment. Participating instructors will be asked to provide their students with the option of completing their original assignment or participating in the Lab’s research study. Students participating in the Lab and study will be invited to attend four design sessions and complete two surveys and participate in a 45-minute interview as participants in a research study. Participating students will then be asked to submit to their course instructor a report about their application of course content to the Lab’s context which follows the guidelines that the instructors and the research team will co-create to ensure they meet the learning objectives within the course outline.

Participating instructors are invited to participate in the Lab’s design sessions – no data will be collected from the design session participants. Meanwhile, participating students will be invited to attend all of the dessign sessions in the Lab’s 4 session series. Each session will  last 2-3 hours. Over the course of the Lab and its associated study, data will be collected from participating students and instructors through one one-on-one semi-structured interview – of a duration of no more than 45 minutes -- and two surveys – one before the Lab begins and one after the Lab has concluded and the students’ reports have been submitted. Students who choose to leave the research study are still able to participate in the Lab and attend all sessions. Students who choose not to attend all the sessions may find they are not well-equipped to submit the final report. Likewise, instructors may choose not to participate in the data collection activities and/or remove themselves from the study. An instructor who exits the study should, however, continue to allow their students to participate in the sessions and submit the alternative assignment to avoid disrupting their students’ pedagogical experience.

It will be up to the course instructor to permit students to change their minds and revert back to submitting the original course assignment.

Design session schedule

The four design session dates and times will be determined once registration is completed. We anticipate they will be held once a week for four weeks in October and each run for a duration of 3 hours. There is also a fifth session focused on reflection that will be held in early November. 

What kinds of activities will occur in the design sessions?

The four design sessions will be about framing the system the Lab is exploring, understanding that system, envisioning desired futures for that system, and then exploring different possible directions to intervene in the system.

How does the survey work and what kinds of questions will be asked in the surveys?

The survey is administered by Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI), an external research group led by Dr. Dan Pratt at University of British Columbia. The survey generates a profile for you in 5 different categories and you will be asked to submit your scores in each category into a University of Waterloo website webform once you have received your scores. The survey takes roughly 20 minutes to complete each time. A reminder that participating in the survey is entirely voluntary and participants can decline to participate in the survey at any time.

In the TPI tool you will be asked to submit your email so that you can be emailed your profile. We have contacted the TPI team and they indicated that all data is de-identified and that any contact information entered is only used to provide you with your profile. The TPI researchers may use the anonymized data to conduct research.

What kinds of questions will be asked in the interview and how long will it take?

The interviewer will ask questions about your intentions in joining the Lab and study as a participant and your habits, experiences, and goals when it comes to teaching, research, and trans-disciplinary collaboration. The interview will last no longer than 45 minutes. Interviews will be conducted over Zoom or Microsoft Teams – at the discretion of the interviewee.

Who may participate in the study?

The study will involve up to 8 instructor participants and 30 student participants. In order to participate in the study as an instructor, you must be instructing a course at the University of Waterloo during the Fall term 2022. If you are not instructing a course at that time but would like to participate in the project as a stakeholding community member, please click here to access the Community participant registration page[insert link]. Note: Community participants are not study participants but are participating in design sessions of their choosing.

Technology use and privacy

The interview will be conducted over an online platform, Zoom Zoom has implemented technical, administrative, and physical safeguards to protect the information provided via the Services from loss, misuse, and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. However, no Internet transmission is ever fully secure or error free.

You will be asked to submit the results from the survey you take administered by Teaching Perspectives Inventory using a University of Waterloo website webform. The University of Waterloo website platform has implemented technical, administrative, and physical safeguards to protect the information provided via the Services from loss, misuse, and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. However, no Internet transmission is ever fully secure or error free. The group work involved in the study does limit our ability to keep participants’ identity confidential. We will ask participants to keep in confidence information that identifies or could potentially identify another participant and/or his/her comments. However, we cannot guarantee that participants will honour this ask and keep in confidence information that identifies or could potentially identify you and/or your comments if you participate in design sessions.

Your rights as a participant

Is participation in the study voluntary?

Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You may decide to leave the study prior to the beginning of term (September 7) by contacting the Project Coordinator to inform them of your withdrawal. After the beginning of Fall term, you will be unable to withdraw from participating in the Lab (although you may decline to be part of the study and related data collection activities at any time), as withdrawal may prove disorienting for the students registered for your course.

During interviews and surveys, you may decline to answer any question(s) you prefer not to answer (e.g., by leaving them blank, or by requesting to skip the question. You may also contact the Project Coordinator at any time to request that you not be required to participate in the survey or interview portions of the study at any time.You can also request your data be removed from the study up until January 9 2023.  In regards to your individual data collected during interviews and surveys, that data can be removed from the study up until [insert deadline for data removal].

