Graduate Convocation Medal Award Winners

June 10, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Shiva Hajian and Dr. David Chang, recipients of the Graduate Convocation Medal! The Convocation Medals for graduate studies recognize graduating students from each faculty whose cumulative grade-point averages place them in the top five per cent of their class.

Dr. David Chang

Dr. Chang’s doctoral thesis entitled, “Raven Knows My Name: Contemplation and Practice on an Off-Grid Island” examines contemplative perspectives in environmental education. It is described by Dr. Chang’s peers as much more than just that. Dr. Chang’s thesis reflects on his field work on an off-grid island where he wrestles with the habits of mind associated with ecological and social damage. The aims of his research are to cultivate a greater love and respect for the environment.

Dr. Chang’s contribution also extends beyond his written thesis. Along with many academic achievements and published works, has received a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship, the Steele Memorial Fellowship, Vancouver East Rotary Graduate Scholarship, Waterhouse Graduate scholarship, and SFU Special Entrance Scholarship.  His thesis was nominated for the Canadian Philosophy of Education Society’s thesis award, and the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation award.

External Examiner, Dr. David Greenwood of Lakehead University, stated that Dr. Chang’s thesis was “truly exceptional and recommend it for distinction.”

Of the award and his time at SFU, Dr. Chang says “I am honoured and humbled by this recognition, and would like to thank my family, friends, and my island community for their support.  Finally, this award would not be possible without the mentorship of Dr. Heesoon Bai, a well-respected scholar and educator in the field of contemplative education.  Much appreciation and gratitude goes to Dr. Bai.”

Dr. Chang is currently a Faculty Associate in the Professional Development Program at SFU where he continues to research contemplative approaches to environmental education, including practices for helping youths work with ecological grief.

Dr. Shiva Hajian

Dr. Hajian’s doctoral thesis “What types of feedback enhance the effectiveness of self-explanation in a simulation-based learning environment?” examines student learning and provides insight into the types of instructional feedback that would be the most beneficial to learners.

Dr. Hajian, building off her background in biological sciences, used controlled experiments and different types of instructional feedback to engage students while they learned about the concepts of the physics of waves. The research provided significant data with the goal of creating practical cognitive and metacognitive tools in educational environments to benefit learners at all levels.

Dr. Hajian’s contribution extends well beyond her written thesis. Along with many academic achievements and publications, Dr. Hajian has recently presented at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education conference in Edmonton Alberta.

Dr. Hajian’s supervisor, Dr. John Nesbit of SFU’s Faculty of Education, has a lot of praise for Dr. Hajian’s work. He says, “Drawing from an apparently inexhaustible well of ingenuity and determination, she has been able to overcome significant challenges presented by the research to obtain new insights into how the process of scientific discovery can be translated to an educational process for learning fundamental scientific concepts.”  

Dr. Hajian was delighted to receive the Dean’s Convocation Medal. Of the award she said, “Receiving this highly prestigious medal is an incredible honor that will be cherished forever. It is also a constant reminder that success is collaboratively achieved and celebrated. Behind this achievement, there are years of investigation, questioning, critical thinking, and reflection.” 

Dr. Hajian is following her passion for scientific thinking and discovery learning, by teaching research courses at SFU.