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Monday, January 9, 2006

  • TRACE introduces next director
  • Google deal sparks local pride
  • Grads preparing their research talks
Chris Redmond

The standing at Arafat

TRACE introduces next director

Catherine Schryer of UW's department of English is easing into her future role as director of the Teaching Resources and Continuing Education office, or TRACE, says the January issue of TRACE's newsletter Teaching Matters.

[Schryer] Schryer (right) is scheduled to take over in August from the current director, Barbara Bulman-Fleming of the psychology department. "For this term," Bulman-Fleming writes, "Catherine will be a part-time TRACE Faculty Associate. Then in the spring term, she will assume more duties, as Co-Director. This will ensure a smooth transition."

TRACE provides a consulting service for faculty members and other teachers at UW, and offers workshops on teaching issues, mostly aimed at graduate students in the Certificate in University Teaching program. It has close links with other units and programs that report to the associate vice-president for learning resources and innovation.

Schryer, who lists herself as a specialist in healthcare communication and genre theory, is active in groups as diverse as the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing and the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research. She was president of the UW faculty association from 2000 to 2004.

"Much of my research focus should prove useful to the position," Schryer writes in the TRACE newsletter about the job she's about to take on."My various research programs over the past fifteen years have been exploring teaching and learning practices in workplaces and in healthcare organizations. I have observed numerous classrooms and learning situations and interviewed faculty and students in settings as diverse as hospital corridors, pathology labs, and office cubicles. This research focus derives from my background in rhetoric and writing research, a tradition that has always had a strong interest in education and pedagogy.

"From the perspective of scholars in my field, beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning are present in any pedagogical interaction. However, my own research (and that of many others) has documented that pedagogical values and associated practices may be tacit. Much of my interaction with healthcare educators has consisted in questioning some of their tacit practices to see if these practitioners actually approve of their own teaching methods -- and sometimes they do not. . . .

"I learned that the different disciplines have quite distinct "voices" or ways of communicating and teaching within their fields. Often good reasons exist for the prevalence of certain practices. I have learned, too, that teaching is a kind of expertise that develops over time with the help of a great many people. Sometimes that assistance comes in the form of direct instruction but it also comes in the form of hallway chats or by simply observing another practitioner in action. Most importantly, the general organizational culture has to support teaching for it to flourish. . . .

"I plan on listening, observing and learning. . . . Most importantly, I need to find out more about what TRACE already does well and support and build on that expertise.

"And then I have some general agenda items. As should be evident, I am interested in supporting research on teaching and learning and related best practices especially within disciplinary settings. I am also interested in promoting even better lines of communication between the different groups that support teaching and learning on campus."

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  • Google deal sparks local pride

    Purchase of a local high-tech company by Google Inc. "demonstrates why the Waterloo Region is becoming one of North America's premier technology centres", says a proud statement from Communitech, the association for high-tech industry in this area.

    "There is tremendous momentum in the Waterloo Region, with some of the world's leading technology companies coming here and complimenting the innovative companies that have started operations in the Waterloo Region," says Iain Klugman, president of Communitech, in a news release issued Friday. "We have a very strong talent base, a unique infrastructure that supports entrepreneurship, and a group of companies that are developing cutting edge technology. They're some of the reasons why the Waterloo Region is one of the fastest growing centres in North America and a great place to run a business."

    Google echoed these comments in a statement on its decision to acquire Reqwireless Inc.: "We acquired Reqwireless because of the talented engineers and great technology. We're thrilled to have them here."

    Waterloo Region, said Communitech, "is the birthplace of world-renowned industry leaders like Research In Motion (RIM), DALSA and COM DEV International, and has a well-deserved reputation for developing and commercializing breakthrough technologies. In addition to many homegrown technology companies, companies such as Adobe, Siebel, AGFA and McAfee also have established operations in the Waterloo Region."

