In Dec. 2013, President Patrick Deane’s “Forward with Integrity” initiative approved funding for 28 out of 54 proposals in the first call for projects, which were designed to improve the academic experience of McMaster students.
Half of the accepted projects were from faculties and areas centered on inquiry into the biological, physical and medical sciences, such as projects in the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Health Sciences, Rehabilitation Sciences and the School of Nursing.
With a total of nine approved projects, whether independent or in collaboration with other faculties, students from the Faculty of Science have their educational interests well represented.
Lisa Barty, the manager of the Science and Career Cooperative Education Office, requested funding to support the salary of a new experiential learning coordinator. “We received $5,000 from the FWI fund, that was generously matched by the Dean of Science. This funding will provide about 20 per cent of the required funds for our project,” said Barty.
The new position will manage current course offerings, such as Science and Life Science 3EP3, 3EX6 and 3RP3, while also facilitating the development of new opportunities. The Faculty’s investment in experiential learning opportunities exemplifies an ongoing commitment to enrich the academic journey of Science students.
“Based on the growing enrollment in these courses, I would say that students are finding applied placements a great way to apply their academic knowledge in the community. They are also a very useful tool in their career planning.”
Amidst continuing global economic turbulence, opportunities to develop career-related skills in a way that helps gain credit towards graduation are incredibly valuable. Not all students may be interested in cooperative education positions, and therefore experiential programs may be a more relevant choice. Barty emphasized that, “Experiential education allows our students not only to explore career options, but to reflect upon their own strengths and goals.”
One concern that students may have is that there may be scarcer co-op opportunities in the face of increasing enrollment. However, the Faculty aims to address these needs as well. “The Faculty of Science is planning to expand our cooperative education programs to meet the growing student demand for work integrated learning,” explained Barty.
“We are also exploring a formalized internship program and looking to build a framework to grow our applied science placements. Our students value the opportunity to gain professional networks, find mentors, and determine if further education is required to meet their career goals.”
Proposals for projects based on collaborative efforts and research pursuits between different areas of study are being accepted in the second round, which closes at the extended deadline of noon on Feb. 28.