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Wednesday, May 13 • 2:05pm - 2:35pm
Student Wellness and Applied Programs at Vancouver Community College

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Student wellness is an important focus across the post-secondary landscape. At Vancouver Community College the Fashion Design and Production Program recently engaged in a pilot project of co-curricular recognition as part of a multi-faceted wellness initiative. Informed by design thinking and critical theory, the co-curricular recognition program brings the learning cycles and dialogic approach to critical reflection occuring in the classroom into the world to recognize community leaders and support activities that contribute to the learning and broader community.

In recent years, there has been a perceived increase of issues surrounding student wellness; the factors behind this are likely complex and multi-faceted. Post-secondary institutions across Canada are noticing benefits of co-curricular recognition programs. In the fashion program at VCC, students engage in incentivized self-directed activities (such as volunteering, contributing to the program blog, participating in the peer-support program) and reflect on the meaning and impact of these activities. The underlying goal is to improve student well-being through several avenues: recognizing community leadership, widening personal professional support networks, developing moral identity, strengthening sense of belonging, articulating expectations and desired learning culture, bridging the gap between understanding social issues and taking action, and critically reflecting for sense-making and assumption acknowledgement.

For an applied arts program, design thinking is a natural fit – the curriculum informed by design thinking, and it is a mindset that students need to develop in order to thrive as designers both in and out of school. In the program, critical reflection, which involves detecting and uncovering power relations and hegemonic assumptions, and design thinking find their intersection in the explicit, cyclical, and dialogic approach to reflecting on doing and learning. In the co-curricular recognition pilot, this is expanded outside of the classroom into the community-at-large.

This presentation describes an action research project studying the co-curricular pilot through the lens of encouraging critical reflection. We consider whether offering students scholastic recognition through community engagement, and guiding them to reflect critically on their experiences, can encourage them to critically consider their assumptions, and to become empowered to not only interpret but also influence (disrupt) the world that they live in.


Wednesday May 13, 2020 2:05pm - 2:35pm
Ballroom 3
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