2016 VIU Create Conference Puts Spotlight On Undergraduate Research

The Create Conference gives VIU students an opportunity to share their research with the public through presentations, posters, and demonstrations.

February 11, 2016 - 3:00pm

VIU student research will be on display at the 2016 VIU Create Conference

Students descend on the cafeteria from all corners of campus to participate – and the posters, displays, presentations and performances they bring with them always wow the crowds.

The 2016 Vancouver Island University (VIU) Create Conference offers an incredible opportunity to showcase and celebrate the major projects and research students are engaged in. This March 30, the 4th annual event promises to be the biggest celebration yet.

“We wanted to create a space where we could publically honour and celebrate the incredible work being done by our students. That’s where the Create Conference got its start. What we’ve found is the positive effects of the event are felt more widely than we anticipated,” said Associate Vice-President of Scholarship and Community Engagement, Dr. Trevor Davis.

The VIU Create Conference has grown to represent almost all faculties and areas of study at VIU. Davis says in the past an unexpected benefit was seeing how inspired the VIU High School, first and second year students were by the depth and breadth of research being done at the higher levels.

“We saw a tremendous exchange of information between the presenters and the students who came out to enjoy the conference. By seeing what the third and fourth year undergraduates were working on, the younger students could easily visualize what they could accomplish and they were excited by the possibilities,” said Davis.

“It’s one of the reasons we are encouraging all of our professors to take their classes down to enjoy the event on March 30. The participants put a lot of work into their presentations, they are proud of the research they are involved in and it really shows.”

For First Nations Studies professor Laura Cranmer, the Create Conference is a highlight of the term. Her First Nations (FNAT) 380 Special Topics class - Indigenous Identities and Languages - requires students to design a poster for the Create Conference as part of their course assignments. The students partner up to co-author a 15-page term paper on an aspect of Indigenous language revitalization. Once complete, the students then collaborate on a poster design to visually represent their research conclusions. 

“My students are so excited when they complete their term papers. When we get to the poster assignment they are full of ideas. After the hard work of completing their term paper is done they get to express their ideas visually and have fun,” said Cranmer.

The FNAT 380 class concludes the term with a panel of experts (language activists and linguist scholars) working in support of the Hul’qumi’num and Kwak’wala languages. By then, the students have completed their poster designs and displayed them on the walls surrounding the guest panel.

“The panel guests were all so impressed. They studied the poster displays and learned about the shared concerns between the communities represented in the posters. They could see very quickly what issues the students were grappling with in their research,” said Cranmer. “Linguist scholar, Dr. Donna Gerdts, observed that the posters represented graduate level work, which really made my students feel great.”

VIU professors Sylvie Lafrenière, Elizabeth McLin and Robert Willis also require third and fourth year students in their Applied Community Research course to participate in the Create Conference. The students work in teams and act as consultants for a community-based organization during two terms. They present the preliminary results of their community experience at the conference.

The types of presentations the students do vary with the community engagement work they conduct – everything from preparing a community profile to conducting interviews with guests at homeless shelters in Nanaimo.

 “Create is an academic conference. As professors we present at events like this all the time – but for most of our students it’s their first time speaking about their work in front of an audience,” said Lafrenière.

“They have to figure out how to condense a lot of information into a short time. It’s extremely challenging, but once they present their work and field questions from the public they gain confidence in their abilities. It gives them ownership and clarity about the work they’ve done,” said Lafrenière.

A free poster design workshop is being held on Monday, Feb. 15 from 11:30 to 1 pm on the Nanaimo campus (building 305, room 444). To find out more about the 2016 Create Conference and to get registered go to: www.viu.ca/research/create/

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MEDIA CONTACT:  Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 C: 250.618.7296 E: communications@viu.ca


Tags: Student Success