    Communitech pointed out that Waterloo has just been named a finalist for the 2006 Top Seven Intelligent Communities and was named to the Smart 21 by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum. Meanwhile, PricewaterhouseCoopers named Waterloo Region "Canada's best place to invest" in a report issued in September 2005 called Making Magic in Waterloo Region; A Report on the Exceptional Investment and Entrepreneurial Potential of Canada's Hottest High-Tech Location.

    And the association pointed out that UW, "renowned as Canada's top university for its science and mathematics programs, recently announced the opening of their first international office in Manhattan, steps away from the New York Stock Exchange on Wall St."

    It said Waterloo Region has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada. "The area also boasts affordable housing prices, a full complement of city infrastructure, three world-class universities and the top-ranked college, lots of outdoor recreational facilities and is a great, safe place to raise a family."

    Campus recreation instructional programs registration today though Thursday, 9 to 4, Physical Activities Complex.

    Fall term work reports due today by 4 p.m. in most co-op programs.

    Co-op student information sessions about the new early-match procedure, today 4:30 Arts Lecture hall room 113, Tuesday 4:30, AL room 116.

    Waterloo Aeronautical Robotics Group recruitment meeting 5:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

    Payroll sign-up for graduate students: Graduate Student Association information available Tuesday 1:00 to 3:30, human resources payroll registration 2:00 to 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Payroll registration also available Wednesday 10 to 11 a.m., DC 1302.

    'Meet Your NDP Candidates' pub night sponsored by UW Association of New Democrats, Tuesday 6 to 10:30, Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre. NDP candidates

    'Educational Games: A Dialogue in Two Parts', presentation by Denis Dyack, Silicon Knights, Wednesday 12 noon, Flex lab, Dana Porter Library, registration online.

    Health informatics research seminar: Mary Thompson, statistics and actuarial science, "The Quality of Survey Data", Wednesday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1304.

    Health sciences campus student housing information session for developers and landlords, Wednesday 7:30, South Campus Hall, information housing@uwaterloo.ca.

    'Eating Mindfully' workshop with Marilyn Perdue, counselling services, presented by Employee Assistance Program, January 20, 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302, registration with Johan Reis, health services.

    Grads preparing their research talks

    Two weeks from today is the deadline for graduate students to apply for a slot in Canada's biggest event of its kind: UW's annual Graduate Student Research Conference, to be held April 3-6 in the Davis Centre.

    The conference, its web site promises, will provide "an opportunity to keep abreast of some of the research in which your colleagues in other departments are involved . . . discuss your research with other graduate students, faculty, and members of the general community, and increase awareness of your research . . . acquire valuable experience in presenting professional-level talks and poster presentations at an academic conference . . . meet potential employers."

    It includes both 15-minute oral presentations and poster spaces, and there are no conference fees. "Any currently enrolled UW graduate student or postdoctoral fellow may submit a presentation proposal," says the web site. "You have the option of asking to have your presentation judged and eligible for an award. All abstracts in the judged category will be reviewed by a Program Committee comprised of students and Faculty members. Students will be notified if their abstract is accepted in the judged or non-judged category. . . .

    "A good presentation is one that is aimed at a general university audience. Award-winning presentations are characteristically informative and interesting, well organized, contain clear explanations, and employ effective visual aids. Faculty members from across the disciplines at Waterloo are recruited to serve as judges."

    Presentations are in three divisions: health, life and environment; physical sciences and technology; and social sciences and humanities. When students apply to take part, they're asked not just for an abstract of their work, but for a note on the "World Relevance/Commercial Value/Human Value" of their work, which will be included in the conference program with their listing. Students apply through the conference web site, with a deadline of January 23.

    Attendance at the talks will be open to "anyone interested in finding out more about the research activities at UW . . . graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and staff, and anyone from the surrounding community, including industry representatives."

    Besides the student talks, there's a conference banquet. And a keynote speaker for this year's event has just been announced: Roméo Dallaire, retired Canadian Forces general and author of Shake Hands with the Devil, a memoir of his service in Rwanda during the genocide there in 1994.

    Dallaire will speak Monday, April 3, at 8 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre. Tickets for his lecture will be distributed to conference participants, and other tickets will be available for sale through the Humanities box office after the price and other details are set.


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