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Tuesday, January 29, 2013



  • Supporting student retention and success
  • Music and Culture in London and Leipzig
  • Tuesday's notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Success coach Andrea Prier engages with a pair of students as she stands in front of a presentation screen featuring UNIV 101 slides.
Supporting student retention and success

by Jodi Szimanski, Student Success Office

The University of Waterloo saw a new course listing in the calendar for Fall 2012 – UNIV 101.

University 101, Strategies and Skills for Academic Success, is designed for students experiencing academic difficulty in their first year as part of the university’s mission to support academic and life skills development. It provides:

  • Proven strategies for taking course notes, time management and improving personal wellness;
  • Weekly support and evaluation to develop effective study habits; and
  • Tools to become more self-aware.

“It’s another way to help students recover their self-confidence so that they can realize their potential,” said Barb Moffatt, associate dean, science, student relations. “By working with the course instructors, students can learn skills that were missing and limiting their success.”

Engineering first ran a version of the course in spring 2011 called GENE 199. Andrea Prier (pictured above), success coach with the Student Success Office, developed the curriculum and now teaches the course with Bill Owen, associate director, first-year engineering.

“Students that use the tools we teach them do well,” said Owen. “Many of the students that have gone through are now achieving higher averages using the skills they learned in GENE 199.”

Prier then worked with the Faculty of Science to pilot UNIV 101 in winter 2012 before she worked with the other faculties. The partnership between the success coaches and the faculties was the first centralized effort to identify and help students at risk. According to Bill Chesney, associate dean of arts, undergraduate studies, it’s a “central acknowledgement of the challenges that some students face.”

Ron McCarville, associate dean, undergraduate studies for applied health sciences chaired the first task force on Student Success. He believes that we need to immerse our students into a learning community to help them be a fully functioning member of the community.

After being referred by an academic advisor, students take UNIV 101 along with two other courses relating to their program of study as a “Foundation Term”. By offering faculty-specific versions of UNIV 101 we help students with study challenges specific to their disciplines. The reduced course load gives students time to practice the new skills taught in UNIV 101 immediately in the context of their chosen discipline. UNIV 101 is co-taught by a faculty member and a success coach so that students benefit from the expertise of both. Students are expressing that UNIV 101 has:

  • “…helped me manage my time and my workload”
  • “…helped me understand who I am and my values, how to achieve my goals and my learning style”
  • “…impacted my marks positively. Being able to retain and recall information during midterms and finals was helpful. I also learned a lot about myself.”

Though still new, UNIV 101 shows signs of helping students increase their marks, and that is in the best interest of all stakeholders. By helping our students build a base of academic and life skills, we not only ensure their success in their first year and the rest of their time at Waterloo, but we help them prepare for success in their chosen professions.

Photograph by Jonathan Bielaski, Light Imaging.


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Music and Culture in London and Leipzig

Kenneth Hull, associate professor of music at Conrad Grebel University College, has taken students on a travel course to London, UK four times in the past few years, but this time around, a new destination has been added - Leipzig, Germany.

Music and Culture in London and Leipzig will be offered from June 6 to 23, 2013 and students will divide their time between London and Leipzig, two regions with a rich musical history.

"The idea of this course is to expose students to a slice of the rich and diverse cultural life of these two cities," Hull writes. "Much of the music that students study during their degree programs originated in Europe, and a travel course like this one enriches their education by allowing them to experience some of the cultural context out of which the music grew."

The course has been timed to coincide with the Leipzig Bach festival, an annual celebration of the music of J.S. Bach, who spent the last two decades of his life there.

"London is one of the musical and cultural capitals of the world," writes Hull. "It has four major symphony orchestras, two full-time opera companies, superb choral music at St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and many other city churches. Leipzig is a major centre of publishing and learning, and Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann and many other composers made their homes there. The international Bach Festival is held there every June, and the world's greatest Bach conductors and musicians converge on Leipzig and provide almost non-stop music, with as many as ten events a day.

The trip will include a Rossini opera at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the choirs of St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, with visits to the British Museum and Handel House Museum. A day trip to Cambridge will feature the choir of King's College singing Evensong. in Leipzig, students will attend numerous Bach festival concerts, and also hear the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. Tours of the Mendelssohn and Schumann house museums are also scheduled, as is a visit to the Nicolaikirche, where the protest movement that led to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall began.

Course and registration information can be found either online or by contacting Professor Hull.


