May 13, 2004

Document Tools

Print This Article

E-mail This Page

Font Size
S      M      L      XL

Related Stories

SFU Staff mobility initiative

Dal Sohal and Jill Jodrey are the first participants in SFU's new staff mobility initiative, which supports staff exchanges or attachments to partner universities around the world.
The short-term placements range from four to six weeks and are of particular interest to mid-level managers and those involved in programming and services for students. Randall Martin, SFU's international director, hopes the program will grow to 10 placements each year. For more information about the program, contact SFU International at 604.291.4232.

Lessons learned down under

By Jill Jodrey

The SFU staff mobility initiative was an incredible opportunity to spend
three weeks at Monash University in Melbourne. there, I examined approaches to support faculty in teaching and learning with technology and in teaching international students and those with non-English speaking backgrounds.

On March 4, I left my home in the Lower Mainland with a large suitcase and a bandaid on my thumb from trying to disassemble and pack my bicycle. The travel time from Vancouver to Melbourne, Australia was a daunting 18 hours across five time zones, but at least I had an Australian summer to look forward to on my arrival.

I arrived in Melbourne the morning of March 6 with the weekend to recover from jet lag (I would need it) and explore the city. Not wanting to injure my other thumb putting my bicycle back together, I took it to a bike shop nearby and was happily surprised to find out that it was owned by a Canadian. My second surprise followed the next week when I met his partner at a Monash workshop. Armed with maps of the area, I set out on the wrong side of the road to explore the city and was pleased with what I discovered.

Monday morning crept up and I set out quite early on my bicycle to get to the Clayton campus. The centre that I was visiting, the higher education development unit (HEDU) is part of a larger unit, the centre for teaching and learning support (CeTLS), and is located on the northeast corner of the campus. Other units in CeTLS include a multimedia development unit, an educational design unit, an audiovisual production unit and a student support unit. Except for the student support unit, the centre and SFU's learning and instructional development centre (LIDC) are organized similarly.

Valerie Clifford, the head of the unit, met me and introduced me to the various people working in the unit. The first difference I noticed was that those people whose positions were similar to mine had more concentrated responsibilities. For example, there was one person who was entirely devoted to coordinating and leading teaching with technology training for the university. Another was responsible for coordinating and facilitating workshops and programs on classroom-based teaching. In my position, I facilitate workshops in classroom-based teaching and teaching with technology.

However, with more than 49,500 students, eight campuses, and two centres across five countries, CeLTS supports a greater number of teaching staff at approximately 2,400 compared to approximately 834 faculty members at SFU.

During my three weeks at the campus, I attended more than 10 workshops, met with numerous staff members, and visited a few departments. In attending the workshops with faculty members, I was also able to obtain a good understanding of their needs and concerns. At the end of February, I returned to Vancouver inspired by what I had learned and armed with some ideas for new workshops to support teaching and learning at SFU. In addition, I will be co-presenting a workshop with a colleague from Monash at the International Consortium for Educational Development (ICED) conference in Ottawa in June on the topic of faculty support initiatives.

Jill Jodrey is an instructional developer, teaching enhancement services with the learning and instructional development centre.

Healthy practices in the desert

By Dal Sohal

When I heard about the opportunity for staff to visit a foreign university
to learn about innovations in programming and bring back ideas to SFU, I was immediately interested. I have a passion for travel and new adventure, so coming up with a plan to combine that with work was an opportunity I couldn't let pass.

As the health outreach coordinator at the health, counselling and career centre, I was particularly interested in finding an institution that would provide me with new and innovative ideas in health promotion and student leadership.

My search focused on U.S. universities as many have made huge advances in health promotion, particularly in the area of social norms marketing.

The University of Arizona in Tucson has received notable awards and recognition for effective health promotion strategies. It has used social norms marketing to successfully decrease heavy drinking rates, tobacco use and promote sexual responsibility and physical fitness. So, off to the University of Arizona I went. Social norms marketing uses a media campaign to publicize campus data about the healthy behaviours practiced by the majority of students.

The opportunity to visit the university couldn't have come at a better time. In the spring of 2003, SFU was selected by the Canadian centre for social norms research as one of 10 Canadian universities to participate in a four-year social norms marketing pilot project to examine the actual and perceived drinking habits of SFU students.

As part of this project, a large-scale marketing campaign promoting healthy behaviours will take place on our campus, primarily in the form of posters showcasing student life, attitudes and actual norms around drinking.

Upon arriving for my three-week stay at the end of January, I was struck by beauty of the University of Arizona campus. Palm trees wave in the sun and orange and lemon trees line the grounds. The level of school pride is visible through the enormous amount of support for the athletic teams and students everywhere wearing university attire.

The student population is physically active. The recreation centre is the second most student-frequented building after the library and the sheer size of the campus spread out on almost 400 acres of land has students cycling and walking to get from building to building.

My mission was to observe effective practices used in health promotion and bring back ideas to assist with our efforts in social norms marketing. To better understand the student culture and the implementation of health promotion strategies, I scheduled meetings with staff and students from various areas of health services and student life including health promotion and preventive services, counselling services, campus recreation, residence, sororities and student involvement and leadership.

I was impressed by many of the programs, services and facilities at the university. The student union memorial building is the largest student-centred facility in the U. S. It is located in the centre of campus and is the hub of student activity, housing a massive food court, speciality restaurants, theatre, grand ballroom, the university bookstore, career services and a range of student organizations.

The centre for student involvement and leadership also left me in awe and feeling inspired. It offers a range of opportunities for students to engage in leadership, service and personal development. Students can earn a co-curricular transcript which documents their involvement in university leadership and take leadership courses for credit.

For the determined student, there is also an intense four-year leadership program that utilizes practical experience and coursework to help participants maximize their personal growth.

I found people at the university to be very warm and receptive. Many were curious about my visit, intrigued by why I chose their university and applauded SFU's initiative which encouraged staff to travel internationally to learn from other post-secondary institutions.

The overall experience has motivated and excited me about the future of health promotion and student leadership at SFU. There's something to be said for gaining first-hand exposure to add substance and value to your work. I feel very privileged to have participated in this new initiative and thank SFU International for the opportunity.

Dal Sohal is health outreach coordinator in the health, counselling and career centre.

Search SFU News Online