Social Researchers win awards at Student Research Day 2019

GUEST BLOG by Maxina Spies for UFV’s Centre for Social Research

On March 26, 2019, University of the Fraser Valley students from a variety of faculties presented their research findings with posters and mini-lectures at the annual Student Research Day in Evered Hall on the Abbotsford campus. Several individuals and teams presented projects related to social research and won awards for their outstanding work. We are proud to highlight them here.

Among the winners was Erin Haan, a second year student minoring in Communications, who was awarded the $200 Associate Vice-President, Research, Engagement & Graduate Studies prize for her research on “Media Framing of the Dairy Industry in the Canada/US Trade Renegotiation,” supervised by Communications faculty member and Centre for Social Research affiliate Dr. Marcella LaFever. As part of her Professional Research Report Writing class, she looked at the framing of the new USMCA trade negotiation, with a focus on the dairy industry because of her own experience working on dairy farms for over six years. Erin also has taken a dairy certificate program, which helped her interpret her research on how Canadian and American newspapers framed the dairy conversation during the 2018 free trade negotiation. She stressed that “media outlets have had a large impact on the renegotiation issue by presenting particular points of views,” and that “biased headlines can cloud the public opinion on the renegotiation.”

Nursing student Christine Drew, supervised by Professor Shelley Canning, won the $200 Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences Award for her research titled, “Exploring the understanding and comfort levels of nursing students with Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).” Christine’s research flowed out of a directed studies research course in the nursing program and her recognition of the layers of ethical and practical challenges for nurses in relation to the recent MAiD legislation. Her research contributes to a small existing body of research on the topic and helps address these challenges. Christine said her research highlights that “comfort levels surrounding MAiD are very multifaceted and can be influenced by age, gender, work experience, educational levels and background personal beliefs such as religiosity.”

Christine found that when she began the project, people would often ask for her opinion on MAiD, although she feels that the “opinion of the nurse innately shouldn’t be considered for a patient requesting MAiD.” This dichotomy intrigued her and spurred her interest in her research question. In reflecting on her research, Christine stressed that “it is vital that nurses reflect and be aware of their values and beliefs surrounding MAiD so as to provide impartial patient-centred care,” which points to the importance of education for nurses on end of life care. Christine will be presenting this study in May at the UBC Graduate Nursing Student Association annual symposium, and will be graduating in June.

Psychology student Caroline Duncan won the $200 Dean, College of Arts – Social Sciences Award for her poster presentation on “Loneliness, Resilience, and Cognition of Older Adults.” Duncan’s research was supervised by Dr. Lesley Jessiman, a psychology professor and member of UFV’s Centre for Education and Research on Aging (CERA). Dr. Jessiman’s work with CERA has looked at issues related to improving quality of life for aging populations, researching ageism and higher education, and the effects of typical aging on emotional and cognitive functions. She points out that Caroline’s research has is “particularly important given the growing older adult populations in the Lower Mainland, which is where the data was collected.” As a mature student, Caroline shared about the relevance of her research to her own life as she cares for her aging father, who has “struggled with loneliness and loss of his resilience when faced with adversity later in his life.” Caroline’s interest in completing this project as part of her honour’s thesis for her psychology degree grew after taking UFV’s Adulthood and Aging course.

The research also connects to the intergenerational aspect of aging, because, as Caroline puts it, “We are all hopefully going to be given the opportunity to grow old in our lifetime, and loneliness does not align with our human nature.” The chance to interact with participants and learn from their life experiences was a highlight for Caroline as she conducted her research. She hopes that this work pushes UFV to integrate a gerontology program for students. Dr. Jessiman hopes that the research “will help inform policy by identifying specific means with which to reduce levels of loneliness among our aging populations,” which has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a significant factor in rising morbidity and mortality rates in older populations. Both researchers hope to continue a second phase of the study with semi-structured interviews of a wider sample set.

Business students Allan Les, Ford McMahon, and Simeon Gellert were awarded the $200 Vice Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic Award for their poster presentation on “Crime Rates in Canada,” supervised by Professor David Dobson from the UFV School of Business. As part of David Dobson’s Economic and Business Statistics course, the team developed a research question focused on whether there is a correlation between a local police force and lower crime rates. The group focused on Surrey’s expensive decision to switch from RCMP to a local police force. Based on a statistical analysis, the team concluded that there is a positive correlation between having a local police force and lower crime rates. Although this was a strong factor in reducing crime rate, they also found that socioeconomic factors played an even more significant role, stressing that, “In order to ensure continued decreases in the local CSI (Crime Severity Indexes), Surrey’s City Council should continue their work to encourage post-secondary education, stable families, and economic development to provide well-paying jobs.” Although this project was not directly related to the business program, Simeon Gellert stated that it was an enjoyable project and he hopes to work with Allan and Ford again in the near future.

