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UBC Reports Nov 2, 2006

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VOLUME   52   I   NUMBER   11   I   NOVEMBER   2,   200
Birds of a Feather, Discovered Together
After millions of years of
separation, two divergent forms
of North American winter wrens
have finally come together, and
UBC zoologists have discovered
And for this avian version of
West Side Story, Maria and Tony
aren't hitting it off... yet.
Divided by glaciation during
the Pleistocene Epoch 1.8 million
years ago, winter wrens have
evolved into different subspecies
with distinct songs and genetic
codes. Eastern winter wrens
are found across eastern North
America and as far west as
Alberta, while western wrens
inhabit the Pacific coastal belt
between Alaska and Oregon.
Scientists have theorized
that the eastern and western
populations would meet
somewhere in the middle, along
the Rockies, but no one has been
able to pinpoint where or, if they
co-exist somewhere, whether
they would interbreed.
Determined to find the elusive
contact zone, UBC Zoology Asst.
Prof. Darren Irwin spent a few
UBC graduate student David Toews with a winter wren in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. The eastern (r) and western (I)
are identical to the human eye but sing dramatically different songs.
weeks traveling in northeastern
British Columbia and Alberta
during the summer of 2005.
"I had arrived in the Peace
River area and was actually quite
discouraged after a few days of
not seeing a single winter wren,
recalls Irwin.
"One day I was at a motel
in Dawson Creek and Googled
'Peace River' and 'winter wren,'
and came across a map of bird
sightings created by a local
birdwatching group called the
South Peace Bird Atlas Society,
showing a high concentration
of winter wrens around a town
nearby called Tumbler Ridge,"
says Irwin.
He set out on a hike and
before long, the birds started
It was music to his ears
- both eastern and western
wrens singing their own special
songs within 100 metres of one
another. Subsequent genetic
testing of blood samples and
song analysis carried out by his
graduate student David Toews
have confirmed that the two
types of wren living in Tumbler
Ridge are as different as those
from New York and Vancouver
- so much so that the pair are
making a case in an upcoming
journal article to classify the two
as separate species.
Despite looking almost
identical to the human eye and
continued on page 3
Driver Education Not Enough
For safer roads we must turn to technology, says researcher
Rick Clapton once believed
driver training helped improve
safety for motorists, but those
views have taken a sharp U-turn.
Now teaching history at UBC
Okanagan, the former long-haul
truck driver and licensed driving
instructor recently examined the
changing traffic death reduction
policies of Australia, Britain,
Canada, New Zealand and the
United States over the past two
centuries. His conclusion: traffic
death reductions in these
countries are a result of safer
roadways and cars — not
improved driving practices.
"I now think all
the resources put into
driver education have
failed," he says. "It's
not working. Actually, a
number of studies show
that drivers with driver
education have higher crash
records than those drivers who
don't have driver training."
Clapton completed a PhD at
the University of Melbourne,
Australia, examining traffic
safety policies in that city.
Today, he is one of perhaps 10
researchers in the world studying
the relatively new field of traffic
safety policy, policing and law
— with expertise in what he
frankly describes as "the inability
of traffic policy to change driver
"During the 20th
century, traffic
crashes have
have fallen since the late
1960s, crash and injury rates
have remained constant in the
countries he studied. Clapton
says it's an indication that,
injured and killed
more people than soldiers killed
in battle — in every motorized
country in the world," Clapton
Although traffic death rates
behaviour hasn't
changed much in recent decades.
"The reduction in traffic
deaths has been a direct result of
improved roads, vehicles, safety
restraints and medical practices,
rather than encouraging safer
driving practices," he says.
Technological innovations
under development or as-
yet only imagined, such as
automated control systems for
cars, could eliminate some
of the complexities that
challenge drivers: judging
distances, navigating the
roadway, tracking other
vehicles, and much more.
Something as simple as
disabling cell phones in cars
could do wonders for driving
safety, he suggests.
"I think the answers lie in
technology," he says, pointing
to railways — tried and true
transportation with a long and
relatively good safety record
— for inspiration. "On a railway,
you are limited by the track
you're on. You only have to
worry about controlling speed
and time."
He cautions that even
technical advancements aren't
always solutions. Take, for
example, back-up alarms that
sound when a vehicle is in
danger of striking an object
behind it. Clapton says drivers
can become reliant on this kind
of device, over time losing their
ability to function safely without
continued on page 9
Why UBC withdrew from
pages io-ii
MACLEAN'S 2     |     UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER    2,    2006
2006     I    3
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A space elevator created by UBC students competed in NASA's 2006
Beam Power Challenge.
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in October 2006. compiled by basil waugh
a space elevator would reduce
the cost of space travel by a
thousand-fold," says UBC team
member Peter MacNeeley. "This
would literally open the gate to
the final frontier."
UBC Profs Disarm North
Korean Nuclear Threat
UBC Profs. Wade Huntley and
Don Baker featured prominently
in Canadian media coverage of
North Korea's recent test of a
nuclear weapon.
In interviews with the
Toronto Star and CTV News
anchor Lloyd Robertson, Wade
Huntley of the Simons Centre
for Disarmament and Non-
Proliferation Research said North
Korea is reacting, in part, to the
Bush administration's handling of
other nuclear countries, such as
"Pakistani President Pervez
Musharraf may not have a great
relationship with the United
States, but he's taken more
seriously by virtue of the fact that
Pakistan is a nuclear power," said
Huntley. "Kim Jong II is looking
at that and saying, 'Okay, we
could do that.'"
Don Baker of UBC's Centre for
Korean Research says Pyongyang
is too impoverished to launch a
conventional attack against its
neighbours, let alone following up
on any nuclear strike.
"Basically, they've got the
bomb to keep themselves from
being attacked from the U.S., not
to attack anyone else," Baker told
the Vancouver Sun and Embassy
magazine. 13
Women's Math Performance
Affected by Theories on Sex
In a study published in
the journal Science, UBC
investigators Ilan Dar-Nimrod
and Steven Heine found women
perform differently on math
tests depending on whether they
believe their math performance
was determined by genetic or
social differences.
The study, wrote the
Associated Press, follows up
on the controversy ignited by
Harvard University president
Lawrence Summers who
suggested last year that innate
gender differences may explain
why fewer women than men
reach top science jobs.
While the UBC researchers'
study does not explore whether
innate differences exist, it does
look at how the perceived source
of stereotypes can influence
women's math performance.
The study was covered in
more than 130 news outlets
around the world including the
Times Online UK, New York
Times, Washington Post and
CBS News.
UBC Students Design Elevator
to the Stars
The U.K.-based magazine
New Scientist, CBC, Global
TV, CTV and most CanWest
newspapers reported on a team
of UBC engineering physics
students preparing for a NASA
competition that challenges
entrepreneurs to build a
functional space elevator — a
vehicle that, instead of rockets,
uses solar power and super-
strong tethers to travel into space.
