"I hope to contribute to making Canadian post-secondary institutions more supportive for all students, particularly those with disabilities."

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Student Profile: Natalie Frandsen

PhD Student in the Faculty of Education

December 04, 2020
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I am in the second year of the Educational Technology and Learning Design PhD program. I am an Assistant Teaching Professor at UVic (School of Public Health and Social Policy) and my background is in the health sciences and public health nursing.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

The faculty and staff were welcoming and helpful during my PhD program search process. I was drawn to the cohort model of the program and was impressed with the program structure. The program has been purposefully designed for professionals seeking to complete doctoral studies.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH.

The objective of my research is to build understanding of the influences on learning for online students with mental-health-related disabilities. As the shift toward online learning continues, it is essential to understand these factors in order to create accessible and inclusive learning environments. Interviews with students (N=14), instructors (N=15) and support staff (N=7), are the primary data source for my study. I argue that "the work" of accessibility needs to shift upstream, from the student to the institution. We have an obligation to provide accessible education and creating mental health promoting communities of learning can be one approach to meet this duty. My goal is to translate study findings into practical recommendations for administrators and instructors in Canadian post-secondary institutions. 

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The professors in the program are experts in the field and together, they provide a varied educational experience for the students. I have met some great people in the program and I know that some of my student colleagues will be friends for life.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS?

I was fortunate to be awarded two entrance scholarships: the BC Graduate Scholarship and the Faculty of Education, Dean's Graduate Fellowship. Additionally, I was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship (2020-2023).