Category Stories
 

Internship leads to opportunity for marketing student

Business

Vicky McKenna has gone from strength to strength since enrolling in the Williams School of Business (WSB) at Bishop’s University. Thanks to the WSB’s coop program, The Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec native has been able to explore her passion in the workforce, a passion she discovered in grade 10.

‘‘I applied for two positions at Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), one in social media and the other in their customer relationship management (CRM) department,’’ recalls Vicky. ‘‘I ended up being interviewed for both positions on the same day!’’

Vicky eventually spent her summer working in the company’s CRM department in Valcourt, about an hour away from campus. She gained valuable experience there, mining data for the newly created division. Things were going so well in fact that, mid-way through her internship, the company offered to extend her internship into a part-time job starting in the fall. ‘‘I worked 1 day a week for them,’’ she says. ‘‘Plus they offered me an internship for summer 2016!’’

The internship gave Vicky a chance to see how marketing plays out in the real world and what companies need in future marketing professionals like her.

‘‘The internship has given me a new perspective on what I love to do,’’ she says. ‘‘Before I was willing to do any job in marketing, but now I realize that I love CRM, and that’s what I hope to do after I graduate.’’

A new teaching method pays dividends

Biology

Bishop’s gets rave reviews from its students for its small classes, which affords them the opportunity to form close bonds with their professors and their peers. But a small classroom can sometimes allow flexibility for a professor like Dr. Kerry Hull, who has been teaching in the Biology department for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Hull teaches physiology. Over the years, an increasing amount of content on her subject has been made available on the Internet for anyone who wants to learn more about it. Dr. Hull decided to use this to the advantage of her students by ‘‘flipping’’ her class.

‘‘Basically, flipping the class means that a student’s first contact with the material happens outside the classroom, before the class,’’ she explains. ‘‘In a traditional science classroom, students come in knowing nothing about the subject matter. The professor is the knowledgeable authority in the classroom, and typically delivers a lecture which students absorb.’’

‘‘Now I often give students something to do before the class. It could be watching an animation, completing a pre-class assignment, working through a study guide, etc. When they come to class, I help them apply the knowledge,’’ she says.

Dr. Hull came upon this method at a teaching conference she attended. She noticed that many professors in her field are flipping their classes. ‘‘I can’t speak about the experimental sciences, but I have noticed that the campuses that concentrate on pedagogy are adopting this type of teaching method. Flipping the class is about bringing more learning into the classroom,’’ she says.

One of Dr. Hull’s students, Laura Crack, has an interesting view on flipping. ‘‘I spent more time than usual learning about a particular subject, but then I didn’t feel I needed to study for the exam because I felt I was fully prepared,’’ Laura says. ‘‘Because of the nature of her course, you can prevent the cramming that a lot of students tend to do during exam period. I feel I retained a lot more information by learning this way. I can still easily discuss topics that were covered last semester, which is great.’’

In fact, Dr. Hull has noted that the average mark for her flipped class was 5% higher than for her traditional class. But choosing to teach this way is more than just about students getting a higher mark. ‘‘In the flipped setting, I can concentrate on skills. If I stand and lecture at you, you’re not developing any competencies. In this setting, students are doing more group work, and they are learning to learn. I know it’s a challenge for them, but there is no doubt that every student is benefitting from this method, whether they know it or not.’’

“You Have Everything to Win by Coming to Bishop’s!”

Teaching English as a Second Language

Geneviève Fugère fell in love with the English language when she attended an English elementary school. In fact, she loved it so much that she decided to become an English teacher. So when the time came to choose a university, she decided to check out Bishop’s.

“When I came here for my first visit, I completely fell in love with the people, the campus and the program!’’ she says.

Despite her moderate ease with English in her first year, Geneviève realized that she had a lot more to learn. Fortunately the campus is filled with students from around the world who are more than willing to help.

‘‘My English has improved a lot since studying here,’’ she says. ‘‘Being around Anglophone students made me practice. People correct me in a friendly way, which is helpful.’’

‘‘The more English you hear, the more you can reproduce it,’’ reminds the future teacher.

Conversation is one thing, writing is another. Here, Geneviève does what so many other Francophone students do: head to the Writing Centre.

‘‘I go to the Writing Centre for every paper. It’s been such a fantastic resource for me! My sentence structures are French, so I’m working to change that. The more I go, the more I can talk to them and work on improving myself. I’m almost at the point I can do it on my own!’’

If writing papers in English seems overwhelming for first-year students, they can submit their essays in French. Tutors are also available for a one-on-one learning experience.

But as Geneviève points out: ‘‘The best way to improve your English language skills is to be surrounded by English speaking people. Believe me, you will figure out a way to communicate with your professors!’’