Awarded most likely to win
in 2006 by judges in last year's
inaugural competition, UBC
Snowstar has been previously
featured in the New York Times
and on CNN. They will compete
with more than 10 international
teams for the US $150,000
grand prize and an opportunity
to revolutionize space elevator
"With no rockets required,
KUDOS: UBC ranked one
of B.C.'s Top 30 Employers
an annual national listing of
which offers professional
The University of British
top employers in Canada. The
coaching services to all
Columbia, the province's
designation was announced
employees, were part of
third largest employer with
Oct. 14 in the Vancouver Sun,
the review that looked at
more than 19,000 faculty and
Vancouver Province and Victoria
issues such as workforce
staff, has been named one of
Times Colonist.
diversity, atmosphere, benefits,
B.C.'s Top 30 Employers by
Features like UBC's award-
professional development and
Mediacorp, the publisher of
winning coaching initiative,
community involvement.
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BIRDS continued from page 1
living in close quarters, the two
groups don't seem to consider
each other mate-worthy. Toews'
mitochondrial DNA
the two
"You might say the serenade is
the deal breaker."
That is not to say the
birds aren't keenly aware of
potential competition in their
an opportunity for scientists to
clarify an ongoing debate about
what characteristics - ecological,
behavioural, or physical
- contribute to a single species
another, it allows us to narrow
down what characteristics lead
to reproductive isolation," says
The next step is to carefully
groups aren t
"So far, the
differences in
song and DNA in Tumbler Ridge
make us think that the eastern
females aren't responding to
western songs, and vice versa,"
says Toews. Only male songbirds
sing, and for two purposes: to
musically mark their territory
and broadcast their availability
to females.
The two types of wren living in Tumbler Ridge are as
different as those from New York and Vancouver — so
much so that the pair are making a case in an upcoming
journal article to classify the two as separate species.
gene pool. In fact, Toews plays
recordings of songs to attract
and catch the territorial males for
measurements and blood samples.
The discovery of a habitat
where "east meets west" presents
diverging into two.
"When we add this to other
observations of species that
have come into contact after
long ages of separation and
how they behave around one
determine if there are any other
traits that might distinguish the
two forms. For example, birds
might be able to recognize subtle
differences in plumage such
as patterns in the ultraviolet
spectrum. For now, however,
Irwin and Toews believe that
songs are the most important
trait preventing interbreeding.
"The discovery is also exciting
because North American birds
are among the most studied
animals, so it is surprising to
find what we thought was one
species is really two," says Irwin.
"It leads us to believe that there
may be many other such 'cryptic'
species out there."
To hear the marked difference
between the eastern and western
wren songs, visit http://www.
West Nile Virus: To Spray or Not to Spray?
When B.C. gets hit with an
outbreak of West Nile Virus
(WNV), pesticide spray programs
will keep us all safe, right?
It may not be quite that
simple, according to Hadi
Dowlatabadi, of UBC's Institute
for Resources, Environment
and Sustainability and the Liu
Institute for Global Issues,
who is principal investigator
in a three-year project to help
develop more systematic public
health responses aimed at
preventing WNV.
"We want to examine this
issue in a comprehensive way, to
understand the real risks of both
the virus and spraying," says
Dowlatabadi, Canada Research
Chair in Integrated-assessment
Modelling and Global Change.
"We want to make sure we're
protecting people who may
be vulnerable to the virus,
and protecting our kids and
the ecosystem from pesticide
A bird-borne infection spread
by mosquitoes, WNV was first
found in North America in
1999. About 80 per cent of those
infected never develop symptoms
of the disease.
When they do appear,
symptoms can range from flulike to fatal. About three per cent
of symptomatic patients develop
meningitis with high fever,
coma, tremors, paralysis and
death. Survivors can be left with
permanent neurological damage.
B.C. is the only temperate
region in North America to
have escaped WNV. But it's
only a matter of time, say the
researchers. In 2005, Canada
had 225 clinical cases of the
illness and 12 deaths reported. In
2006, neighbouring Washington
State had its first cases and Idaho
had approximately 800 cases.
The UBC research team, in
collaboration with the B.C.
Centre for Disease Control
(BCCDC) and public health
Hadi Dowlatabadi is looking at the effectiveness and risks of pesticide spray programs.
authorities in B.C. and
other provinces, will assess
effectiveness of spray campaigns
and examine pesticide risks
to human and environmental
health. The team will also
explore public perception of risk
from the virus, spray campaigns
and personal protection, such as
the mosquito repellant DEET.
Working with colleagues at
Carnegie Mellon University in
the U.S., the team has already
created a model that takes into
account some of the uncertainties
in spraying effectiveness, such
as how spray is applied and gets
dispersed; how pesticides persist
in the environment; and routes
of exposure for humans.
The team has also applied for
funding to survey approximately
5,000 people across four
provinces — B.C., Alberta,
Manitoba and Ontario — to
determine public risk perception
and levels of awareness about
WNV. In addition, researchers
will produce a framework for
making decisions about spraying.
"There have been numerous
spray campaigns undertaken
without knowing the
consequences," says study coordinator Negar Elmieh, UBC
Bridge Program Fellow and
PhD candidate in Resource
Management and Environmental
Studies. "We want to change that
and provide data on both the
risks and benefits of spraying."
The pesticide malathion
is commonly used for WNV
prevention spraying. Licensed for
use since the 1950s, malathion
is also highly toxic to fish and
can last up to 19 days in water.
Although spraying does not
affect healthy adults, it can harm
elderly persons or those with
compromised immune systems.
Because of their size and poor
hygiene habits, children under
the age of six are at risk for
receiving the highest pesticide
Personal precautionary
measures can be an alternative
to spraying. Staying indoors at
dawn and dusk, covering up
and using DEET are ideally
the first line of defense, say the
Health officials expect WNV
to become endemic, or native,
to areas of Canada south of the
54th parallel within five years.
Even so, there is no national
WNV surveillance program and
no centralized data available
to all provincial public health
authorities. Spraying is usually
conducted at the municipa
level. Because spraying is
often an emergency
measure there is
little in the way
of systematic
application, data collection
or analysis. The situation is
compounded by environmental
limitations, such as avoidance
of waterways, making spraying
a patchwork operation, capable
of killing only a fraction of
"We hope our findings can be
used to help design interventions
that are safer and more effective
than those that have been
possible to date," says Elmieh,
who adds that the model they
are developing can be used
to plan any type of pesticide
spraying. "The best outcome is
to use spraying as a last resort."
