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Arts Student Shadowing Pilot Project

Arts Student Shadowing Pilot

Arts Student Shadowing Pilot

During the high school Spring Break period, Arts (in collaboration with the Welcome Centre) introduced a Student Shadowing initiative. The feedback gathered below—from visiting students, the TRU Student volunteers, TRU faculty and staff—indicates excellent support for the initiative and argues for its gradual integration into Arts’ array of student engagement strategies.

Student Comments Recorded:

  • “It was nice to see the actual size of a TRU class”
  • “Nice to see different teaching methods from high school: we played Jeopardy”
  • “It was a totally different experience than high school”
  • “I learned how to take notes at a university level, which was cool”
  • “The teacher  was really interesting and made the class fun!”

From Kimberly King, TRU Liaison Information Officer:

  • “We had high school students attend every class, except the Art History class on Tuesday.  And most of them had seen it advertised on the website and contacted me directly to sign up for the class.”

From the Student Leaders (verbatim):

  • “I thought the Shadowing Experience was a great opportunity for the student. Our meeting went smoothly, my professor welcomed her to the class, and she was paying attention and seemed excited about the content being discussed. I asked her to underline words or write down any questions she had that I could answer during the break, and it was nice for me to summarize things in simple terms that the student understood (for example, empirical data; “ubiquitous”; the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods). She seemed interested about the in-class techniques used, like getting into groups to discuss things and the way the teacher asked thought-provoking questions.  I took the student around campus afterwards, and showed her a library research database, the top floor of the international building, and the culinary arts centre. She said she hadn’t had a tour before so that may be something i would recommend for the future. She seemed really appreciative of my time, and the opportunity. I hope I helped to inspire a future TRU student!”
  • The shadowing was really great. I had two students (one of them for two classes). It was really nice to be able to show them around and they seemed to appreciate being able to ask questions, and I felt like by seeing an actual class they left feeling like university wasn’t as hard and intimidating as they thought. I would do it again anytime!! Also the other students in my classes seemed to like it too!!
  • The student I brought to my class was very open minded. He had told me that even though he attended Arts classes during this initiative, he was good at science and wanted to pursue that. I am hoping my background in both Chemistry and Philosophy inspired him to not close his options. It was a good experience, although as an improvement, meeting with everyone after and chatting would have been fun and possibly illuminating.

From the Participating Faculty (verbatim):

  • Very good and worthwhile experience for the high school student—and for my students as well. The presence of the visiting student added interest to our discussions.
  • I believe the Arts Shadowing Initiative to be a fantastic idea. I firmly endorse the initiative, and will warmly welcome any students sent to any of my classes.  In terms of content, I fear my feedback will be fairly brief: The students participated in Radical Translation in the grove of the campus commons, where students were to derive translation manuals from other students’ “private languages.” After developing a lexicon and a grammar for other students’ invented private languages, we re-convened in the classroom to discus language and meaning (including meaning skepticism, and indeterminacy of translation). Both Shadowees and Shadowers appeared to find being field linguists inspiring, and the Shadower actively contributed (in particular) to the field exercise. The later discussion, centered as it was on whether our words mean anything, even to ourselves, with a focus on Merlau-Ponty’s embodied linguistic agency and Derrida’s critique of the privilege of semantics over syntax in language, certainly gave the Shadower a very good idea of the difference between high school and an upper level Philosophy class! Despite the fact that the level of discussion must certainly have transcended the Shadower’s ability to fully understand, the exercise served as a way of anchoring the discussion. Further, the Shadowees as well as other members of the class did a remarkable job welcoming the Shadower and asking questions that would relate the material to topics that the Shadower would be able to understand. This, in turn, made the discussion period very fruitful, as other students in the class took responsibility for ensuring that the high school student did not feel alienated by the material.  Ah. I fear that this was not as brief as I thought.
  • It was a pleasure to have the two high school students observe my lecture on the economics of climate change. All of my students made the two students feel they were part of the class. Overall a wonderful experience for the high school students and for us. This is a great initiative and it would be my pleasure to have high school students sitting in my course anytime.
  • I was very happy to help with the shadowing initiative two weeks ago. I hope that the student did indeed find the seminar she sat in on a useful window into what upper year University classes can be like.
  • I think the program is an excellent idea, and I think it should, absolutely, become a regular, mainstream program in the future. My suggestion would be to give the instructors a bit more time to plan around it and to figure out which class would serve the objective the best, and which is most suitable. It is my opinion that the class my high school student came to was not necessarily the most appropriate one for her to attend. I feel it would be better for these students to attend lower year classes. If we are thinking about preparing these students for the transition from high school to university, it seems to make more sense to me to introduce them to lower year classes that are a bit closer to their current academic level. It should have been a fairly big jump for a grade 11 to be thrown into a fourth year seminar class, where, firstly, I have the students leading discussion by doing presentations and running an activity. Secondly, my expectations for my upper-year seminars are that my students be prepared and able to discuss the readings in a deep, sophisticated and meaningful way. They should be ready for this by this level, and we do a lot of work on perfecting that skill in my class(es). Of course I expect my second-year class to be able to critically analyze the source material as profoundly as they can as well, but as we all know, they are still gaining the experience they need to be able to do it effectively. I feel that the discussion would have been easier for a high school student to follow and to integrate his or herself into the conversation at a second-year level, rather than a fourth year class. As it happens, this particular 400 level class I have is not very strong, so the gulf was not really that obvious this time around. But it probably should have been more difficult than it was. In future 3rd or 4th year classes, it might well be. The other thing I would suggest is that we have a way of making contact with the students ahead of time to give them some context to the course and the week’s themes, and even give them an opportunity to do the readings for the class so that they don’t feel totally lost. I think it is a bit odd to have them come into a seminar without having had any access to the material, and simply sit in on a discussion about things they know nothing about. Better to give them the opportunity to prepare — should they want to, that is. In that way, they will feel less like an interloper. If indeed any did. I am, perhaps, making a grand assumption there. But better safe than sorry on that score, I feel. I think the program is an excellent one, and I would happily take on more high school students in the future. I think it is a brilliant idea to have outreach like this with the high schools. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do to help.
  • I think that it is an excellent initiative. It is a big jump and some exposure to university can only be a good thing. I am probably thinking too much, but a couple of ideas. It might be very interesting for students to be able to attend classes in subjects that they do not have in high school. … Under this approach a student might come two ore three times to campus and attend from a different area say arts, science and tourism. Those are my thoughts. In any case I think that it is a very innovative, positive initiative.
  • The student shadowing worked well. The student was able to experience an upper level university seminar.  Fortunately, there were some productive discussions in the seminar and most students participated.  So I think the visiting student was able to witness something worthwhile and interesting.  Ideally the student would experience other delivery modes as well (for example, the first year lecture). I’m sure student shadowing at TRU will be part of a larger introduction to the university experience.  In my view, such an introduction would provide students with a sense of the opportunities and the responsibilities (or challenges) of life as a university student (even basic information like expected hours of study outside the classroom per hour spent in the classroom would be helpful).springbreak15131

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