2014 3MNSF Project – Student voices

3MNSF_UAfeature_250 The 3MNSF 2014 cohort chose, as their capstone project, to write a series to start a discussion on “the importance of adapting postsecondary [education] to the needs of learners in the 21st century.” University Affairs was delighted to be asked by these student leaders to act as the forum to present their views to the broader postsecondary community.The student fellows are writing about classroom teaching, their academic programs and the values that undergird the postsecondary system in Canada.

Student Voices

An anonymous letter to Professor Godfrey: Alex Harding – Dalhousie University, February 4, 2015.
Balancing content with context: Heather Carroll – Memorial University, February 11, 2015.
An inside look at the 21st century student: Shwetha Chandrashekar – University of Guelph, February 17, 2015.
A case for undergraduate ‘rights of passage’:Tye Landels – University of Victoria, February 24, 2015.
Let’s keep things in perspective: David Kim – University of British Columbia, March 3, 2015.
The Power of precedents: Ifeoluwatari Ajadi – Quest University, March 12, 2015.
A classroom called life: Peter Liu – University of Calgary, March 17, 2015.
Learning by Exploring the Unknown: Yuhao (Danny) Huang – University of Alberta, March 25, 2015.
How to make campus environments more inviting to students: Shannon McAvoy – University of Saskatchewan, April 1 2015.
The new century requires us to embrace the unconventional: Jaxson Khan – Huron University College, April 8, 2015

 

The Sisters of Mercy taught generations of youth in Newfoundland. When I was a student under their austere gazes, I was not grateful for the severe discipline and comprehensive curriculum. Now, with the hindsight of several decades, I am grateful for many of the lessons that have endured. One of these is my continued understanding and application of Latin. The phrase that comes to mind as I consider the Student Voices articles of the 2014 3M National Student Fellows is ‘Spectamur Agendo’…. Let us be judged by our actions. These students have provided educational leadership through their writing and they have given us much to think about.

The 3MNSF 2014 cohort chose, as their capstone project, to write a series to start a discussion on “the importance of adapting postsecondary [education] to the needs of learners in the 21st century.” University Affairs was delighted to be asked by these student leaders to act as the forum to present their views to the broader postsecondary community. The student fellows are writing about classroom teaching, their academic programs and the values that undergird the postsecondary system in Canada. These thoughtful and incisive opinion pieces have now been presented, and the topics run the gamut from an open letter to a professor, to the necessity of experiential and practical experiences, to expanding the repertoire of learning materials, taking responsibility for the depth of one’s education and learning, and examining the reproduction of habits of inequity. These essays are not a litany of ‘musts and shoulds’. They are, in every sense, what I would be proud to call ‘expressive activism’. They speak from the perspectives of undergraduate insiders and they tell us what we need to hear if we are to reach the hearts and intellects of the next generation of learners. They understand what is at stake, and they want us to work with them as teachers, learners and citizens of a complex world. I recommend these essays to any academic who is ready to work with attentive wonder and, maybe, a dash of irreverence.

Maureen Connolly
3M National Student Fellowship Award Coordinator

One of the great strengths of the STLHE is our collective capacity to adapt to change by learning from each other. These articles by 10 of our student colleagues are a perfect example. They represent, first of all, the wisdom of our leaders about 15 year ago who saw the obvious need to expand our definition of the Society to include students, as both fellow-teachers and fellow-learners. They also represent the wisdom of a recent Board of Directors in working with 3M Canada to expand our awards program to include National Student Fellowships. And finally, as you’ll see from reading these essays, they represent the value of attending to our future leaders. Here we find recipes for change and adaptation from the “bleeding edge” of undergraduate experience in what Peter Liu calls “the classroom called life.” This is a classroom that—by comparison with its current configuration in PSE—calls out to be recharged with relatable human values, while facing honestly its hidden political values; it asks to be physically rebuilt to foster interactivity and more opportunities for experiential learning; it seeks to balance the rich, interdisciplinary reach of the liberal arts with a capacity for “hands-on” research; and it longs to be a space in which both students and instructors are inspired to go beyond the curriculum in search of authentic, collaborative learning for life. Reading these articles, I guarantee you will be as grateful as I am for all those who have made it possible for us to learn from them here—and to begin the task (once again) of re-creating the 21st-century classroom.

Robert Lapp
President, Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.