IMPACT OF RESEARCH IN THE COLLEGES
As I stand here tonight,
I realise that this is supposed to mean that I am a successful researcher and
that I am supposed to share my success story with you. This feels very awkward.
We Cegep researchers are not in the habit of advertising our accomplishments
to our peers and colleagues. It is not the way... in the Cegeps.
And yet, I feel that in
the future, this must be. That we must publicise our successes and trumpet our
accomplishments. For we have accomplished, we have constructed knowledge, and
we have made important advances in our fields. We have made a difference in
the lives of our students, in the intellectual atmosphere of our departments
and colleges, and in the larger scientific community.
WE CEGEP RESEARCHERS MUST
PUBLICIZE OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
In this era of downsizing,
of shrinking budgets, disappearing released time, and general malaise in the
system, we must inform our own communities about the value of our work and about
the importance and significance of our accomplishments. If we fail to effectively
sell ourselves and the value of the research agenda to our Cegeps... if we fail
to promote the research agenda "at home"... research as we know it has a good
chance of disappearing from the Cegeps .
There are so many priorities,
and so many demands. Here, as in many other realms, the squeaky wheel gets the
grease .Those who speak out most vocally about the importance of their domain
So, having said this much,
let me go a little farther. I want to stress that we must inform
our administrators, our
colleagues, and the media about what we have learned, what we have accomplished,
and about the knowledge we have constructed.
We must give credit to our
colleges. Without the active support of my Cegep - Dawson College - my research
could not have been carried out. In this regard, I'd like to "paraphrase" a
famous quote from John Kennedy, "Ask not what your college can do for you, but
ask what you can do for your college!" By giving us space, by administering
our finances, by signing reports and authorising a variety of special requests,
many of our colleges have been very good to us.
We must ensure that those
responsible for making research possible at the colleges are aware of our contributions,
our appreciation and our gratitude. We must make sure that we speak to them
about our successes - not only about our complaints when things go wrong. We
must let our colleagues know about the benefits of our research for our students,
for our departments and sectors, for our colleges and for the CEGEP system as
Also, those of us who belong
to Cegep-university teams and have university affiliations must make a special
effort to publicise the important roles of our colleges in making the research
possible. This includes putting the Cegep's name on publications, acknowledging
the Cegep's contribution to resources such as computer access and released time,
and putting the Cegep's logo on lab groups' web pages.
CEGEP RESEARCHERS ARE SPECIAL
Bear in mind that we who
chose to pursue research in the Cegeps are a very special breed. We get a kick
from science. There are no perks or financial incentives. We will not get promoted
or earn tenure because we do research - we do it because we want to, not because
we have to. We work longer hours than we used to when our sole task was to teach.
Research does not end in June and resume in the fall - nor does it respect weekends
and holidays. We do not get paid extra for working throughout our "vacation"
For example, I was doing
research well before the possibility of funding existed. In the not-so-good
old days, I simply recruited anyone who would volunteer to punch a hot computer
- well, it was a calculator in those days - during the summer. I had a key to
the campus, and was frequently the only person around in the summer.
Well, fortunately, since
those early days my research has been continuously funded by a large variety
of granting agencies - both provincial and federal. By now, I best remember
them as acronyms: FCAR, SSHRC (CRSH), CQRS, NTIC, NHRDP (PRNDS), and PSCC.
I got my first official
grant in 1982 from FCAR. In those early and heady days, when funding organisations
were actively looking for new scientific talent, it was a different world. Those
of us who were around were carefully nurtured by FCAR. For example, we were
invited to participate in grants juries - this not only got FCAR's job done,
but it also taught us about grantsmanship. There is nothing like reading 50
or so grant applications year after year, and then hearing others' commentary
about what was good and bad about them to help sharpen one's grant writing skills.
One thing I have learned
during the past 15 years of reviewing for various granting organisations...
we must respect the granting organisation's goals and objectives, and we must
give them what they want. This is not to say that we cannot accomplish our own
research agendas. If we couldn't, what would be the point? But we must do this
in the context of the funding agency's priorities. It is well to remember this
as we explore new funding sources and look to new organisations and structures
to keep our research going.
