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New Leadership and New Directions for Student Engagement SIG

The New Year marks some large changes for the Special Interest Group on Student Engagement (SIGSE). This year, the objective of the group is to find new ways to empower students in research and increase student ownership. The present leadership of the group exemplifies this; the SIG is chaired by Sam Dvorakova, an undergraduate student, and supported by two co-chairs, Miriam Carey and Paul Taylor, both respected faculty in the field. Through the new leadership, we have become one of the first groups in ISSOTL to not only include students in our midst, but to support students in taking executive positions and shaping the group.

To better communicate with our members, the SIG leaders will post regular blog posts here on the ISSOTL blog; posts will include an open question designed to foster communication within our network. These posts will then form the basis of a presentation at the next ISSOTL conference. Please join us in the conversation!

Sam L. Dvorakova is an honours research student in chronic pain and neuropharmacology at the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland. She has recently completed two bachelor degrees in science and arts, majoring in biochemistry and mathematics respectively. She has received a number of scholarships and stipends to work on Student as Partner initiatives and this May will be one of the facilitators at the MIIETL Summer Institution ‘Students as Partners.’ Sam has worked with student groups such as low-income, international, and first-year science students in specialist programs designed to improve retention rates, involvement, and foster learning communities. Her research interests also include finding practical ways to encourage involvement of undergraduates in research, transfer of skills and knowledge between fields, and metacognition.

Miriam Carey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. She became interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning in 2008 and, since then, has undertaken several research projects. Her first publication in this field concerned cultivating student intentionality and integration of knowledge, and more recently, her collaborative team has published Critical Reading in Higher Education: Academic Goals and Social Engagement (2015).  Her most recent SoTL project scaffolded original undergraduate research (forthcoming in Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching). She is currently interested in empowering students through an ontological approach to leadership development and continues to teach political science and general education foundation courses. Miriam is committed to empowering students to achieve their own goals in terms of their academic experience.

Paul C. Taylor is a Professor of Chemical Education at the University of Leeds. He is a founding member and subsequently Director (2005-10) of the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research, a Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL) at the University of Warwick and Oxford Brookes Universities in the UK. In 2010, he became Director of Warwick's interfaculty teaching and learning institute IATL, developing different modes of student leadership of the institute and its activities and continuing to explore the power student-led SoTL projects. His current university provides significant opportunities for student leadership within 'The Partnership’. In June 2016, a University funded intern and he will be travelling to the Council of Undergraduate Research in Florida to participate in a panel on how student researchers can themselves help to develop student research opportunities.

To learn more about the Student Engagement SIG, please email Sam on

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