Research team members are:
co-investigators Ray Copes,
clinical associate professor,
UBC Dept. of Health Care and
Epidemiology, and medical
director for Environmental
Health at BCCDC; Dr. Bonnie
Henry of BCCDC; and Kay
Teschke, UBC professor of
Health Care and Epidemiology
and member of UBC's School of
Occupational and Environmental
Hygiene. Collaborating
on the project is Elizabeth
Casman, research engineer at
Carnegie Mellon University in
The UBC Bridge Program
is a scholarship funding and
research-training program
linking Medicine, Engineering
and Graduate Studies to
develop creative evidence-based
prevention measures for public,
environmental and occupational
health problems.
For more information on the
project, visit www.cher.ubc.ca/
westnile. 13 4     I     UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER
2006     I    5
Conflicted on Immigration: Europe
If the world's migrants were to
gather in one place, they would
form the fifth largest nation on
"One in 35 people is an
international migrant," says
anthropologist Gregory Feldman,
a UBC research associate who
teaches in the departments of
Geography and Anthropology.
Feldman's study, Plans for the
'others': Harmonizing migration
management in Europe, will
probe the contradictory forces
of demographics and politics.
Supported by the Social Services
and Humanities Research
Council of Canada (SSHRC), his
research will be completed by
Feldman is particularly
interested in how this
phenomenon will play out in
Europe, where immigration is an
obvious solution to an aging and
shrinking population. However,
this draws fire from European
neo-nationalist parties — a
strong presence since the 1980s
— which protest immigration
and multiculturalism policies
and are pushing governments to
frame immigration as a national
security issue.
"Europe's current population
of about 800 million will have
dropped by 96 million between
2000 and 2050," says Feldman,
adding that migrant labourers
already make up five to 10 per
cent of the European Union's
Anthropologist Gregory Feldman studies how European Union policy makers are handling the hot-button issue
of migrant workers.
These immigrant workers
come from throughout the
world —Africa, the Middle
East, India and Asia — especially
if the sending country is a
former European colony. In
some cases, East and Central
European citizens account for
much of EU's migration flow.
Last year, for example, Britain
received more than 130,000 new
immigrants and almost 60 per
cent — 73,000 — were Polish.
"This study seeks to
understand the tacit assumptions
about culture, security, and
national identity that constrain
migration policy discussions,"
says Feldman. "I'm hoping these
can be reworked to open up
policy debates to a wider range
of views."
Last month in Lisbon,
Feldman had a chance to
gauge policy views when he
attended the 11th International
Metropolis Conference, a global
research forum on migration
policies that drew more than 900
researchers, activists and public
"The current mood indicates
that EU members want to get
labour into the country, and also
get labour out when they don't
need it," says Feldman.
"The direction that a lot of EU
officials want to go is to facilitate
circular migration," he says,
"which would make it easy for
non-EU migrants to temporarily
work in certain sectors of the
economy, then leave, but have a
clear option to return for work
He reports the top concern
for the European Union (EU)
is security, given the relaxed
internal borders of its 25
member states.
"The EU is trying to slam
25 separate migration policies
into one mega policy. It's really
important in terms of global
governance how they're going to
deal with these tensions."
Current proposals call
for measures such as tighter
surveillance and biometric
data on travel documents and
passports that will in effect make
all immigrants and EU citizens
"transparent" once they're in the
system, says Feldman.
He says the moderate position
among EU officials is to link
immigration policy with humane
foreign aid, thus fostering
greater stability and economic
development within the sending
countries. "There would be a
commitment to helping with
local conflict resolution, for
A strategy that also makes a
great deal of sense, says Feldman,
is helping newcomers integrate
into mainstream European
"That would translate
into less restrictive laws for
gaining permanent residency
and citizenship; financial
assistance to take courses in the
state language; recognition of
professional credentials obtained
overseas; assistance in navigating
state bureaucracies; and schools
with programs that gives special
assistance to immigrant needs."
Feldman convenes UBC's Inter-
Faculty Initiative on Migration
Studies which seeks to better
institutionalize migration studies
at the University. UBC has more
than 40 faculty and 80 graduate
students working on migration
issues, a number comparable
to the size of migration studies
institutes elsewhere in the
world. 13
SSHRC is Canada's federal arms-length
funding agency that promotes and supports
university-based research and training in the
social sciences and humanities.
Remote Community Engages UBC to Tackle Diabetes
study among children and teens
in the 200-resident village, the
first phase of a study that will
grow to include screening in
larger sister communities of
Kitkatla and Port Simpson. A
total of 400 children will be
involved in the study — the first
such investigation among B.C.
Aboriginal communities.
Situated 140 kms. southeast
of Prince Rupert, the tiny
community — part of the
health program and well child
When a child attending a clinic
was diagnosed with T2D, village
leaders requested an education
and screening study.
"The project brings unique
and considerable benefits to
both the communities and to
our pediatric residents," says
Macnab. "It's hugely important
for our future doctors to witness
the health challenges of these
School. "It's especially important
for youth and young parents to
understand how devastating this
disease can be. We can't falter on
what we're trying to achieve here
— we need to keep up with new
information and technologies."
Hill, who has three young
children himself, says it's very
encouraging to see kids that
were at risk becoming more
active, and the community
becoming more educated about
"It's hugely important for our future doctors to witness
the health challenges of these remote communities... "
UBC Pediatric resident Dr. Jacob Rozmus examines a child in a First
Nation's Health Clinic.
It's a heck of a commute.
But the five-member team from
UBC's Dept. of Pediatrics had
no complaints about clambering
aboard a float plane crammed
with equipment to travel 630 km.
to Hartley Bay, a remote First
Nations community on B.C.'s
northwest coast, to participate in
a unique research collaboration.
The September 2006 trip was
UBC's response to a request
from the community for a Type
2 diabetes (T2D) screening
Tsimsian Nation — was in the
news in March 2006 following
the nearby sinking of a B.C.
UBC Pediatrics Prof. Andrew
Macnab and members of
the UBC Pediatric Residency
Program have been working
with the Hartley Bay community
for four years on a variety of
projects. They have developed, in
collaboration with community
members, an immunization
program, a school-based oral
remote communities, but also to
experience that these villages are
highly functioning, with leaders
trying to do their best with the
resources they have available."
Macnab and pediatric
residents conducted diabetes
screening for all 32 Hartley
Bay children. Results showed a
second child had T2D.
"This disease can be fought
with education," says Cam
Hill, a community member
and teacher at the Hartley Bay
diabetes and its impact on native
He says the biggest challenge
of the screening program was
developing trust.
"We didn't want to be guinea
pigs. Seeing familiar faces on a
regular basis helped everyone
feel more comfortable and eager
to do what it takes to make their
community a healthier place."
