[University of Waterloo]


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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

  • Eye on 'work-learning integration'
  • 'Mind plays tricks on memory'
  • Notes on some slippery subjects
Chris Redmond

HAL becomes a teenager today

Alumni director is named

[Coolman] Director of alumni affairs for UW, as of January 4, is Jason Coolman (right), who was previously a development officer in charge of "major gifts and special programs" in the development and alumni affairs office. Announcing the appointment, Bob Copeland, senior director of development and alumni, said Coolman "has been instrumental in leading successful alumni outreach fundraising appeals at Microsoft, IBM and a number of major accounting firms currently in progress. Jason brings a strong creative vision and integrated team approach to the position." He can be reached at ext. 2969. The former director of alumni affairs, Gwen Graper, became an assistant registrar in late fall.

Eye on 'work-learning integration'

"There are some pretty clear issues emerging" from a review of UW's co-op programs, says the administrator in charge -- adding that in fact the review will likely address a broader field than just co-op.

Definitely the project, which was announced early last year, is more than just a review of the department of co-operative education and career services, says Bruce Mitchell, associate provost (academic and student services), who's heading the "overview committee" as the study moves ahead.

He said this week that a key set of documents should be ready next month: the "self-study" reports that are coming from CECS and the six faculties about their involvement in co-op. Meanwhile, the committee has collected advice from some key people inside UW, from senior administrators to psychology professor Pat Rowe, whose research includes extensive work on the impact of co-op programs on student learning. Some outside experts have also been heard from, and student focus groups have been held with the help of the Federation of Students, Mitchell said.

A massive survey of co-op students was done two years ago, and the results are at hand. A survey of employers is being done now, and input is also expected from the Waterloo Advisory Council (which represents employers) and the Waterloo Alumni Council.

Finally, a team of about five outside reviewers will make a three-day visit -- likely March 21-23 -- to "take a higher-level view and give us strategic advice", says Mitchell. That group is expected to report by the end of the winter term, and then Mitchell's committee "will work very hard to get a final report done."

He said the important issues that have surfaced so far include the timing of a student's introduction to co-op -- first year? second year? -- and the ideal length of a work term: typically UW students go to jobs for four months, but many employers would prefer a term of eight months or longer.

[Mitchell] Beyond the structure of the existing program, the associate provost said, the committee is interested in "other forms of work-learning integration", such as internships, exchanges and part-time employment, that might offer more UW students the chance to link classroom and workplace in various ways. How could such programs be organized? How would on-the-job learning be assessed? What about the traditional close partnership between the university and co-op employers in monitoring students' progress? These are the kinds of issues that will be important, Mitchell (left) said.

The project will, he said, "help the university clarify how it wishes to position itself for the future": primarily as the university that pioneered co-op education in Canada, or now as the university where a broader range of "work-learning integration" is practised? Either way, there's a determination for Waterloo to remain a "national leader", he said.

The review will also look at the "professional development" courses that were recently introduced in engineering, and are under consideration in the other faculties, maintaining an academic connection with students while they're on co-op jobs. And it will cast an eye on the co-op and career services department itself, how it operates, how it's financed, and the perennial "tension" between serving students and serving employers.

Mitchell noted that the review will look at career services as well as at co-op, asking, "What are the range of services in the spirit of best practices that you might expect to find? And how does Waterloo offer them?"

'Mind plays tricks on memory' -- from the research office's Showcase web site

[Ross] Michael Ross, a professor of psychology at UW, has long studied the tricks that mind plays on memory. He has shown, for example, that people who fall out of love remember caring less for their former partner than they actually did.

Ross has also found that people who take useless self-improvement courses manage to convince themselves that they have improved, not by distorting their present status but by exaggerating their deficiencies before the course. In essence, participants say to themselves: "I may not be perfect now but I was much worse before taking the course."

In these examples (and others studied by Ross and his students) people revise the past in ways that help them to feel good about their decisions and actions.

In recent research with colleague Anne Wilson, Ross has found that the mind also plays tricks on peoplešs subjective experience of time. Although people typically feel closer to episodes that happened yesterday than to events that occurred earlier, subjective experience does not always track actual time. Many real-life experiences, such as changing jobs or romantic partners, affect feelings of subjective distance from past episodes, making them feel more remote. Personal experiences may also cause the distant past to feel close; i.e. revisiting a childhood haunt or attending a school reunion may make ancient history seem recent.