MY RESEARCH ENRICHES MY
TEACHING AND MY STUDENTS
I have been really fortunate
- I am clinical psychologist, I have a Ph.D., and I do fundamental research
in three distinct areas: (1) social integration of people with physical disabilities,
with an emphasis on postsecondary education, (2) sleep and insomnia, and (3)
sexual adjustment and functioning. I am particularly lucky because my research
areas correspond to the courses I teach: Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology,
and the Psychology of Sexual Behaviour. So my research and my teaching complement
and enrich one another, and are always in harmony.
This also helps with involving
my Cegep students in my work. As have many of you, I, too have worked on research
with both Cegep and university students. It never ceases to amaze me to what
extent native smarts and enthusiasm can offset Cegep students' lack of expertise
and experience with research!
Recognising the accomplishments
of others in furthering my research objectives has always been a plus, and I
have published and presented with my own students - both while they were at
Dawson as well as afterwards - with my Dawson colleagues - both faculty and
professionals - as well as with colleagues from other institutions.
Research at a Cegep is exciting,
but also quite arduous. For example, I am currently a member of an FCAR team
that spans Université Laval, Université de Montréal, and
Université du Québec à Trois Rivières. I have also
been part of the research team of the Jewish General Hospital's Behaviour and
Sex Therapy Service for many, many years, and, in this context, have worked
with colleagues from Concordia University. I have also been really fortunate
to have a longstanding affiliation with McGill University's Psychiatry Department
and to have a very productive collaboration with a McGill University statistician.
I am also a principal investigator
in a SSHRC-funded Canada wide research network (EvNet), and its Québec
component (QuEvNet) - which includes both a Dawson colleague as well as Education
Technology faculty from Concordia University.
Israel. The Internet
has also been a terrific stimulus and tool for me, as it has allowed me to forge
collaborative research with psychologists in Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
We work on sleep, insomnia, and aging and exchange data sets as attachments
in e-mail. We are currently writing a paper together, and we have already had
two joint conference presentations. We will make another joint conference presentation
in Dublin in July.
Australia. I am also
involved in a series of collaborative studies with a scientist at the University
of Sydney in Australia. We have already presented a paper on disabilities jointly,
and the principal Australian team member will be coming to Ottawa next week,
when we plan to get together to refine our plans.
Japan. I have a third,
very exiting - but rather scary - collaboration with a psychologist at Keio
University in Japan. This is very exiting, because Japan's way of dealing with
people with disabilities is very different from the European or North American
models. But it is also very scary, because this time it is I who will be going
to Tokyo in July to make a series of presentations.
MY RESEARCH BENEFITS DAWSON
COLLEAGUES AS WELL AS DAWSON STUDENTS WHO ARE NOT "MY" STUDENTS
As you may have gathered,
I do a lot of research. I firmly believe that as a teacher, one should practice
one's craft and ply one's trade. In psychology, this means doing research and
being engaged in clinical practice.
In a discipline where course
content is based on research conducted by psychologists, it is helpful to use
one's own work as a vehicle for teaching scientific method. Because I do research,
I have been able to incorporate descriptions of my studies as concrete examples
of how research is done and how knowledge develops in the field. This helps
students to better understand abstract concepts and allows them to relate to
the course material on a more personal level. In fact, my work is cited in several
Because I am a teacher as
well as someone who does research on students with physical disabilities, I
am frequently consulted by members of the college concerning integration issues.
Indeed, an instructional guide, which I and my team developed at Dawson College,
is routinely sent to all teachers who have a student with a disability in their
class. Because of my expertise in this area, I also serve on the Dawson Task
Force on Services for Students with Disabilities. There is nothing like a bunch
of data - facts - to help in decision making when opinion is split. In this
regard, I have written numerous articles intended for teachers and for student
services professionals in postsecondary education. These have appeared in mainstream
education journals as well as in local publications in both English and French
(e.g., Factuel, Ensemble, Prospectives, La Psychologie et Son Enseignement).
MY RESEARCH PROMOTES DAWSON'S
IMAGE AS AN ACADEMIC INSTITUTION.
I think research is fun,
and I am involved with many of the scholarly activities in the international
scientific community. I review for numerous journals and I am on the Editorial
Boards of several. I serve on conference planning committees, and was involved
in planning this Colloque of ARC. I also serve as an external examiner for master's
and Ph.D. theses.