Other exciting learning opportunities come when Francophones meet international students, many of whom don’t know how to speak French. ‘‘English is the common language for so many people from around the world. Once I met a student from Germany. We quickly realized that the only way we could communicate is through English, so it was a beneficial learning experience for both of us!’’ she says.

Geneviève encourages hesitant students to take a chance and fall in love with Bishop’s.

‘‘Take a chance, you have nothing to lose! I promise that if you come for a visit, you’ll never leave!’’

Research at its most powerful

School of Education

Bishop’s is a hub of dedicated and passionate research activity conducted both inside and beyond the classroom. Future educators in particular are lucky to be involved in the work conducted by the husband-and-wife team of Christopher Stonebanks and Melanie Bennett-Stonebanks, who have been engaged in research at the School of Education since 2005.

Both award-winning faculty at Bishop’s, the professors are conducting research projects on several fronts which all involve students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The Research on Secularism and Education (ROSE) project is funded thanks to a 4-year grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Professor Stonebanks is the Primary Investigator on the ethnographic research project which examines the secular nature of Canadian public schools.

‘‘In Quebec especially, there has been significant debate over the years about the division between church and state in our society,’’ says Professor Stonebanks. ‘‘I work with one undergraduate student and 3 graduate students, and together we look at teachers’ perspectives on this issue. It has become a hot button topic in our increasingly multicultural society.’’

The second research project is called Praxis Malawi, of which Prof. Stonebanks is the director since its inception in 2009. Professor Stonebanks has organized multi-university, interdisciplinary place-based learning endeavours in the rural region of Kasungu, Malawi. There, his students and others coming from universities in Canada and in Europe, work on curriculum development for the young students.

‘‘It was important for us to establish a consultation process with the local community of Kasungu,’’ explains Prof. Stonebanks. ‘‘We wanted to adopt a collaborative approach, and we wanted the process to be mutually beneficial.’’

Over the years, dozens of students have spent five to six weeks in Malawi. ‘‘Some students have returned several times, so they become leaders in the field,’’ says Professor Bennett-Stonebanks, who is the interim director of practice teaching at Bishop’s. ‘‘They receive credit for the work they do. It’s incredible to see them get involved and come back completely changed.’’

She adds: ‘‘Not only do the students help us advance our research project there and gain valuable experience on the ground, but the experience broadens their worldview. They know they will become better teachers as a result. As educators, they will be able to offer something much deeper to their own students than if they hadn’t gone to Malawi. It’s very powerful.’’

For more information on the ROSE project: http://www.seculareducation.com/
For more information on Praxis Malawi: www.praxismalawi.com

Helping sponsored students thrive at Bishop’s

Sociology

Aamir Aman’s journey is not typical. Before graduating from Cegep, he spent his high school years in a religious monastery, where he came to enjoy the small and intimate atmosphere. So when it came time to choose a university, he wanted a place where he felt he could belong.

“I googled ‘English universities in Quebec’ and found Bishop’s. I thought, ‘I’m definitely going here!’,” says Aamir.

The Columbo, Sri Lanka native has since found a way to not only integrate in the small Bishop’s community with ease, but also nurture it with his time and generosity.

One of the projects closest to his heart is the Refugee Student Sponsorship Project, which Bishop’s runs in partnership with Champlain College. The project started in 1992 when a group of faculty, staff and students heard of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), a private refugee sponsorship program. Very quickly, the group took action, and just a few months later it welcomed its first student fleeing the conflict raging in Rwanda at the time. Since then the campus has welcomed more than 35 refugee students from countries including Ethiopia, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, to name a few.

Aamir sits on the committee that works to bring a student to campus each year. The arrival of a student is a transformative experience for everyone involved, not least of which are the students like Aamir who help the sponsored student integrate into the community and learn the inner workings of Canadian society.

Aamir has been moved by the incredible strength and resilience of the students he has helped.

“It’s a very special experience for me to see these sponsored students settle in their new home,” explains the Sociology honours student. “We help the student with many of the tasks that we all take for granted, like grocery shopping and working on the computer. It’s made us realize just how fortunate we are to live in Canada, how we have peace and abundance. It’s very humbling.”

Through his experiences with the sponsored students, Aamir has gained an appreciation for the plight of people who are forced to leave their homes due to conflict.

“I’ve grown so much personally because of the experiences I’ve had with the refugee sponsorship committee. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn not only about your new friend and their background, but also about yourself.”

Special connections

A BBQ on a warm September evening. Conversations on local food production. Solving time management problems.

These descriptions would normally apply to a friendly relationship between two people, but at Bishop’s University, these are common occurrences between professors and students.

Just ask Ryan Millar, a fifth-year Education student studying Social Studies with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language.