As well, Ross finds that differences in the evaluative implications of past episodes affect peoplešs feelings of subjective distance. To protect their self-regard, people are motivated to feel farther from past failings than from achievements, even when calendar time is the same. Distancing helps individuals put undesirable behaviour behind them.

Rossšs research helps us to understand the links between autobiographical memory and self-identity. Although memory is usually accurate enough to serve our everyday needs, it is certainly not an objective record of the past. People construct pasts that help them to maintain their preferred representations of themselves.

His findings on memory distortion have been applied in various settings in which the veridicality of memory is important, including clinical therapy, eyewitness testimony, and surveys.

Let's Make a Deal contest (quit smoking or "continue to be completely smoke-free"), registration continues through Friday, 10:30 to 2:30, Student Life Centre.

Credit union seminar: "Is Your RRSP Ready for the Next Growth Stage?" Kevin Dopko, Waterloo County Education Credit Union, Wednesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP ext. 3574.

Vocal and jazz piano concert, Mark Eisenman and Bonnie Brett, Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Warrior volleyball vs. Windsor: women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Blood donor clinic January 13 and 17-21, Student Life Centre.

On-campus part-time job fair Thursday noon to 2:00, Student Life Centre great hall. (On-campus employers can contact Pam Martin, ext. 6055.)

Open Text Corp. CEO Tom Jenkins speaks: "Managing Change in High Growth Situations", Thursday 5 p.m., Davis Centre room 1350, sponsored by Entrepreneurs Association and Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology. Networking and reception will follow.

Society of International Students welcome party tonight 6 p.m., general meeting Thursday 6 p.m., both in Rod Coutts Hall room 308.

Warrior Weekend activities Friday and Saturday evenings, including movies, salsa and meringue lessons, and "The Ultimate UW Survivor Competition", details online.

Alumni job search workshop Saturday, Tatham Centre, details online.

Niagara Winter Festival of Lights trip organized by Society of International Students, Saturday, tickets at Student Life Centre, noon hour today or at SIS events.

'Facilitating Effective Discussions' workshop sponsored by teaching resource office, Tuesday 12 noon, details and registration online.

On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Administrator, contracts research and industrial grants, office of research, USG 7
  • Stationary engineer third class, plant operations
  • Institutional analyst, institutional analysis and planning, USG 10/11

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • Notes on some slippery subjects

    "Not much fun driving this morning!" a co-worker grimaced as I was arriving. Indeed it wasn't. On this icy day, the local public school board cancelled its buses, but kept schools open -- and so, according to long-established practice, the university remains open for work and classes.

    My flying fingers flew in the wrong directions yesterday when I wrote that "Bruce Dixon" of the biology department was on sabbatical leave. That should have been Brian Dixon, whose research centres on proteins and toxins in the immune systems of fish.

    A "volunteer fair" will run from 11:00 to 2:00 today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. "Come and visit," a flyer suggests, "with representatives from a variety of agencies to find out about volunteer opportunities. Agencies that work with children, health issues, seniors, arts and many more interest groups will be available to discuss volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a good investment with big results." The event is co-sponsored by the career services department and the Federation of Students.

    Here's a memo from the office of the registrar: "Registered Undergraduate Students can view their official fall term grades in QUEST on January 21. From now until January 21, unofficial term grades begin to appear in QUEST daily. This means not all grades may appear as grades are submitted and revised daily; standings and term totals will also not appear. Grades become official on January 21, at which point the official and complete term grades will appear along with academic standings. January 21 is the date when official transcripts that have been ordered will begin to be released. To view grades in QUEST, select For Students>Academic Summary>Course/Grade History."

    Sad news from the Early Childhood Education Centre in the department of psychology, as reported in its newsletter: "Our fish, Bertrum, died just before the holidays. I'm sure you heard about it from your child as there was much debate about what should be done with Bertrum. The JK children took a leadership role in this with ideas to bury Bertrum or flush him down the toilet. They conducted a quick survey of all the children in the ECEC, tallied the results and carried out the flushing ceremony. This was one of those teachable moments when we could address a tough topic as a result of a natural everyday occurrence. Our feelings were discussed and continue to be talked about as we miss Bertrum. The ECEC has some children's stories and parent resources about death available for borrowing."

    Postings for spring term co-op jobs begin today, as students prepare for employer interviews between January 31 and mid-February. . . . Amy Wan Mei Chan, a librarian based in the University Map and Design Library, retired January 1, ending a UW career that began in 1968. . . . Here's a reminder that library books borrowed on term loan before the beginning of December are due today. . . .


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