Kara Loy is Associate Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, British Columbia (BC) and a current Councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR),
undergraduate research programs division. Prior to joining TRU she worked at the University of Saskatchewan, most recently as the Coordinator of the Undergraduate Research Initiative, and previously as Campus Consultant for
English for Academic Purposes (EAP). As an advocate for finding more joy, fun and connection in our experiences of academia, she is a proponent of international and intercultural collaborative teaching and scholarship in
digital spaces. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary in the area of Educational Leadership. In this research she is looking into how professors are leading
change in Canadian higher education through professional practices and networks relating to their research, teaching and service. Her primary delight in serving as a post-secondary administrator is in supporting transformative
experiences for students, faculty and staff. Ideally, these experiences reflect valuing students as partners, building students’ professional skills through experiential learning, and leading innovative and reflective practices.
You can follow Kara Loy on twitter @kllever1.
Closing Keynote Presentation: Harvesting SOTL from the Fields
From recent work at two distinct universities in Western Canada, I am concerned with how to effectively cultivate a culture of excellence in teaching and learning and discovery. In this address, I will share how a collaborative pedagogy of
discovery invigorated first-year students, graduate student research coaches, and faculty as essential and reciprocal partners in learning, research, and scholarship. The benefits reaped are based on cooperative learning, increasing students’
skills, autonomy, willingness to fail and rebound, and a focus on having fun. As an administrator carrying out combined research, teaching & learning, and student engagement aims, I reflect on the journey taken alongside students, staff, and
faculty colleagues as we raised a culture of undergraduate research as a teaching approach across the first five years of the FYRE (first-year research experience) initiative at a research-oriented university in the Canadian prairies. From
this yield, I will share stories, using evidence and anecdotes, that have sown the seeds of discovery in students from the outset of their degree studies. When we start with professors willing to do blue-sky planning centered around offering
students mentored yet self-directed research opportunities, we cultivate students’ scholarly and professional skills in ways that harness their appetite for discovery and knowledge building. The experience has also enhanced upper-level
undergraduate and graduate students’ proficiency with providing facilitation, mentorship and formative feedback. In addition, the process of innovating teaching and learning practices has also dependably inspired professors to wade more
confidently into the field of SoTL. I will uncover what challenges persist in the planning and execution stages, but mainly I will foreground how this is a deeply rewarding approach for most participants. Notably, this address will explore
this question and potentiality: What can be gleaned from coordinated efforts to plant 2800 annual undergraduate research and inquiry experiences in existing classes? What of this approach might yield something of value for you and your institution?