As a passionate science educator, I want to help students to be more successful in the “real world” and to help universities to more effectively support student outcomes.
There is a well documented skills gap between what students learn in higher education institutions, and the skills needed in the workforce today, and (even more so) for the ever-changing jobs landscape of the future. And as funding for post secondary institutions is increasingly being threatened with more and deeper cuts, universities need to prove that they can prepare students for success in any field.
Instead of top-down approaches like Performance Based Funding Models that governments use to tighten the budgets of universities (which have been shown to have very few positive outcomes for students, and many negative outcomes; especially when it comes to equity issues), universities should instead demonstrate their value for student outcomes through ensuring they have a robust skills-focused curriculum. While universities already excel at developing discipline-specific skills in their students (think lab skills in a chemistry program, or artistic skills in a visual art program), the skills gap is primarily in transferable skills – those skills that are needed for all fields. So we need to explore curriculum changes in order to increase access to those valuable transferable skills for all students.
I will be investigating the role of curriculum change in addressing this skills gap in two ways:
- If the goal is to change curriculum, we must first understand how it is developed. I will investigate how university instructors across Canada develop and update their course curricula, including the tools they use and what impacts their approaches.
- I will investigate a specific innovative course design here at the University of Guelph, which is skills-focused, uses a non-disciplinary structure and is built around a real-world problem that is brought forward by a community partner; to determine if this model is more effective than traditional content-focused courses in developing these transferable skills.
During my BSc/BEd degree program at the University of Lethbridge, I participated in multiple research projects as an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award holder, and through taking Applied and Independent Study courses.
Most of my research experience (and where I was able to carry out my own projects) was in biology; working multiple summers & additional semesters with Dr. Andy Hurly on foraging behaviour in rufous hummingbirds (behavioural ecology), and one summer with Dr. Theresa Burg on mountain chickadee sub-speciation after the last ice age (molecular ecology).
I also helped collect data for a psychology project on the link between risk taking and inequality in Dr. Martin Lalumiere’s lab, and worked on data coding for a developmental psychology project on language acquisition in mandarin-speaking children for Dr. Fangfang Li.
Posters, Publications and Presentations
Mishra, C. E. B., Bailey, I. E., Healy, S., and Hurly, T. A. (2012, June). Systematic Spatial Foraging Preferences in Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus). Poster presentation at the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science conference, at Queen’s University.
Mishra, C. E. B., Bailey, I. E., Healy, S., and Hurly, T. A. (2012, May). Systematic Spatial Foraging Preferences in Rufous Hummingbirds. Poster presentation at the Ontario Ecology, Ethology and Evolution Colloquium, at McMaster University.
*Michell, C. E. B., and Hurly, T. A. (2008, February). Risk Preference in Rufous Hummingbirds in a Binary Comparison. Poster presentation at the Prairie University Biology Symposium, at the University of Lethbridge.
*Note this presentation was done before I changed my name