1:15 – 2:30 – Session 8

Creating Learning Strategies to Support the Success of International Students

Presenters: Brent Oliver, Christina Tortorelli, Gina Adams, and Marva Ferguson

Location: Palliser Room (main floor by convention lobby)

Increasing numbers of international students are choosing an education at Mount Royal University (MRU). The University’s Academic Plan and Strategic Research and Scholarship Plan identify internationalization as an institutional priority and acknowledges that extensive supports are required to ensure the success of international learners. In times of fiscal austerity, the recruitment of international students has become an increasing source of revenue for Alberta post-secondaries. Scholarship in this area indicates that the acculturation process for international students presents challenges including the need for learners to reconcile complex emotional, social, and academic pressures (Fischbacher-Smith, M.2015, p7). In this context, thoughtful and intentional planning to support the success of students is a significant responsibility for faculty and administration.

In September of 2019, we welcomed an unprecedented number of international students to the social work program. With little knowledge or experience in this area, our team set out to explore the best ways to engage and support this cohort of learners. Identifying a need for increased pedagogical approaches as our classroom, practicum, and program grew in their diversity, we initiated a SOTL study to explore the learning experiences of these students. In the process we moved from problematizing the issues related to internationalization to exploring ways to creatively engage international students in our program and recognize the contributions they make to our learning community.

In this panel presentation, our team will use our collective experience at MRU as a launching point for a dialogue focused on creating strategies to support international students studying at MRU. We will discuss our collective learning in designing and implementing a SOTL project with a specific focus on creating positive beginnings with international students, enhancing the learning experience, meeting educational outcomes, and closing well.

Learning Communities in General Education

Presenters: Bill Bunn, Celeste MacConnachie, Charles Hepler, Guy Obrecht, and Glen Ryland

Location: Walker Room (second floor)

The Department of General Education has offered a small number pairs of courses formatted in what is called a Learning Community. These courses are successful in a variety of ways. They emphasize to students that individual topics can be viewed through different lenses brought forth by disparate disciplines. They are invigorating for teachers in that teachers get to interact with one another in new ways. These successes bring a number of questions beginning with: how well can we scale up these kinds of offerings? 

Join a group of people who have taught in GNED learning communities to find out about our experiences and discuss how we can extend them in the future.

Archives in Action: Using Archival Collections in the Classroom

Presenters: Peter Houston and Marty Clark

Location: Dawson/Stewart Room (main floor by convention lobby)

To fulfill its mandate to support teaching and research at MRU, the Archives and Special Collections has developed a robust instruction program through which faculty members can bring their classes to learn about archives and primary sources. Over the past two years, the program has grown significantly and now sees classes in a variety of disciplines attending archives sessions to develop archival research skills by working with unique collections. This session explores how archivist Peter Houston and instructor Marty Clark acquired and used a major new collection, the Blaine Canadian Sports History Collection, to build an interactive archives session and assignment for students in HPED 1010: Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Sport and Culture, a first year course in the Department of Health and Physical Education.

The presenters will explain the design of the archives session and present some preliminary thoughts on how getting students in the archives to “do” historical research teaches them valuable lessons about the historical method while meeting course objectives. There will be an interactive component to this session, as participants will briefly try the class assignment in which students are asked to find and analyze racialized representations of Indigenous peoples in Calgary Stampede programs from the 1950s. Participants will also learn about future opportunities to have students experience archival research through hands-on work in the Archives and Special Collections.

Building Connections and Strengthening Your Association

Presenters: Brenda Lang, Karen Manarin, Lee Easton, Melanie Peacock, Michele Holmgren, Qasim Syed, Rafik Kurji, and Yuhuan Wang

Location: Champion Room (second floor)

Join your colleagues as they reflect on their experiences serving on MRFA committees. Learn how their involvement in the MRFA has impacted their experiences as Association members, how it has connected them to the broader campus community, and how their contributions have built the Association we have today. And, learn about the various opportunities you have to become more involved in the Association.