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Student Belonging [clear filter]
Wednesday, December 9

1:00pm EST

Building a Sense of Belonging: The Impact of a University-wide Exam Prep Initiative
Students who feel a sense of belonging in their educational environment have greater academic engagement and success (Freeman et al., 2007). Exam Jam is a campus-wide initiative at the University of Toronto Mississauga that aims to foster these positive educational outcomes by reducing student stress and promoting productive study habits.  Exam Jam brings together the campus community in wellness activities (e.g., therapy dogs, massages, healthy food, crafts) and academic support programming (e.g., instructor-led course specific exam review sessions, study workshops, and peer-facilitated groups). This study examined the academic success of an Exam Jam review session for an introductory course in Anthropology (N = 726).  Term and exam grades of Exam Jam participants (N = 239) were compared to the rest of the students in the course (N = 474). Independent t-tests (p< 0.05) revealed that Exam Jam students had significantly higher grades in all categories.  Exam Jam participants with term grades of >80% (N = 116) performed significantly higher on the final exam than other students in this cohort (N = 185).  Self-selection resulted in the highest performing students overwhelmingly attending Exam Jam.  Students who were low performers were less likely to attend. This supports the findings of Lukes & McConnell (2014) who found that students with interior motivation and self-regulatory study habits utilize academic support systems. Exam Jam participants positively ranked the wellness activities in post-session surveys.  Students felt that Exam Jam activities and the participation of instructors in particular created a caring campus environment.


Sherry Fukuzawa

University of Toronto - Mississauga

Jackie Goodman

University of Toronto - Mississauga

Chad Jankowski

University of Toronto - Mississauga

Wednesday December 9, 2015 1:00pm - 1:30pm EST
Meeting Room A

1:30pm EST

ACT in the University Classroom: An Investigation of Academic and Social Impacts
Levels of stress and anxiety amongst Canadian undergraduate students have increased in recent years (Booth, Sharma, & Leader, 2015). University accommodations due to panic attacks, test anxiety, and ongoing anxiety have become common in this population. Considering this and the fact that students are quite unlikely to seek professional help (Coles, Coleman, & Schubert, 2015), students need some strategies to help them manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a technique that is commonly used to manage stress and anxiety by teaching individuals to pay attention to the present moment through meditative practice. A newer intervention that incorporates mindfulness is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It combines the use of acceptance and mindfulness strategies with commitment and behaviour change strategies that focus on a person’s values, and has been shown to help individuals and groups manage stress and anxiety, even when presented as a brief intervention. We are interested in testing whether we can reveal benefits of implementing ACT in a university classroom setting. Given the time constraints inherent in university courses, it is relevant to determine how brief an intervention can be and still be effective. Thus, we are comparing two different schedules of ACT (distributed and condensed) in two sections of the same course. Students complete the activities as a group and have an opportunity to discuss their experiences. Selected effects on test anxiety, stress, and student experience will be reported.


Sarah Kupferschmidt

Mohawk College

Heather Poole

McMaster University
Heather Poole is a postdoctoral fellow at the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Heather's background is in experimental psychology.

Wanda Smith

McMaster University

Wednesday December 9, 2015 1:30pm - 2:00pm EST
Meeting Room A

2:00pm EST

Blanket Fort Pedagogy: Playing with Mad Culture to Foster Accessible, Welcoming, and Fun Learning Communities

There is an emerging emphasis on “community” in post-secondary education, with increased attention to community-engaged learning and fostering community in the classroom. However, not all students can access these versions of “community” or feel welcome in them. In particular, individualized approaches to mental health on campus that send Mad students away from community to receive treatment services and academic accommodations suggest to these students that they are not wanted in our learning “communities” as currently envisioned.

This presentation will highlight the intentional peer support community that Mad students at McMaster have been hanging out and creating since 2012, thanks to hundreds of years ofmental patient social movement organizing. In this crazy sub-community, values of accessibility, creativity, reciprocity, friendship, consent, and privacy offer different possibilities for connection and learning than traditionally found in the classroom. The co-curricular learning that occurs in the Hamilton Mad Students Collective helps protect students from inaccessible and sanist classrooms and curricula. But what if some of this community creativity spilled over into the rational/“professional” spaces of academia?

Drawing on our collective experiences as classroom and community educators, Mad(ness) Studies and Social Work Pedagogy researchers, service users, and students, this presentation will explore how neglected and subversive “fun” can open up possibilities for education. We will share how Fun Parties, blanket forts, and craftivist hallway decorations instigated by Mad students offer new ways of relating – to ourselves, to each other, to spaces, to social justice work, to academia – in the School of Social Work at McMaster University.


Alise de Bie

McMaster University

Becky Idems

McMaster University

Wednesday December 9, 2015 2:00pm - 2:30pm EST
Meeting Room A

2:30pm EST

The Impact of Violence on Learning: Cultivating a Caring Academic Community

This short paper will address the impact of violence in the lives of students and how it affects their learning, their sense of academic potential and vision for their future. Session participants will be invited to engage with how we as teachers and administrators can collaborate to create learning environments that are responsive and flexible in addressing students' diverse learning needs.

Over the past two decases there has been an increased commitment to create safe university and college campuses and to address issues of violence in intimate or dating relationships. Yet little has been done proactively to acknowledge and address the needs of students who have experienced violence in their home. Women students and those who identify as LGBTTQ are particualrly affected by the trauma of violence in their lives. They are often not able to concentrate, complete assignments, feel confident or engage in class or co-curricular activities

Teachers are often the first people students share their experience with, yet we are not trained to response to such trauma. Responding to the harm and violence in students' lives is critical to the success of our increasingly diverse student populations - it's a new dimension to our roles in cultivating a welcoming and comprehensive learning community.


Connie Guberman

University of Toronto - Scarborough

Wednesday December 9, 2015 2:30pm - 3:00pm EST
Meeting Room A