“The professors at Bishop’s are some of the most caring people I have ever met,” says the Richmond, British Columbia native. “They have a very hands-on approach when it comes to our education. They want to make sure that you really do want to become a teacher.”

One of Ryan’s inspirations is Dr. Avril Aitken, who has taught in the School of Education for 10 years. She describes her tenure at Bishop’s as a completely new chapter in her 36-year career as an educator, thanks in part to the size of her classes.

“The small size of my classes fosters a certain kind of intimacy that makes for deep and engaging discussions in the classroom,” she says. “The students get to know each other on a more intimate level, and this closeness makes them feel safe enough to tackle difficult topics in the presence of their peers, such as racism, homophobia, etc. Another positive outcome is that the students learn more about themselves.”

In some cases, the benefits of the small classroom can extend way beyond a student’s academic life. Ryan recalls a difficult time where he was overextending himself in various campus activities. “One year, I was holding down 5 jobs on campus. I was exhausted! One of my professors noticed and asked me how I was doing. We ended up having a long conversation about my schedule. She asked me if there was anything she could do to help.’’

“It was a pretty special feeling to know that someone like her was watching over me,” says Ryan. “I know of several other professors who interact with students in the same way.”

Dr. Aitken’s goal for her students is for them to become passionate vehicles for transformation in their own classrooms. With Ryan and students across the Bishop’s campus witnessing first-hand how their own teachers lead in and outside of the classroom, they are no doubt well on their way to becoming exceptional leaders themselves.

Please find Dr. Aitken’s full list of publications and research activity online.

Planting the SEED

Unique investing opportunities await Business students at Bishop’s

Bradley Toogood is well on his way to becoming a skilled investor, thanks to his experience in the SEED (Success through Education, Entrepreneurship and Dedication) course.

The SEED course gives business students like Bradley the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom. Fifteen years ago, Mr. David Williams gave more than $500,000 to the Williams School of Business so that students could gain a more comprehensive understanding of portfolio management, thus creating SEED.

A BBA student with a concentration in Finance and an Honours degree in Economics, Bradley is a portfolio manager in the course, managing an investment portfolio that includes approximately 30 companies.

Students can play different roles in the course, but their responsibilities are very similar to what they would find in an actual investment job.

“If I want to invest in a particular industry, I must first propose my idea to a strategist, who is also a student,” explains the Moncton, New Brunswick native. “But before I get the green light, the strategist will ask me to conduct research on that industry to determine which company I should invest in.” Bradley then writes a lengthy report that he presents to an external advisory board composed of expert portfolio managers.

“Some board members are Bishop’s alumni who are recognized experts in the finance industry across North America,” he says. “They ask very tough questions about our research and report.” As a result of the board’s acumen and the students’ hard work, the donor’s original investment has grown significantly since SEED’s inception.

And just like in the finance world, managing a portfolio is considerable work. “I write one to two reports per semester. In total it is 30 to 60 hours of work but since it’s a course I get credit for it.”

Though most other business schools in Canada offer this type of opportunity often at the Master’s degree level only, students at Bishop’s have better odds of getting into the course thanks to the small size of the student body.

As Bradley plans his future as a portfolio manager at an investment bank, he feels he couldn’t get a better experience than what SEED offers him. “It’s definitely one of the best courses we have in our program.”

Linking history and advocacy

Bishop’s is an ideal environment for people with passions. Dr. David Webster, a professor in the History department, has watched his students explore their interests (and discover new ones) since he first stepped into a Bishop’s classroom back in 2011.

“That’s one of the things I like the most about the student experience here at Bishop’s,” he says. “Everyone cares about something.”

Dr. Webster’s own passion project focuses on the interactions between Canada and Southeast Asia, which colours his teachings and research. He’s penned one book about the history of Canadian relations with Indonesia, and is currently working on a second volume about Canadian policy on East Timor, which was invaded and occupied by Indonesia from 1975 until 1999.

But his interest in the region extends beyond the confines of his office and classroom.

“I became involved in the East Timor Alert Network (ETAN) as an undergraduate student in the 1980s, and continued to be involved with it for the next 12 to 15 years,” he explains. “ETAN is a human rights group dedicated to human rights in East Timor, which was a colony of the Indonesian army when Indonesia was a military dictatorship.” East Timor finally gained its independence in 1989.

The government of East Timor recently recognized ETAN’s efforts by bestowing upon the group the Order of Timor-Leste, the country’s highest honour. Dr. Webster received the medal on ETAN’s behalf, and was struck by how unlikely that moment would have seemed when he first started doing advocacy work for the organization.

“During the award ceremony, I saw the president of East Timor who would have been one of those guerrilla warriors, fighting in the mountains,” he recalls. “He would have received the messages from foreign governments like Canada saying that independence could not be achieved. And yet there I was, on the 13th anniversary of the restoration of independence, and realized that in fact it’s not impossible. It can be accomplished.”

