Our students stand out at Students As Researchers (StaR) Conference in April and tackle new research topics in October
In April 2015, two teams of students from our Board joined students from across Ontario to present their StaR research projects to the Ministry of Education. These projects were undertaken as part of the Students as Researchers (StaR) initiative set out by the Ministry of Education to offer students a voice in provincial educational priorities. The StaR project is part of SpeakUp, a provincial initiative dedicated to reshaping the learning environment based on student input, and was designed to help Grade 7 to 12 students develop critical thinking and research skills while they completed research projects to better understand how to improve their education.
The students involved in the Students as Researchers Conference in Toronto, were Madison MacLachlan and Danielle McKenney from Superior Heights Collegiate & Vocational School (pictured above presenting at the Board (left) and brainstorming at Stokely) and (below) Emily Duchesne, Breanna Hamilton, Abbi Harris, Mitchell Hayes and Tristan Sacchetta from Northern Heights Public School.
The projects from Northern Heights and Superior Heights were among the 38 research projects selected by the Ministry to be presented to Minister of Education Hon. Liz Sandals, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Student Achievement Officer Hon. Mary Jean Gallagher, and Minister of Children and Youth Services Hon. Tracy MacCharles, as well as other government officials, educational professionals and peers.
“The officials and educators were very impressed with the caliber of our students’ presentations. There was quite a buzz both before and after their presentations about our students, the research they completed and their level of understanding.” Davey Taylor, ADSB's Wellness Special Assignment Coordinator
The StaR research initiative began in the fall of 2014 with over 40 students meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Education and OELC (Ontario Educator Leadership Council) for a 3-day retreat in Stokely Creek, Goulais River. At the retreat, the students began to develop their research questions based on the theme: “What does student well-being look like to you?”
With this theme in mind, the students developed individual research questions. Students from the grade eight class at Northern Heights constructed the research question “Can we make active minds through active bodies?” and used observation and surveys to investigate whether Brain Breaks (short bursts of exercise during the school day) would improve students’ mental and physical well-being. Grade 12 students from Superior Heights investigated the question “What factors influence a student’s willingness to participate and find success in the school environment?” and utilized focus groups and a school-wide survey to learn what prevented students from participating in classrooms and school events.
The students completed their projects throughout the school year and submitted proposals in January to be accepted into the Students as Researchers Conference.
This fall (October 2015) our Board once again sent six student teams and ADSB staff to a three-day Students as Researchers (StaR) Conference at Stokely Creek Lodge.
These teams from Elliot Lake Secondary (left), WC Eaket in Blind River (middle) and Michipicoten High School in Wawa (right) were 3 of the 6 ADSB teams to take part in StaR this fall.
The theme or guiding question of the conference this year was “What are your ideas for living, learning and working in today's schools?” Over the 72 hours, school teams were challenged to come up with a draft research question that will be used to guide their research over the next 6 months. Some of the research questions that are being or have been developed by the teams. While some teams continue to refine their research question, other examples included:
- How can e-learning most effectively support student engagement and learning?
- How do students’ different learning styles affect student learning?
- Will reducing stress reduce drug use?
- Mental well-being and engagement. Are they the most important keys to success?
From here, students will determine how to proceed with their research question.