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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

  • Employers 'cautious' in co-op hiring
  • Teaching: 'a smorgasbord of ways'
  • Campaign profiles football coach
  • Other notes and events today
Chris Redmond

Birthday of Canada's second prime minister

Employers 'cautious' in co-op hiring

Co-op unemployment figures are "higher than normal" with the winter term under way, says a memo from Bruce Lumsden, director of co-op education and career services.

As of January 14, he says, 88.4 per cent of co-op students who were supposed to have jobs this term actually had them -- 3,840 out of 4,344.

Employment rates range from 83.3 per cent in science and 84.7 per cent in architecture up to 95.4 per cent in applied health sciences -- and 100 per cent among the 10 students in the teaching option who happened to be in line for jobs this winter.

But the largest number of unemployed students, 171 out of the total 504, are in mathematics. Right behind math is engineering, with 154 unemployed, mostly at the first-year level.

A year ago at this time, almost 91 per cent of students had jobs.

"This is the second term where we have experienced higher than normal unemployment figures at the beginning of the work term," Lumsden writes. "In spite of some general optimism around the economy, the reality is that employers seem to be taking a more cautious approach in their hiring strategies.

"The University is deeply concerned about this situation and is making every effort to provide leadership and to demonstrate its ongoing commitment by employing more co-op students across the University. This not only will provide employment for co-op students but will also engage the wider University community in the co-op experience. The CECS department is available to offer advice and support to those departments who are first time employers of co-op students."

Teaching: 'a smorgasbord of ways'

I wrote yesterday about the "UW Online Environment", being developed in the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, and promised to return to an idea that lies behind it: the "T5 model" for teaching and learning. So here we are.

T5 is pretty much credited to Tom Carey, who heads LT3 as UW's associate vice-president (learning resources and technology), and in spite of the "technology" label, it's made clear that the "model" is independent of high-tech means of delivering courses. Evidence for that: Diane Salter and Les Richards of the LT3 staff are just back from two weeks in Sri Lanka, where computer networks are in short supply, training educators there in the use of T5 as a way of planning instruction.

"It comes from theory about student-centred learning," said Salter, as she and some LT3 colleagues explained their approach. It involves looking at Task, Tutoring, Teamwork, Topics (the content of the course) and Tools, and those five T-words are said to be applicable in just about any learning situation.

Still, the keenest interest in LT3 is in using T5 to design online courses, or at least parts of courses -- for example, assignments that can be done electronically to prepare for face-to-face lectures. "We can now change what's going on in the classroom," says Salter. In particular, exercises to be done before a class starts can counteract the human tendency for students not to do the assigned reading, and can help balance the workload so there isn't an end-of-term panic to read and learn four months' worth of material.

"Because it's task-based," Richards says about a well-planned online assignment, "there's a focus. When the student is doing their readings, they now know what they're looking for." The result: lectures can build on what students already know, rather than telling them what they should have learned but didn't.

"It's more than just the content," says Salter, talking about what can be done through online quizzes, discussion groups and other Tools. "It's a place where students can be involved -- with the content and with the instructor. . . . There's a whole smorgasbord of ways of doing things."

The goal, she said, is a learning environment that's "student-centred, student-friendly. It needs to be a dialogue, not a monologue. It's the engagement with the material that really is the catalyst to learning."

The T5 approach to teaching is a major part of the "New Classroom" workshop series that LT3 has now given to about 100 UW faculty members. Another round of "The New Classroom" is scheduled to start in mid-February.

[At the blackboard]

Campaign profiles football coach

Chris Triantafilou, better known as Coach Tri, "has followed an unlikely path to become Head Coach of the UW football team", says a profile published the other day as part of the Keystone Campaign advertising. (The photo at left is by Sherri Bowen of UW Graphics.)

Says the profile, which appeared as a free advertisement in the Gazette: "Being cut from the football team in grade 9 and 10 didn't stop Chris from playing in his senior years of high school. And it wasn't until he was 21 years old that Coach left his native Toronto for the first time, to pursue a university education. Coach Tri not only earned one of the first Bachelor of Physical Education degrees granted by WLU, he also received a degree in Sociology and a minor in Social Work.