He continues: “It was a sign that when you take on an issue that has long odds of succeeding, there is no such thing as a lost cause. This one looked hopeless but they eventually succeeded.”

Dr. Webster has brought these significant lessons of East Timor’s history into his research. He is currently working on a project about truth commissions in Indonesia and East Timor, for which two students are working as research assistants. The work accomplished during the Fall 2015 semester means that Dr. Webster will be teaching a course on those truth commissions during the Winter 2016 semester. “I offered this course before, but this time the course will be so much richer because of the research we have conducted,” he says.

“My goal is to teach my students that Canada is involved in events happening in countries they may have never heard about, like East Timor,” he notes. “It’s important to understand that human rights are not confined by borders, and to relate history to contemporary affairs.”

Please find Dr. Webster’s full list of publications and research activities online.

A Francophone right at home

Bishop’s is home to a growing Francophone student population. It’s fitting, as the campus sits in a corner of Sherbrooke, the only university city in Quebec listed as “too cool for school” by Air Canada’s EnRoute magazine. But even if that’s the case, some French-speaking students  wonder just how they will succeed on an Anglophone campus.

Rachel Labonté is quick to quell any doubts or fears.

The 21-year-old from Drummondville, Quebec, is a student in the Teaching English as a Second Language program, minoring in Secondary Education. Bishop’s was a logical choice for Rachel, as her goal was to become an English teacher. She was also looking to stay close to home, and with Drummondville just a short drive away, she felt comfortable moving to Sherbrooke.

When Rachel first arrived on campus, her nervousness was tempered by the atmosphere on campus and the community of fellow Francophones who had made the same choice. “In the beginning, I did not know English so well,” she recalls. “It was scary, but then I met so many Francophones who were going through the same thing.”

Once classes began, Rachel found that many resources were available to her to improve her English skills. “The Writing Centre is really great,” she says. “I give them all of my work and they correct it with me, that way I can see where I need to improve.”

Rachel’s professors have also been instrumental in helping her perfect her English written and oral skills. “My teachers have been really helpful. One of my first classes was on pronunciation and that really helped me.” She also became friends with English-speaking students who helped her become bilingual.

At Bishop’s, students can turn their work in French, but Rachel decided against it, preferring to dive into her assignments in English and thus accelerate her progress.

Her advice for Francophones? “Don’t be scared,” she says. “It takes a lot of courage to learn a new language but it’s easy to improve. And there are so many ways to improve here.”

Into the minds of consumers

Dr. Kyung Lee is on the pulse of why consumers behave the way they do. He has been teaching management information systems, statistics and IT entrepreneurship at the Williams School of Business since 2011, but he’s also been very active in developing areas of research that explore consumer behaviour.

The Busan, South Korea native has published several research papers on online product reviews. “On websites such as Amazon.com and TripAdvisor.com, millions of people are sharing their experiences of a product or service, from books, hotels, restaurants, and so much more,” explains Dr. Lee. “People write these reviews to help fellow consumers make an informed decision about a particular product or service. My research focuses on the companies who use these sites to discover what their customers are saying about their own products.”

Before the advent of these websites, companies conducted market research through focus groups, which was a time-consuming and costly way for them to evaluate their products from a consumer’s perspective. Now that consumers’ opinions are online for anyone to see, companies can simply visit a webpage full of reviews to find out whether or not their product or service is being well received by the public.

“Online reviews are valuable word of mouth for companies,” concludes Dr. Lee. “They are great for companies because they can receive feedback very quickly and at no cost. It means they can make adjustments to their product or service more efficiently. Consumers ultimately win since they get an improved product or service.”

Dr. Lee is also looking into social media networks, particularly Facebook. Now the biggest social media network in the world, Facebook has attracted countless companies to create fan pages on Facebook. “If you are on Facebook, you can search for a company or a specific product, like Apple or the IPhone,” he says. “If you ‘like’ a company’s fan page, that company will appear in your timeline on your Facebook account. My research focuses on what makes people follow company fan pages on Facebook. When you ‘like’ a video on the Samsung Galaxy fan page,for example, you can share it with your friends on Facebook. I am looking into what makes an individual do that. This is what we call viral marketing.”

Dr. Lee often asks his students about their own consumer behaviour. “I ask my students if they watch television. The surprising answer is that they don’t! When they wake up, they open their smartphone and check their Facebook page. They get their news online. It’s very clear that the next generation is consuming different media compared to the older generations who tend to follow traditional media like newspapers, radio and television.”

With consumer trends constantly evolving, there is no doubt that Dr. Lee will be unearthing new research findings that he will share with his students every semester.

Please find Dr. Lee’s full list of publications and research activities online.