I am also a firm believer
in publishing my findings. What's the good of answering all of those exciting
research questions, and collecting all that data if the only one to know the
answers is me? So I present and publish my findings in both the scientific and
in the popular press. I have written more than 100 journal articles and book
chapters and have made many, many conference presentations. I have written several
magazine and newsletter articles and my work has been reported in major newspapers,
such as the Gazette. I have been interviewed on radio talk shows, and my work
has been the subject of several magazine articles. My research on insomnia was
the focus of a recent article in the French science magazine published by ACFAS:
I am proud to work at Dawson
and grateful to the College for the support that I have received over the years.
I have publicly thanked the College in several articles, both acknowledging
the College's support of research and praising our innovative approach to the
integration of college students with disabilities. Needless to say, along with
my own, Dawson's name appears on my publications.
This conveys the message
that Dawson College is an institution of higher learning which not only provides
high quality postsecondary education but also values scientific achievement,
promotes scholarly activities, and contributes to the construction and dissemination
Unfortunately, there are
only 24 hours in a day! This brings me to my final point - the issue of release
time! Several of you have asked me how do I do all this... how much released
time do I have for research? The answer for the 1996-97 academic year is that
I had .375 release — approximately 1/3. In my case, this means release from
3 of my 8 courses. This is substantially less than at any time in the past 15
years. Needless to say, I have been very, very busy.
This issue of released time
is very troubling, both at my college as well as across the Cegep network. With
a limited and ever shrinking pool of released time, researchers have been pitted
against each other, vying for what little released time remains. Add to this
some historical divisions based on discipline rivalries and on traditional divisions
among fundamental, technological and pedagogical researchers, and we have a
potential nightmare, where researchers are fighting other researchers for ever
smaller pieces of the pie.
If we continue to fight
each other, we will all lose! We must recognise that we are
all in this together - that we have more commonalities than differences. It
is vital that we understand that if we are not be become extinct, we must
learn to cooperate and to collaborate with each other.
give the research enterprise glamour and "cachet." This is science with a capital
"S," collaboration with university teams and colleagues, and publications in
top rated peer reviewed journals. Fundamental research brings with it the appeal
of international collaboration and a link with the larger world of science.
Technological research promotes
advances in an area much needed in the Québec economy — applied science,
invention, and technological accomplishment. Technological researchers are involved
with advances in the world of science now, rather than in the future. Their
research is relevant to the training of applied researchers and future practitioners
— individuals sorely needed in the Québec workplace.
in the Cegeps are in the business of making sure that educational innovations
do not by pass this unique level of postsecondary instruction. Neither high
school nor university — the Cegep is unique! Our pedagogical needs and concerns,
our populations, curricula, and objectives are atypical in North America. It
is vital that pedagogical research that is relevant to the Cegeps go on. Needless
to say, this is best done in the Cegeps!
The current buzzwords in
research are "multisectorial and pluridisciplinary team projects with partnerships
and geographical diversity". In particular, partnerships with industry and the
private sector are encouraged, as are collaborations from different geographical
We Cegep researchers have
succeeded against formidable odds in the past. We have been pioneers. We have
learned how to make precedents and have experience in organising and executing
sophisticated, multi-layered projects. We have forged important links and have
persevered in the face of formidable odds. Survival as a researcher in a Cegep
is not an easy task - nor is it an activity for the fainthearted.
So, In the current era of
"coupures" we must all, once again, regroup and exercise the creativity that
has made us pursue a career in science. As fundamental, technological and pedagogical
researchers we must celebrate our accomplishments, explore our common goals
and resources, and collaborate and cooperate to maximise our potential!
do this to survive. To this end, I urge you to use the opportunity of this Colloque
to get to know researchers from other areas, regions and fields. Work hard at
overcoming discipline, geographic, and linguistic barriers. Learn to love technology.
Get together with others, both formally and informally. Form partnerships with
each other and with people and organisations from other milieus. There is power
in diversity and strength in numbers. Publicise your accomplishments and become
a spokesperson for the importance of research in the Cegeps. Get involved and
advocate for needed changes. It's your future, after all. Go for it!
Enjoy the conference!