We congratulate these students for their excellent contributions to social research which not only enriches the UFV academic community, but also has important applications in our wider communities.

For more information on the Centre for Social Research:


Twitter @4socialresearch

Listening from an unfamiliar worldview: It takes practice

NOW RESCHEDULED: Monday Feb. 25, 2019

Hot on the heels of Dr. Mai Anh Doan’s talk at the Scholarly Sharing Initiative event this month about financial communication as it relates to crowd-sourced fundraising you will have a chance to catch up on a research project undertaken by another member of the Communications department, Dr. Marcella LaFever at the upcoming February 13 event.

Marcella, in examining the implications for herself to decolonize her communication practices, has focused her ongoing research program on listening to Indigenous voices that have been saying for a long time what colonizers need to do to change their attitudes and practices. Dr. LaFever’s current work alongside Shirley Hardman (UFV’s Senior Advisor on Indigenous Affairs) investigates use of First Nation storytelling as a form of dialogic participation, specifically in relation to how stories were used by Indigenous participants in submissions to the 2010 Cohen Commission on Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

The presentation for the Scholarly Sharing Initiative follows up on stories that were initially coded through use of Stó:lo story types: Sqwelqwel (oral narratives relating to personal history) and Sxwôxwiyám (oral histories that describe the distant past). This discussion focuses on the third stage of the analysis, the use of Linda Tuhiwai-Smith’s “Twenty-Five Indigenous Projects” as explained in her 1999 innovative book “Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples.”

The presentation will ask participants to engage in a discussion investigating the validity of using this as a qualitative coding framework.

From the UFV Events Calendar:

Scholarly Sharing Initiative — Indigenous Stories, Reflections




Podcasts not so new: Podcast fests another story

By Marcella LaFever

From its roots as audioblogging in the 1980s to its reinvention with the release of the iPod in 2004, the phenomenon of podcasting seems to have skyrocketed in recent years. The inaugural Vancouver Podcast Festival just took accessibility to the digital world to a new level this past November 8th to the 10th.

I could only attend the Friday sessions but it was nice to bump into Jess Wind through the twitterverse while waiting for the panel discussion on “Idea to Audio” to commence. Jess was waiting eagerly for the livecast of Hannah McGregor’s podcast Secret Feminist Agenda in the next session but it seems we did have at least one thing in common – getting some tips on starting a podcast from a fantastic panel that included some people that even other successful podcasters were eager to hear.

One question to the panel about ways to assess success led to a nice little list, from the obvious “downloads” to the more obscure and harder to measure – big data on whether audience listened all the way through or when they dropped out. Other measures included

  • interactions at podcast events
  • engagement through twitter, FB, Instagram
  • Returning listeners
  • critical reviews

with a reminder for “different measures for different types.”

In Hannah McGregor’s session that followed, we were treated to Hannah’s first ever live interview with two women criminal defense attorneys, Gloria Ng and Colleen Elden. As Hannah puts it, to talk about “charter rights, feminist friendship, and whether the law is a tool that can be bent towards justice or is inherently aligned with the oppressive function of the state!”

The final free session of the day was one with CBC’s Geoff Turner about his podcast On Drugs and David Payne’s Somebody Somewhere taking on true stories of the legal system. Both fascinating to say the very least 🙂

I truly wish I could have made it to the rest of the festival but I am pumped to finally get the Outdoors Golden podcast up and running soon.











Walking the Talk of Active Experiential Learning

By Mai Anh Doan

What happens when you soak pinecones in water? They close. And how do you get them to open up again? Well, either put them under direct sunlight (something we miss during these winter months) or put them in an artificially hot setting such as an oven. In both cases, it will take more time for them to open up again.

The metaphor powerfully reminded us, twelve members who sat in the University of the Fraser Valley’s very first New Faculty Development Program, about the importance of creating an open and inclusive classroom environment for students. On every Friday afternoon, for 11 weeks, we switched to being mature students and tackled the most essential issues of learning and teaching at UFV. The classes were always full of ideas and energy as members discussed and shared their teaching experiences with each other and with facilitators from the Teaching and Learning Unit and guests.

