2018 Recipient

2018 TAGSA Award Recipient

Michelle Ogrodnik

The Teaching Assistant Graduate Student Advancement (TAGSA) Executive Committee is pleased to announce the 2018 recipient of the TAGSA Award for Best Conference Session Led by a Graduate Student: Michelle Ogrodnik, a Masters student in Kinesiology at the time of the conference from McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario (she has since started her PhD at McMaster). Michelle’s Masters research focused on the relationship between exercise and learning utilizing the facilities of the NeuroFit Lab at McMaster and Western’s WEBB Lab to conduct her work. At the recent STLHE conference in Sherbrooke, Michelle presented the session titled, “The era of screens, sitting, and studying: Harnessing the benefits of exercise to promote learning in higher education.” (please see the full abstract below).

Michelle will continue her pursuit of understanding the relationship between learning and exercise this fall as she begins her PhD. She will be working in the same labs that allow her to combine the fields of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, Kinesiology, and Education to better understand ways that teaching can be optimized to improve student satisfaction and learning outcomes. In addition to her research, Michelle works as a Student Educational Developer at McMaster’s MacPherson Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning where she has an opportunity to further explore her passions of teaching and knowledge translation. You can read more about the presentation, the roots of the research project, and Michelle’s personal reflection posted as a blog on the TAGSA website.

The award recipient was announced at the closing of the STLHE conference. The award which is sponsored by the STLHE and the conference organizers at Bishop’s University, Université de Sherbrooke, Champlain College – Lennoxville, and CEGEP de Sherbrooke includes a certificate, reimbursement of all conference registration fees, acknowledgement on the STLHE website and in the STLHE newsletter, a one-year complimentary membership to TAGSA, and a one-year complimentary membership to STLHE to recognize the contribution Michelle has made to teaching and learning in post-secondary education. Congratulations!

Thank you to STLHE and this year’s conference organizers, Bishop’s University, Université de Sherbrooke, Champlain College – Lennoxville, and CEGEP de Sherbrooke, for their generous support of TAGSA and this award!


Presentation Abstract:

In the digital era of fast-paced and easily accessible information, institutions are under increasing societal pressures to produce academically successful citizens. Critically, this targeted focus on scholastic activities has led to a drastic reduction in time available for physical activity. However, this may be counterproductive. Aligning with the theme of the conference, Adapting Practice to Evolving Cultures, this presentation will convey the important and often undervalued role that exercise can play in higher education. The presentation will summarize the current literature around exercise, memory, and learning as well as highlight our current research on the use of incorporating exercise breaks into university lectures. A recent study from our lab showed that incorporating five minute high-intensity exercise breaks into a fifty minute online university lecture significantly improved attention and comprehension for the lecture material compared to taking computer game breaks or no breaks. In the digital era, learning is often directly tied to technology. However, this preliminary study suggests that taking a ‘break’ on your device without being removed from a digital context may not be the optimal learning strategy; there seems to be something inherently special about physical movement that can boost academic success. Our lab is currently investigating questions around the optimal intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise breaks for university settings in hopes to develop prescriptive exercise break guidelines for educators. This presentation will center around discussions on recent research on exercise and learning while incorporating audience feedback about experiences with exercise in higher education. Understanding the influence of exercise on our students in the digital era will improve overall student well being: physical health, mental health, and academic success.