"We were welcomed to
the community and had the
chance to participate in local
continued on page 6
Asst. Prof. Alfred Hermida pioneered BBC's online news service and is now teaching journalism students how to thrive in the changing media landscape.
Podcast or Perish
Are journalists destined to be
the Walkmans in a world of
shiny new iPods?
In other words, do we still
need reporters to bring us the
news when we can dive daily
into the tsunami of blogs,
podcasts, wikis and chat rooms?
Yes, reporters are still relevant,
says Asst. Prof. Alfred Hermida,
who joined UBC's School of
Journalism this summer from the
"With the rise of the Internet,
the monopoly on information
has disappeared," says Hermida,
"but audiences still need
someone to make sense of
the information and to make
meaning of it.
"The role of journalists has
changed from that of gatekeeper
to authenticator."
In his own 16-year career
with the BBC, Hermida has
ridden the crest of these changes
as a radio, TV and online
journalist covering national and
international stories. Between
1997 and 2006, he pioneered the
award-winning BBCNews.com
website, succeeding where its TV
and radio BBC siblings failed
in attracting and building the
under-24-year-old audience.
"What we're seeing is a
revolutionary change, similar
to when the printing press took
power away from the elite and
transformed European society,"
says Hermida. "Today, the
barriers to enter journalism
are incredibly low. Anyone
can participate if they have the
And those holding the
TV remote or mouse wield
the ultimate power, he says.
"Audiences are promiscuous
with zero loyalty to any one
media brand. There's a universe
of infinite choice where people
can consume what they want,
when they want."
In his course Multiplatform
Journalism, Hermida will
provide Master of Journalism
students the tools to work within
students graduate, employers
will want journalists with online
skills and technical skills," says
Hermida. "They'll have to know
how different platforms interact
with each other and the different
ways to adapt a story for print
versus online."
In Hermida's view, the Internet
allows for rich story telling given
its interactivity and limitless
Hermida says too many news
organizations make the mistake
of going online and simply
running print stories or offering
podcasts of television news. "It's
like the early days of television
when they were still doing radio,
but with pictures."
Much of the BBCNews.com
website success came from being
able to navigate the generational
divide, he says. "My reporters
What we're seeing is a revolutionary change, similar to
when the printing press took power away from the elite
and transformed European society," says Hermida.
a media landscape that includes
platforms as diverse as MP3
players, computers and mobile
phones. Students will learn the
basics of good reporting, while
gaining skills to cross nimbly
from one medium to another.
"In two years
time when
"It's not like television which
is passive and you're sitting back.
With the Internet, it's interactive
and visual and you're controlling
the medium."
He describes a BBC News
website series on urbanization
and population growth that
opened with a map of the world.
"The audience could zoom
in on any geographic
area and get text and
images on the city
size, rate of
were all in their 20s and as news
editor I was in my 30s."
Their tactic was to leverage
the BBC brand, capitalizing on
the venerable institution's core
values of accuracy, fairness
and balance. However, they
consciously designed a news
home page that avoided what
Hermida calls a typical "men
in suits" story line up — heavy
on "war, famine, death and
destruction" stories.
"We were still interested
in providing a credible news
service, but we wanted to see
more light and shade," says
Hermida. "Along with the hard
news, we wanted hard science,
technology and entertainment."
He says for him and others
at BBC's online news service it
boiled down to "trying to be
relevant to people's lives."
For those news organizations
that need to reinvent themselves,
he offers these basic tenets: Know
who your audience is. What
do they want from you? How
can you serve your audience?
How does it help your audience
understand the news?
The days of the media
business model are long gone,
he says, when newspapers and
television news were cash cows,
enjoying profit margins that were
respectively 20-25 per cent and
50-70 per cent.
Instead, news organizations
that hope to survive the digital
revolution need to invest money,
says Hermida. "Using the
medium a lot better requires
investment and willingness to fail,
where initially you may not make
any money." 13
Accommodation for
UBC Visitors
Toint Grey
Quest Mouse 6     |     UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER    2,    2006
UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER    2,    2006     |     7
Alumni Focus:
Goat's the Hero in This Community
UBC alumnus John Agak spearheaded a microfinance project using goats to benefit his home village.
It all started with goats.
In 2004, UBC PhD alumnus
John Agak asked then-president
Martha Piper for forty goats
to help his home community in
Kenya develop a new vision for
self-reliance and sustainability.
Kanyawegi, a small village
in the far west of Kenya and
neighbour to the expansive
Masai Mara game reserve,
is situated in lush tropical
rainforest along the African
equator. Agak grew up in the
village, and was one of a very
few young people from his
poverty-stricken community able
to pursue a university education.
His determination is palpable:
Agak wants to give Kanyawegi
children orphaned by the HIV/
AIDS pandemic the same kind
of educational opportunities he
"The devastation and poverty
that this disease has brought
to this community cannot be
overemphasized," Agak says.
"Kids from poor homes are
bright, concentrate in school and
Quality Canon printing. Excellent service.
Let us take care of all your copying needs.
XGffiztaziM 1
have the willingness and passion
to further their school to the
highest level possible. The only
drawback is the financial support
that they desperately need to
fulfill their dreams."
The vibrant community has
every hope of achieving its goals,
creating sustainable income-
generation projects, leadership
opportunities and jobs to local
people. After receiving a grant
for the goats, Agak donated
the livestock to eight women's
small business groups. His idea:
provide the community with a
means of generating cashflow,
so that they would be able to
pass on any surplus revenues
(or goat offspring) to other
small businesses to create new
opportunities. It's microfinance,
only using goats as currency.
The idea worked. Within a
year, the women's groups were
making a profit and started a
bank account to finance other
projects, like a granary being
built to maximise revenues from
the sales of ample corn crops,
a school reconstruction project
and a clothing manufacturing
business. As Agak notes,
"investing in women makes
a profound difference in the
community," not just for the
women themselves, but for their
children now able to afford to
attend school.
In the spirit of global
citizenship and service
learning, Agak has now opened
Kanyawegi to the world.
Through a partnership with
YouLead, UBC's global service
learning unit, students are able
to visit, learn and assist with
projects in rural Kenya. A new
program beginning this spring
will invite UBC alumni to the
village to share business skills,
agriculture techniques, and input
on education projects with the
Agak's ongoing partnership
with UBC will not end in Kenya.
Goat microfinancing has been
translated into a pig project in
Uganda, and will continue to
inspire new YouLead programs
in Indonesia and Colombia.
John Agak and Kanyawegi
have created a unique legacy
that the university will share
with students and communities
worldwide for years to come.
