March 13, 2019Print | PDF
Students in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Social Determinants of Health and the Sociology of Medicine courses will have their creative course assignments on public display in the Teaching and Learning Commons March 19, 26 and April 3.
The Waterloo campus displays are taking place thanks to a partnership between course instructors Kimberley Ellis-Hale and Laurie Jacklin, and writing consultants from Laurier’s Teaching and Learning department. The courses have Laurier undergraduate students writing opinion editorials (op-eds) for media outlets and creating academic research posters for their final course projects.
Past projects have ended up in museum displays and in major newspapers.
The spring events will follow the success of sociology and health sciences students in the Aging in Social Context and the Sociology of Health and Illness courses offered in the fall-term. The students presented their op-eds, infographics and research posters at December events, attracting more than 100 friends, family and community members.
“These projects often take on a life beyond classroom as students find many uses for their research posters when they apply for internships, future courses, graduate studies, and post-graduate schools,” says Laurie Jacklin, an instructor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Department of Health Sciences. “Students really rise to the occasion.”
The creative op-ed and research poster assignments not only encourage critical thinking and help tie students’ personal passions with course concepts, they also offer students purposeful learning opportunities to engage with peers and the community.
“It’s rare that students get a chance to see their peers’ work up close,” says Ellis-Hale, an instructor in the Department of Sociology who teaches the classes. “If this project were an essay, it would stay between me as the instructor and the individual student.”
Students in Ellis-Hale’s Sociology of Health and Medicine class enjoy regular guest lectures to supplement textbook learning. Last term, Ellis-Hale brought in seven guest lecturers, who touched on subjects including safe injection sites, changes in provincial health education and female reproductive rights.
Student Melanie McArdle was inspired by a visiting lecturer from Kitchener’s SHORE Centre, which provides sexual health information and support to community members. McArdle chose to make barriers to girls’ access to menstrual products the focus of her op-ed and infographic assignment.
“It’s a topic that makes people a little uncomfortable at first,” says McArdle. “When my dad came to the showcase, I asked him ‘What if I missed out on opportunities because I didn’t have access to these products?’ It was the first time he had to think about this issue.”
McArdle recently learned that her work would be featured as part of an exhibit at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener. McArdle and classmate Navnit Bahugun were asked if their infographics and op-eds could be included in the resource section of an exhibit called FLOW | The Menstruation Exhibition. Running from March 6 until May 28, the exhibit is dedicated to discovering, discussing and destigmatizing menstruation.
“I never would have expected to be featured in a gallery,” says McArdle. “But now that I’m more aware of the issue I really think that others should be, too.”
Classmate Eve Smerchinski’s op-ed advocating for the use of anatomically correct language in teaching children about body parts was published in a February edition of the Toronto Star.
Community members, students, staff and faculty are invited to attend the upcoming events:
The Teaching and Learning Commons is located on the second-floor of the Frank C. Peters Building at Laurier’s Waterloo campus.
Read Laurier writing consultant James Southworth’s 2018 op-ed 'The value of the op-ed as a writing assignment' published in University Affairs.
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