In the first half of the program, we re-examined seemingly traditional concepts such as student motivation, engagement in learning, learner community, experiential learning, and positive collaboration. Classic reads, for example, Freire’s banking concept or Mezirow’s transformational model of learning were used as starting points for further in-class discussions on their implications for various disciplines. We were also treated to hearing stories from students and seasoned faculty members who designed and participated in elaborative experiential learning opportunities that made life-long impacts.

For the second half of the program, we immersed in the sea of educational technologies. Some of the members are very well versed in this area, and all of us learned something from everybody. Through a Blackboard discussion, we built an impressive repertoire of the technologies that consists of well-known and well-used tools such as PowerPoint, or Blackboard Collaborate, and newer, cool programs such as Zeetings, Socrative, VoxVote that get students to participate in class in real time.

But perhaps, the biggest takeaway from the program was the opportunity for us, newbies to UFV, to network with peers from other departments. Some of us are already talking about cross- and inter-disciplinary projects that help students see their subjects of study under different lights. As the program continues next semester, we are in fact looking forward to seeing some of these projects come to fruition.

Chatting with a conversationalist

 My first impression of Jeff was his carefree and loud laughter that had our classroom full of new UFV staff smitten. Jeff recently joined the University of the Fraser Valley from the Royal Roads University after decades of living and teaching in Turkey, the UK and Ireland and is quickly becoming an important member of the Communications team here.

“I am a conversationalist”

So said Jeff when we sat down for an interview for this blog. It seems so easy to have a chat with him about almost any topic. But this easiness comes from a deeper underlying philosophy that drives his way of interacting and teaching.

“I see myself as a conversational teacher. I like to be able to establish connections with students in- and outside of the classroom. I like to see the students making connections with themselves, with other students, with instructors, with ideas based on the common ground that we all share. I strongly believe that once connections are made, we bond and learn better.”

Sometimes, this common ground comes down to a simple thing such as being new to Abbotsford. In one of his classes, when students were quiet and shied away from answering his simple questions, Jeff decided to break the silence with a very simple request: Can you tell us how long you have been here? The realization that all students, and Jeff, had just been here for a couple of weeks, suddenly made them relate to each other, and as a result, conversations started.

When asked what he wanted his students to take away from his classes, Jeff said matter-of-factly: “That they realize that they are constantly communicating, no matter what”. This is very profound because through communication, individuals “get changed by the world but can also actively change that world.”

A researcher of rhetoric, border studies, cultural theory, and visual communication

Jeff came to the UFV with an impressive CV. He graduated from University of British Columbia for his Bachelor’s, moved to Ireland to do his Master’s, and then to the University of Leeds for his PhD in visual and textual analysis. After PhD, he made a transition to Istanbul, Turkey to teach English literature and communications.

At UFV, he continues his research interest in political communication. Jeff is currently studying audience response to the representation of political issues on the media. Jeff wants to examine the message as well as the “background noise” that are inherent in these issues, but that we sometimes take for granted.

As a student and scholar of visual communication, Jeff is, of course, image-conscious. He always wears a suit or blazer complemented by an Ivy cap while on campus. But you are more likely to recognize him with his contagious genuine laughter. So stop and have a conversation with Jeff the next time you’re on campus.

Abbotsford International: Dr. Mai Anh Doan

A warm Communications Department welcome to our new faculty member, Dr. Mai Anh Doan! Dr. Doan arrives with both practical and academic skills in Public Relations, Journalism, and Financial Communications.  Her broad international experience includes Vietnam, where she grew up and completed her BA in Journalism at Vietnam National University; some time in Sweden, where she went to secondary school; a stint in Australia for her Master’s and then New Zealand for her Ph.D.

She says her own international experience helps her empathize with her students in the classroom, and she stresses the importance of crossing bridges between theoretical and practical knowledge and skills. She is constantly asking, “How does what we do in the classroom apply to everyday life”, to motivate students to learn better?

Mai Anh did her MA in Communication Management at the University of Technology, Sydney, and her PhD at the University of Waikato, NZ, examining crowdfunding models for micro-investing.  After a successful stint as a journalist, and Public Relations manager for multinational corporations, she ran her own PR agency for several years.  She joined the Department of Communication at the University of the Fraser Valley this September and is already making an active contribution to the university and the community, serving on the board of organizers for an event to watch out for in the near future: Valley Fest.

Mai Anh’s international background is reflected in her deep understanding of communications.   “I think”, she says, with a quick, self-reflective nod, “that in a sense, communication is universal. If it’s based on respect, genuineness, mutuality, then it’s good communication, no matter where it is practiced”.