To learn more, or to explore
a volunteer vacation in Kenya,
contact YouLead at 604 822
6110 or visit youlead.org. 13
Reprinted with permission from Trek
Invoice UBC accounts directly ~ Volume discounts
Free pick-up and delivery service ~ Colour and b/w printing/copying
Spiral/cerlox binding
Lower level of the Student Union Building
copyright@ams.ubc.ca   phone: 822-4388 fax: 822-6093
Peter Wall
Institute for Advanced Studies
Major Thematic Grant
The PeterWall Institute Major Thematic Grant Program awards
$300,000 - $500,000 to interdisciplinary core groups of UBC
Researchers working on important and exciting thematic topics
in areas offering significant advances in knowledge. The project
is expected to include excellent UBC researchers as well as work
with and bring outstanding external experts to the University.
Your proposal should be broadly interdisciplinary, involve basic
research and be innovative. The Letter of Intent deadline for the
next competition is March 1,2007.
For wore information, please visit our website at
www.pwias.ubc.ca or call us at (604) 822-4782.
DIA B ET ES continued from
and cultural events," says
resident Jacob Rozmus. "It's
a very rewarding partnership
that allows us to tackle issues
unique to a remote First Nations
A precursor to the screening
was a collaboratively designed
education project where
community members kept
food diaries, and used that
information in a "Smart Meals"
program to share knowledge
about buying, storing and
cooking nutritious food,
including healthier alternatives
for favourite feast foods.
Ensuring a supply of healthy
food is no small task for Hartley
Bay families, since the nearest
store is in Prince Rupert,
accessible only twice a week via
a 3.5-hour (one-way) ferry trip.
In addition, access to medical
care in remote villages is highly
variable with few child health
Working with remote First
Nations communities on health
issues brings sociological, ethical
and practical challenges, but it
can be done, says Macnab.
"It's quite amazing to have
community-driven research
requests stemming from a
partnership between two very
different cultures," he says.
The next step in the research
involves working with First
Nations shamans in the Nass
Valley in northwestern B.C. to
examine the effectiveness of a
traditional diabetes treatment
that uses a common plant,
Devil's Club. Macnab and
community members will run
a trial to determine the plant's
chemical profile as well as its
medicinal effectiveness compared
to a placebo.
Hartley Bay projects have
recently been expanded to
include UBC Dept. of Family
Practice students, residents, and
faculty. 13
Support for this research has been
provided by the UBC Faculty of Medicine
Special Populations Fund and the Lawson
Devil's Club
(01 September 2005 to 31 August 2006)
Under section 61 of the University Act, the President of the University has authority to
impose discipline on students for academic and non-academic offences (see pages 54
to 57 of the 2005/2006 University Calendar). A summary of such disciplinary cases is
published on a regular basis, without disclosing the names of the students involved.
In the period September 1, 2005 to August 31, 2006, 45 students appeared before
the President's Advisory Committee on Student Discipline (PACSD) and 41 were
subsequently disciplined. For each case, the events leading to the imposition of the
discipline and the discipline imposed are summarized below. Discipline may vary
depending upon the circumstances of a particular case.
1. A student brought unauthorized material (notes) into a final examination.
Discipline: A suspension from the University for 12 months*.
2. A student forged a doctor's note in order to gain further academic concessions.
Discipline: A suspension from the University for 16 months *.
3. A student submitted an assignment that was plagiarized from a student who took
the course previously.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for
12 months*.
4. A student failed to disclose his/her previous attendance at a college when he/she
applied to UBC.
Discipline: A letter of reprimand.
5. A student was alleged to have (i) improperly administered and proctored a
final examination; and (ii) misrepresented him/herself by signing the proctoring
certification as having a doctorate.
Discipline: A letter of reprimand.
6. A student cheated by writing a midterm examination under a false name and then
wrote a very similar midterm examination the next day.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the midterm exam and a suspension from the
University for 6 months *.
7. A student cheated by writing a midterm examination under a false name and then
wrote a very similar midterm examination the next day.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the midterm exam and a suspension from the
University for 6 months *.
8. A student cheated by altering his/her marked midterm examination and submitting
it for re-marking.
Discipline: Due to extenuating circumstances, a mark of zero in the midterm
examination and a suspension from the University for 4 months *.
9. A student cheated by altering his/her marked midterm examination and then resubmitted the exam for re-marking.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for
12 months*.
10. A student cheated during a midterm examination by copying the work of another
Discipline: Due to extenuating circumstances, a mark of zero in the course and a
suspension from the University for 6 months *.
11. A student submitted an assignment that he/she had plagiarized from that of a
student who had taken the course the previous year.
Discipline: A mark of zero on the assignment and a letter of severe reprimand.
12. A student cheated during an exam by bringing in unauthorized material (written
notes) in to the examination room.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
13. A student cheated by bringing in unauthorized material (written notes) into a final
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
14. A student cheated during an exam by bringing in unauthorized material (written
notes) in to the examination room.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 8
months *.
15. A student plagiarized an assignment from Internet sources.
Discipline: Due to extenuating circumstances, a mark of zero in the course and a
letter of reprimand.
16. A student cheated by consulting notes in a washroom during the final examination
of a course.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
17. A student submitted a report that was plagiarized from Internet sources.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 6
months *.
18. A student allegedly committed a number of incidents of academic misconduct in
two courses. In particular, in one course he/she was alleged (i) to have submitted
a final examination with a false name on a paper. In the other course, he/she
(ii) brought in for marking a lab manual with no name; (iii) falsely claimed
he/she had written a midterm examination; (iv) wrote a lab examination final
using a false name and wrote a second final the next day; (v) failed to write the
midterm examination in the lecture portion of the course; (vi) attended the final
examination but did not turn in the paper; and (vii) participated in quizzes after
claiming to have dropped the course in order to assist another student.
Discipline: PACSD found that 5 ofthe 7 incidents constituted academic
misconduct. A mark of zero in both courses and a suspension from the University
for 8 months *.
19. A student cheated during a midterm examination by copying answers from another
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 8
months *.
20. A student cheated on a midterm examination by copying answers from the paper
of another student.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 8
months *.
21. A student cheated on a midterm examination by bringing unauthorized material (a
cheat sheet) in to the room.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for
12 months*.
22. A student cheated during a midterm examination by copying answers from the
paper of another student.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 8
months *.
23. A student cheated on an assignment by copying answers from the work of another
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a letter of reprimand*.
24. A student assisted another student to cheat on an assignment by providing him/her
with an electronic version of his/her work.
Discipline: A letter of reprimand.
25. A student allegedly assisted two students to cheat on a midterm examination.
Outcome: Allegation dismissed.
26. A student cheated on a midterm examination by copying the work of another
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
27. A student cheated on a midterm examination by copying the work of another
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
28. A student cheated on a midterm examination by copying material from the paper
of another student.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
29. A student submitted a report that was plagiarized from Internet and other sources.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *. I     UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER    2,    2006
2006     I     9
30. A student submitted an assignment that he/she had plagiarized from one submitted
by another student in the same course from the previous year.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
31. A student submitted a book review and the first draft of a final research paper
which were plagiarized from published sources.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
32. A student assisted another student to cheat in a lab quiz.
Discipline: A letter of reprimand.