Will I receive anything for participating in the study?

In appreciation of your time, you will receive an appreciation letter from the Principal Investigator thanking you for participating in the study.

What are the possible benefits of the study?

We hypothesize that in participating in this study, instructors may improve their capacity to the following:

  • cultivating community-based problem-based learning activities into courses 
  • increasing connections to off-campus community stakeholders 
  • increasing number of pedagogical and research relationships with instructors from outside their home departments.

We also expect that instructors whose students participate in the study may improve their learning outcomes as a result of their participation. The social innovation lab environment, if successfully implemented as a HIP, will offer your students common intellectual experiences and community-based learning which generates deep learning identified in HIP literature. Specifically, participating students

  • invest significant and meaningful time and effort on authentic, complex tasks over an extended period of time
  • interact meaningfully amongst themselves and other faculty and practitioners about substantive matters
  • interact with diverse individuals with life experiences different from their own
  • receive frequent, real-time feedback on their work and thinking
  • receive frequent, periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
  • discover relevance of learning through real-world applications, or add a real-world/authentic experience
  • publicly demonstrate their competence

More broadly, the lab is designed to build social innovation skills and networks by teaching systems theory, design thinking, and social innovation strategy. The lab uses experiential learning tied to social innovation lab frameworks to develop skills and understanding in these fields as well as pathways to approach different disciplines through a more systemic lens. Students gain a direct connection to community leaders that are embedded in the problem domain and are subsequently grounding their theoretical learning in systems theory when producing system maps. Moreover, system redesigns and the launching of and learning from prototypes are problem-based learning opportunities for participants that allow them to use these concepts to analyze the impact of their interventions.

Finally, students achieve career development benefits like deeper embeddedness in networks relevant to their field of study, and also receive early-stage consulting and collaborative experience through the trans-disciplinary problem-based approach.

What are the risks associated with the study?

There are no known or anticipated risks associated with participation in this study.

Will my identity be known?

Though your identity as a research participant cannot remain fully confidential to other participants, only the research team will have access to the raw study data that links you to your data. Any public reporting on the data will not link you or identify you to your data. Your information will be securely stored – physical session materials will be locked in the Principal Investigator’s research office, while digital data will be stored in a secure file sharing service accessible only to the research team. Research data will be retained for minimum of 7 years at which time it will be destroyed/deleted.

Questions, comments, or concerns

Who is sponsoring/funding this study?

This study is funded by a Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement (LITE) Grant (administered by the Centre for Teaching Excellence and the Associate Vice-President, Academic’s Office).

Has the study received ethics clearance?

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Board (REB 44420). If you have questions for the Board contact the Office of Research Ethics, at 1-519-888-4567 ext. 36005 or reb@uwaterloo.ca.

Who should I contact if I have questions regarding my participation in the study?

If you have any questions regarding this study, or would like additional information to assist you in reaching a decision about participation, please contact Project Coordinator Prisha Shukla by email at p7shukla@uwaterloo.ca.


Consent and registration form

By providing your consent, you are not waiving your legal rights or releasing the investigator(s) or involved institution(s) from their legal and professional responsibilities.

Title of the study: Transdisciplinary Systemic Innovation Lab

Information and privacy: questions regarding the collection of information on this form can be directed to the form administrator.

I have read the information presented on this page about a study conducted by Sean Geobey, University of Waterloo, Assistant Professor at the School of Environment Enterprise and Development and Co-Director at the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience | sean.geobey@uwaterloo.ca | 519-888-4567, ext. 48680. I have had the opportunity to ask questions related to the study and have received satisfactory answers to my questions and any additional details. I was informed that participation in the study is voluntary and that I can withdraw this consent by informing the researcher. This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University Waterloo Research Ethics Board (REB 44420. If you have questions for the Board, contact the Office of Research Ethics, at 1-519-888-4567 ext. 36005 or reb@uwaterloo.ca. For all other questions contact the Project Coordinator, Prisha Shukla, at p7shukla@uwaterloo.ca.
I have read and understood the above.
I agree of my own free will to participate in the study.
Are you interested in attending any of the design sessions? Select all that apply. * (required)
The design sessions have not yet been scheduled but are expected to occur once a week for four weeks in October and each run for a duration of 3 hours. Instructors are encourage to come to any sessions they would like as a professional, academic, and teaching/learning experience, but they should not be attending the sessions to monitor or supervise their students or try to observe or evaluate their participation in the Lab. Evaluations of students should be reserved for what they produce in their final submission.