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Tuesday's notes

"At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944", written by Dutch student David Koker during his imprisonment in the Vught concentration camp and edited by Robert Jan van Pelt, University Professor in Waterloo's School of Architecture, was named a finalist in the 2012 National Jewish Book Awards. Van Pelt, a leading Holocaust expert, also wrote the book's introduction, with Michiel Horn and John Irons translating Koker's diary for its first English printing.

The Federation of Students is hosting a debate for all the candidates running in the upcoming student election. It will be held today from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Student Life Centre's Great Hall. "The uWaterloo community is invited to attend to learn more about the candidates and what they believe are the important issues," writes the federation's Jacqueline Martinz. More information about elections and voting is available online.

The 26th annual Mathematics Faculty Awards Ceremony will be held this Thursday, January 31, in the Festival Room of South Campus Hall. The ceremony honours first-year entrance award winners, upper-year Senate scholarship winners, students who have done well in university competitions, and recipients of numerous one-time awards.


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Link of the day

Freethinkers Day

When and where

The Department of Housing and Residences Housing Fair, Wednesday, January 30, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Student Consultation Group, "Food Services: How Can They Meet Your Needs?" Wednesday, January 30, 12:15 p.m., Student Success Office multipurpose room. Details.

CIGI Collaborative Research Awards (CRA) information session, Wednesday, January 30, 2:00 p.m., Balsillie School of International Affairs room 1-23. Details.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Renée Miller, University of Toronto, "Big Data Curation," Wednesday, January 30, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Waterloo Engineering presents "Engineering Healthcare - live webcast," Wednesday, January 30, 6:00 p.m. Details.

History Speaker Series event featuring Devon Elliott, PhD Candidate, University of Western Ontario, “The 3D Historian : Technologies for Experimenting with Form, Matter, and Interaction,” Thursday, January 31, 11:30 a.m., HH 117.

Organizational and Human Development presents "Navigating Through the University Registration Process", Thursday, January 31, 12:00 p.m., TC 2218 a/b.

UW Biomedical Seminar Series featuring Dr. Claire Davies, University of Auckland, New Zealand, "Increasing independence: Integrating perception, cognition and physical motor control into therapy strategies," Thursday, January 31, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Department of Religious Studies presents Dr. Prema Kurien, Maxwell School of Syracuse University, "Race, Religion and U.S. Immigration Today - The Political Integration of Indian Americans," Thursday, January 31, 2:30 p.m., EV3 4438.

26th Annual Math Faculty Awards Ceremony, Thursday, January 31 cocktails at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Observations and Free Inquiries seminar featuring Hamid Tizhoosh, Systems Design Engineering, "The Nature of Violence - Why ideas and beliefs cause violence" Thursday, January 31, 5:30 p.m., E5 6004.Details.

Waterloo Engineering presents "Clean, Green, Self-Driving Machines - live webcast," Thursday, January 31, 6:00 p.m. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture featuring Jennifer Keesmaat, "Practices in City Building," Thursday, January 31, 6:45 p.m. Details.

Deadline for Distinguished Teacher Award nominations, Friday, February 1.

Knowledge Integration seminar: KI alumni panel, Friday February 1, 2:30 p.m., Environment 3 room 1408. Details.

Science and Technology in Society Collaboration and the Philosophy Department present Dr. Nancy Tuana, "Coupled Ethical-Epistemic Issues in the Climate Sciences," Friday, February 1, 3:30 p.m., HH 334. Details.

The KW Linux User Group presents "A grassRoots History of the Early Hi-tech Community in KW", Monday, February 4, St. John's Kitchen, 97 Victoria St. North, Kitchener. Details.

Turkish Students Association presents Turkish Classes at UW, Tuesday, February 5, and Tuesdays thereafter, 5:00 p.m., RCH 106. Details.

MDEI Program Information Session, Wednesday, February 6, 12:00 p.m., Stratford Campus, 12:00 p.m. Details.

Noon Hour Concert series featuring the Crusell Trio, "Classical music on original instruments: No valves and not enough keys!" Wednesday, February 6, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel.

UW Drama Department presents On Love, Wednesday, February 6 to Saturday, February 9, Hagey Hall 180.

Kitchener Public Library Ideas and Issues Lecture Series featuring Professor Gary Bruce, Department of History, "Displaying animals…and humans: The Berlin Zoo in German History," Wednesday, February 6, 12:00 p.m., Forest Heights Community Library, Kitchener.

Deadline for Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student nominations, Friday, February 8.

FASS presents FASS for President, Thursday, February 7, 8:00 p.m., Friday, February 8, 7:00 p.m., Saturday, February 9, 7:00 p.m. All shows at the Humanities Theatre. Details.

Town Hall Meeting, Tuesday, February 12, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.


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