33. A student cheated on a lab quiz by copying material from another student.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for
12 months*.
34. A student falsified that date on a doctor's note in order to gain an academic
accommodation for a final examination.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a letter of reprimand*.
35. A student submitted an assignment which he/she had plagiarized from an
assignment submitted by another student two years earlier.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
36. A student submitted an assignment that was partially plagiarized from an Internet
Discipline: A mark of zero in the assignment and a letter of reprimand.
37. A student cheated on a quiz by copying answers to several questions from another
student sitting next to him/her.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 6
months *.
38. A student allegedly assisted another student to cheat on a quiz by allowing that
other student to copy his/her paper.
Outcome: Allegation dismissed.
39. A student cheated on a final examination by bringing unauthorized material (a
cheat sheet) into the examination.
Discipline: Due to extenuating circumstances, a mark of zero in the course and a
suspension of only 4 months from the University *.
40. A student plagiarized by copying the work of another student and submitting it has
his/her own assignment.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension from the University for 4
months *.
41. A student allegedly assisted another student to plagiarize.
Outcome: Allegation dismissed.
42. A student copied the work of another student during a final examination.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a suspension of only 4 months from
the University*.
43. A student allegedly copied the work of another student during the final
Outcome: Allegation could not be proven. Warning to student.
AA.  A student colluded with another student on an assignment.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a letter of reprimand*.
45.  A student colluded with another student on an assignment.
Discipline: A mark of zero in the course and a letter of reprimand*.
* In all cases indicated by an asterisk, a notation of disciplinary action is entered on
the student's transcript. At any time after two years have elapsed from the date of his
or her graduation the student may apply to the President to exercise his discretion to
remove the notation.
Students under disciplinary suspension from UBC may not take courses at other
institutions for transfer of credit back to UBC.
Stirling House
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Stirling House is the newest addition to Chancellor Place on
the grounds of UBC - and there are few better places to live. It's
not just the views, which are stunning, but it's also that you are
in proximity to world-class schools, restaurants, and shopping.
Stirling House is surrounded by hundreds of hectares of parkland,
and yet is just a few minutes drive to downtown.
2 Bedroom Apartment Homes from $654,900
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1716 Theology Mall (at Chancellor Blvd)
604.228.8100   www.stirlinghouseliving.ca
Open Daily Noon - 5pm (Except Fridays)
Back to the Future:
UBC launches next community planning chapter
Sharp & Thompson's 1914 City Beautiful scheme established the basic structure ofthe UBC Vancouver Campus.
UBC is asking faculty, staff,
students and residents for their
views a new UBC Vancouver
campus plan that will shape
future land-use planning on
UBC's 404-hectare site. This is
the sixth campus-wide planning
exercise in the university's history.
UBC's planning history began
back in 1913 when President
Dr. Frank Wesbrook dreamt of
creating the "Cambridge" of
the Pacific. Wesbrook held an
architectural competition, which
was won handily by architects
Sharp & Thompson with their
City Beautiful vision. Despite
only partial implementation
of this plan — the Main Mall,
University Boulevard, the
East and West Malls, and the
development blocks around the
Library — it established a basic
structure for the university,
which continues to influence
development of the campus.
Following the second World
War, UBC (like all of North
America) went through a
significant expansion. A new
campus plan was proposed
in 1959, which focused on
accomodating rapidly expanding
faculties and our love affair with
the automobile. At the time,
architects were preoccupied with
industrial efficiency reflected
in the utilitarian approach to
era buildings like the Buchanan
Another master plan was
prepared in 1968 focusing
mainly on land-use circluation
and landscape. Its central
theme was UBC as a "great
and varied garden." The partial
implementation of this plan
created patterns of cul-de-sacs.
The the current plan formed in
1992 included a set of strategies
that allow sufficient felxibility to
enable the campus to respond to
its own evolution.
The new campus plan will be
carried out in six phases over 18
months. The campus community
will be asked to consider where
the university should be heading
in terms of the physical identity
of the campus, its public realm,
heritage, urban design, and social
space for students, faculty, staff,
alumni and residents. Visit www.
campusplan.ubc.ca for more
information and to provide
input. 13
DRIVER'S ED continued from page 1
Teaching people to be better drivers is not improving traffic safety,
but better technology may do the trick, says traffic policy and safety
researcher Rick Clapton.
"We can't always predict
how technology will affect
driver behaviour," he says. "A
significant majority of people
derive a sense of power from
driving, and people with air bags
and other safety devices almost
always drive more aggressively
because they feel safer."
Call it human nature. People
don't want to believe how
dangerous driving can be,
Clapton says.
"Most people — most of the
time — will be safe," he says.
"We drive around thinking
we're going to be OK. If you
brought all the traffic accidents
together in one place at one
time, you'd have a national
catastrophe. But we don't see the
impact — they're commonplace
and have become part of what
anthropologists call our 'cultural
A phenomenon called
"optimism bias" places
blinders on drivers, too. "It's
the 'this won't happen to me'
phenomenon," he says. "Trained
drivers have confidence that
they're safe, when they are
actually just as vulnerable as any
other motorist."
Influences such as pop-culture
have produced in drivers' minds
an unrealistic perception of
safety. "We identify with heroes
— we see them on television
doing dangerous and daring
things in their cars and they
never get injured," Clapton says.
While Clapton readily agrees
that wholesale changes in traffic
and vehicle control are a long
way off, he remains adamant
that something must change.
"We're not going to wake
up one day to find all cars
controlled automatically. But
ideally we'd start moving toward
some technology," he says. "I'm
truly convinced that driver
education isn't going to reduce
the road death and injury toll in
any significant way." 13
-ftJJJf    UBC Vancouver Campus Plan N0,  2006/07     \
Issues and Ideas Workshops
Saturday, November 18, 2006
11:00am - 1:00pm
West Atrium, Life Sciences Centre,
2350 Health Sciences Mall
Campus walking tour 1 hour prior to workshop
RSVP: Phone 604-827-3465 or email
UBC Voice your opinion on the future of your campus.
fl www.campusplan.ubc.ca
holding an election for two directors to serve four-
year terms on the Pension Board. Election packages
were sent to members on November 1.
The deadline for casting ballots is November 27. Ifyou have not
yet received your election package, you may contact the Pension
Office at (604) 822-8100. Election results will be announced on
the SPP website: www.pensions.ubc.ca/staff on December 4.
C   a
What is the Lombard program?