"At UW, he worked his way up the ranks from folding towels and driving the zamboni to leading the Warrior football team. He also co-ordinates varsity squash, curling, figure skating and is the OUA convenor for curling."

Then it moves into questions and answers, edging towards the topic of the Keystone Campaign, which is the staff, faculty and retiree segment of UW's six-year Campaign Waterloo.

What is your favourite part of your job? "Winning, of course! But my real pleasure comes from when the kids come back after they've had success in life. I take pride in the number of great athletes at UW who are also academically strong."

What do you value about UW? "The kids -- from all the sports I'm involved with -- they keep me young. I especially love the hidden success stories and the vision of the future that's held by our students."

Why do you feel the University requires funds today? "Funding is required because the pockets are only so deep and we're always digging deeper -- there's always more to do on Waterloo's campus. My gift goes towards ensuring we have excellent programs for our athletes."

What's your best UW memory? "One of my first acts as coach was to suspend an athlete from the team. I spent a lot of time on the phone with his parents, who hadn't spoken to each other since shortly after their separation 10 years earlier. Remarkably, a year later, everything had worked out fine, and at the All-Canadian banquet both the athlete and his parents sat together at the same table."

Other notes and events today

Campaigning begins today, as undergraduate students move toward electing the 2003-04 leaders of the Federation of Students. The first in a series of candidates' forums is scheduled for 11:30 this morning in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Five people are seeking the post of Fed president, and there are also multi-candidate races for the three vice-presidential positions. (The handiest place to see a list of candidates, and follow the campaign, would be on 'uwstudent.org'.) Voting will take place electronically, February 7 through 12.

A part of the ring road near Engineering III, will be closed today until 5 p.m., the plant operations department warns. "Air handling units for the Engineering III addition will be hoisted onto the roof," says construction coordinator Hans Knepper. "There will be no vehicular access to Engineering II, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences and the Davis Centre library loading dock." Arrangements are being made to let Kitchener Transit buses through, however.

A blood donor clinic continues in the the Student Life Centre today through Thursday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). . . . Tours of the new Co-op and Career Services building will be offered again today at 12:00 and 12:30 (meet in the main lobby). . . . People from Apple will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Computer Store to answer customer questions about new Apple products, including the new 17-inch PowerBook. . . .

I don't get to watch much daytime television, and I didn't realize that "The Price Is Right" was still in business; but there it is, and apparently a UW student is one of the contestants on the show that airs today. Systems design student Jeff Rambharack is a big winner on the episode, according to his buddy Justin Coughlin, who described the studio taping in Friday's Imprint.

A presentation about the Midnight Sun solar car starts at 1 p.m. today at the Graduate House. . . . The next session in the Women's Health Series for Newcomers to Canada runs from 1:00 to 3:00 at the community centre in UW Place. . . . Two career services workshops are scheduled for 4:30 today: "Selling Your Skills" and "Your Own Business: Next Steps". . . .

Here's a note from math student Vicki Ferguson:

The women's fastpitch team at UW has been accepted into the Ontario Intercollegiate Women's Fastpitch Association, and begins league play in fall 2003. We will not be an official Warrior team this fall, as fastball is not yet an OUA sport. I have been told by the athletic department that we must obtain OUA status first, which requires athletic directors from six universities to sign off on the sport. The Ontario Intercollegiate Women's Fastpitch Association currently has nine teams competing in league play. Some of the associated schools are in the process of reshuffling or cutting back on their varsity programs, but we have been given hope that we might obtain OUA status as early as next year (and consequently, varsity status). We are cooperating fully with our UW athletic department to make that happen.
The team will hold open workouts this Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m., at the Columbia Icefield gym. Interested players can contact Ferguson at vpfergus@uwaterloo.ca.

On the calendar for tomorrow is a reading by Toronto poet and novelist Sue Sinclair; it'll start at 4 p.m. in the common room at St. Jerome's University.

And some big things are scheduled for later in the week:

However, another big event that had been scheduled for this week has been cancelled, a casualty of the standoff between UW administrators and the Federation of Students about how the liquor licence for student pubs is to be administered. "The Big Chill", which was to take over the whole Student Life Centre for "the biggest party of the term" on Friday night, is now off the calendar.


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