The Lombard program is a fee-based brokerage account. While the Lombard accounts
are similar to full-service commission-based accounts in their ability to hold a variety of
investments and their role in facilitating transactions, that's where the similarity ends. With
fee-based brokerage accounts, investors are charged a yearly fee for portfolio construction
advice, investment recommendations, and trade execution. When an investor buys or sells
a security, the trades are commission-free*. You have the peace of mind knowing what your
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Phone: 604.742.2122
Email: sclarke@wellwest.ca
Produced by Wellington West Capital Inc., a member of CIPF
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Email: jclarke@wellwest.ca
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Email: sclarkeC
Produced by Wellington West Capital Inc., a member of CIPF io     I     UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER
UBC    REPORTS     |     NOVEMBER    2,    2006     |     II
your KBC creative resource
Creative Services
photography • medical illustration
video and media production • graphic design
• award-winning images captured in studio
or on location
• featured in UBC Reports, Focus, and more
Medical Illustration
• combining technology, art skills and
detailed knowledge for a variety of
medical disciplines
Video & Media Production
• complete digital video and multimedia
production from concept to completion
Graphic Design
• specializing in design & layout for the
academic, educational & healthcare
Situated on campus at:
The Media Group
Woodward IRC Building, Rm B32
2194 Health Sciences Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3
Lower level of
Woodward IRC
Wesbrook Mall
Health Science
Email: mediagrp@interchange.ubc.ca
T: (604) 822-5561
F: (604) 822-2004
The Student Experience in a Rankings Wrangle
Why not recognize your most inspiring teacher?
The University is again recognising excellence in teaching through the awarding of teaching
prizes to faculty members. Three prize winners from the Faculty of Applied Science will be
selected for 2007.
ELIGIBILITY: Open to full-time tenure-track faculty and sessional lecturers in Architecture,
Engineering or Nursing who have five or more years of teaching experience at UBC and
former recipients after an interval of five years.
CRITERIA:   Sustained teaching accomplishments at all levels at UBC, focusing on faculty
members who have demonstrated that they are able to motivate students and are responsive
to students' intellectual needs, or have developed innovative course materials for laboratory
or classroom delivery.
NOMINATION PROCESS: Students, alumni or faculty members may nominate candidates.
Student nomination letters should include at least five student signatures. Letters of
nomination and supporting documents should be sent directly to:
Dean's Office, Faculty of Applied Science
The University of British Columbia
5000-2332 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4
Attention: Marc Curran
NOMINATION DEADLINE: November 14, 2006
For further information, please contact the Dean's Office, Faculty of Applied Science
Marc Curran, e-mail marc.curran@ubc.ca, telephone: 604-822-6413. Or contact your
Department, School office, or the Killam Teaching Prize Committee Chair
Sherry McKay, smckay@interchange.ubc.ca.
Conferences and Accommodation
at The University of British Columbia
FROM OCT 2006-MAY 2007
Group Sales and Conference Services offices are open for
inquiries. Please contact us at 604-822-1060 or via email:
conferences© housing.ubc.ca
We appreciate your business and continued support.
We look forward to accommodating you next summer!
November is the traditional month of undergraduate student-focused Canadian
university rankings. This year, UBC and 21 other Canadian universities declined to
participate in the Maclean's rankings because of methodological concerns.
At the same time, UBC has made
the National Survey of Student
Engagement (NSSE) results
available on the Web (http://
htm). In 2003, UBC became the
first large Canadian research
university to subscribe to this
US-based survey instrument that
is widely recognized as a valid
and reliable tool for providing
benchmarks for the effectiveness
of undergraduate education.
NSSE results consist of the
summaries of students' responses
to about 90 questions, which
NSSE aggregates into five broad
areas of student engagement,
referred to as "benchmarks":
1 - Level of academic challenge
2 - Active and collaborative
3 - Student-faculty interactions
4 - Enriching educational
5 - Supportive campus
UBC Reports asked Dr.
Anna M. Kindler, Vice Provost
and Associate Vice President,
Academic Affairs to discuss
surveys such as NSSE, and what
UBC is doing with the data.
Why do so many universities
believe that Maclean's rankings
are not a good guide to
the student undergraduate
The universities' decision to
withdraw from participation
in the 2006 Maclean's
questionnaire was motivated by
concerns over the methodology
used in the survey and validity
of some of its measures. The
paramount issue was the
inappropriateness of aggregating
data across a wide range of
programs to arrive at a simple
ranking system. This problem
is of particular concern in the
context of large, comprehensive
universities where the level
of excellence of individual
programs naturally varies
across the board. Averaging the
strength of all programs does
not provide helpful information
to prospective students as it
overstates the quality of some
programs and understates
quality of others.
Concerns were also expressed
about partial accounting and
other methodological flaws
which made it inappropriate
for universities as institutions
dedicated to the highest
standards of scholarship to
continue to contribute to a
process that does not conform to
these standards.
Is it really possible to measure
the student experience through
instruments such as NSSE?
No single measure can fully
account for the quality of
student experience. However,
surveys such as NSSE provide
valuable insights that can
help universities assess and
improve their teaching and
learning environments. In the
case of NSSE, this data focuses
Anna Kindler
on various aspects of student
engagement that have been
identified through research as
important factors leading to
positive learning outcomes.
How should students and their
parents use the NSSE data?
I would suggest that
prospective students or their
parents may wish to look at
particular items or sets of
related items of the survey
that seem most relevant to
their individual learning needs.
In other words, the question
"What really matters to me/my
son or daughter when we think
about quality of a learning
environment?" should be asked
when considering the NSSE data.
This issue of a "personal fit" is
really paramount in deriving
meaningful conclusions based on
surveys such as NSSE.
I would also suggest that
they consider NSSE as only one
piece of information in making
decisions about post-graduate
education. It is important to
remember that NSSE is a survey
of engagement, not outcomes.
Prospective students and their
parents may thus wish to also
look at: data on graduation
rates; graduate and professional
programs admissions;
employment success and income
of graduates; community
involvement; and reports by
alumni reflecting on the value of
their university experience may
provide very useful insights into
the decision-making process.
Does a research-intensive
university like UBC inherently
lessen the student learning
Absolutely not. As exciting
sites of knowledge creation,
research-intensive universities
have a unique potential to offer
learning environments that
are intellectually stimulating,
challenging and engaging. The
presence on campus of world
class researchers in a broad
range of academic disciplines
and interdisciplinary fields
allows universities to design and
implement cutting-edge courses
where the breadth and depth
of curriculum are informed by
both history and innovation. A
research-intensive environment
is also conducive to setting high
standards of scholarship and
building a culture of rigorous
academic discourse across all
The challenge for research-
intensive universities is to
optimize this potential and seek
creative ways of encouraging
and supporting researchers'
active involvement in teaching
— not only through graduate
supervision and mentorship but
through a wider repertoire of
pedagogical engagement. I speak
of this in terms of a challenge,
because traditional teaching and
learning models have often lead
to polarization of teaching and
research priorities of faculty
members and have created
competing time pressures.
Recently, UBC has made this
challenge one of its priorities and
through approaches such as the
Carl Wieman Science Education
Initiative and the recently
announced President's Teaching
and Learning Enhancement
Initiative will be piloting new
models of engaging outstanding
researchers in undergraduate
The NSSE results show that
Canadian universities score
poorly compared to their
US counterparts, and that
in Canada, UBC is slightly
behind Canadian peers. Why
do US universities do such an
apparently better job of student
engagement? And what does
NSSE tell us about UBC?
There are several possible
explanations that may account
for this difference between US
universities and their Canadian
counterparts. The level of
funding for public universities
on each side of the border
suggests a particularly plausible
explanation. Many aspects
of learning environments are
tied to the issue of resources.
Universities ability to hire and
retain outstanding faculty,
upgrade teaching infrastructure,
enhance provision of technology-
based learning environments
that facilitate engagement,
expand repertoire of relevant
student services or build inviting
informal learning spaces are
all a function of the available
resources. According to a recent
report by the Association of
Universities and Colleges of
Canada (AUCC) based on
data from the National Centre
for Educational Statistics in
the US and Statistics Canada,
government funding of
public four-year colleges and
universities increased by 25 per
cent in the US between 1980 and
2004/2005, compared to a 20
per cent reduction in Canada.
Because engagement in
learning is very closely related
to student-faculty interactions,
data on enrollment and faculty
growth in the US and Canada
may further help understand
the NSSE results. Between 1986
and 2003, as reported by AUCC,
the growth of students in the
US has been closely paralleled
by the growth in full-time
faculty, allowing US universities
to maintain relatively low
student/faculty ratios. Over the
same period in Canada we have
experienced a 45 per cent growth
in student numbers with only
about seven per cent growth
in faculty. This uneven growth
could naturally be expected to
negatively impact at least some
aspects of student engagement.
As to the UBC performance
relative to our peers, on most of
the NSSE indicators where UBC
is positioned slightly behind our
counterparts, the differences are
very small when the effect size
in considered
— which
suggests that
large research
face similar
related to
of undergraduate education.
Having said that, we recognize
that there are areas where we
specifically need to focus our
efforts to improve the quality of
student experience and the recent
re-surfacing of undergraduate
teaching and learning as one of
the key priorities for UBC is an
indication that we are serious
about achieving progress on this
What is UBC doing with what it
has learned from the NSSE data?
NSSE data feeds directly into
our SHINE 2010 (Students
Horizons In Education) initiative
which commits the university
to supporting and measuring
the impact of a range of
undertakings specifically aimed
at enhancing the quality of
teaching and learning at UBC.
These initiatives have ranged
from a review of our internal
quality assurance processes
with respect to performance
of academic units; expansion
of professional development
opportunities in teaching for
faculty members and Teaching
Assistants — including a new
Certificate Program for TA's;
support of faculty engagement
in the scholarship of teaching
and learning; to additional
funding directed to efforts which
focus on teaching improvement
— some of which I have already
On the measurement side,
NSSE is one of the instruments
of assessment that we have
selected to use for our internal
benchmarking and to allow
us to tune our initiatives to
yield optimal outcomes. We
have also struck a joint Senate
committee, involving student
participation to enhance the
process of gathering and
analyzing student evaluations
of teaching so that this data, in
combination with NSSE and
other forms of assessment, can
be more effectively used to guide
While SHINE 2010 is a
university-wide effort, there
are numerous new initiatives
recently championed by Faculties
to enhance undergraduate
education. For example, the
Faculty of Arts, has engaged
in an extensive undergraduate
curriculum re-visioning process
which has already resulted in
significant enhancements of the
first-year experience for students
enrolled in the Coordinated Arts
Program. In partnership with
the Arts student government, the
faculty has also implemented
several projects to help build a
sense of community in this very
large, diverse unit, including
the ArtsPeak events for the
graduating class.
The Faculties of Science,
Arts and the Sauder School of
Business have embarked on new
forms of collaboration to expand
the repertoire of available
courses and majors/minors.
The Faculty of Forestry has
of effective
skills into all of
its programs.
The Faculty
of Land and
Food Systems
has developed
a Career
Ambassador Program in
collaboration with UBC's Career
Services Office and enhanced
its tri-mentoring program that
prepares students for "real-
world" careers.
While none of these initiatives
has been directly prompted by
NSSE, the NSSE data, along
with other measures, has
helped to focus and fine tune
these undertakings, and, very
importantly, will continue to
help us assess their impact over
Our interest in NSSE has been
focused on how the information
that it offers can contribute
to making UBC learning
environments as effective and
responsive to the needs of our
students as they can be. We have
recently engaged with the Deans
in considering additional ways
of using the NSSE data in the
context of specific priorities of
individual faculties and the UBC
Trek 2010 goals. 0
NSSE Director on Maclean
's Rankings
The following letter was printed July zj, 2006, in the University of Calgary's
student newspaper The Gauntlet.
It is re-printed with permission of Prof. George
1 am dismayed that Maclean's used
meaningful educational experiences
Public disclosure is good, and we
a few results from the National
for their students.
need more of it. Indeed, NSSE
Survey of Student Engagement
strongly encourages individual
(NSSE) in its [Spring 2006] rankings
Rankings may sell magazines but
institutions to make available their
of Canadian universities. NSSE
they do little to help the public
student engagement results so that
always eschewed this idea, posting
understand what makes for a high-
over time prospective students
the reasons why on its website
quality undergraduate experience.
and others will become better
Rankings also have the potential
informed about what to look for
cfm). Rankings are inherently
to discourage universities from
when choosing a university and
flawed because they reduce
serious efforts to discover what their
the kinds of educational activities
complex dimensions of university
students are doing and learning,
that matter to their learning. But
life to a single number. Ranking
and then using this information to
estimates of university quality must
Canadian institutions is especially
improve. By forcing universities to
be based on more information than
problematic because they have
release their student engagement
rankings based primarily on student
different missions, offer different
results before institutions have had
satisfaction indicators.
majors, and enroll different mixes
a fair opportunity to understand
of younger and older full-time and
and use the data to get better may
George D. Kuh,
part-time students and transfers.
mean some schools will forgo using
Chancellor's Professor and
These many other features affect
NSSE or other assessment tools in
student engagement and make it
the future. That outcome would be
National Survey of Student
possible for institutions to offer
an ironic tragedy, contrary to the
different, yet rich, nuanced and
public interest.
Indiana University, Bloomington
i3id$C (feita Mdop
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