Student projects will have positive impact on the City of London
April 19, 2023
Students in Psychology 3840 worked with the City of London's Waste Management Department to better understand waste infraction issues in student-dense neighborhoods. “Our students were committed to understanding a critical issue in the City of London, troubleshooting best solutions for this issue and, in turn, fostering a deeper sense of community,” says Dr. Wendy Ellis, Associate Professor of Psychology.
Each group worked on a different research survey to gather information that the City can use going forward. One was directed at students living in off-campus housing around Western and King’s, one was directed at permanent residents living in these neighborhoods and a third talked to other Ontario municipalities.
“Students were required to gather survey data and report main findings on a highly-relevant city issue,” says Dr. Ellis.
Students were able to apply course components to understand the logistics of creating user-friendly surveys, engaging the community and summarizing scientific data for a variety of audiences. They also learned to work together as a team to meet the objectives of our community partner.
“These three projects were very well designed and executed. I believe the City will have some excellent information to use for educational materials and making positive changes,” says. Dr. Ellis.
Dr. John Lyons, Lecturer in the School of MEM, and Dr. Joseph Turnbull, Associate Professor in the School of MEM were looking for a “real problem” for ADS 4293B to consider as a team project. “The intent of the course was to acknowledge that many important problems don’t connect easily with specific solution methods and frameworks learned in school. They require application of more fundamental skills in problem framing, diagnosis, solution development and implementation,” says Dr. Lyons.
In speaking with City staff, including Michelle Dellamora, Manager, Community Initiatives & Plans, responsible for the Age Friendly London Network (AFLN) and Bourhan Hasbini, Municipal Policy Specialist, the students set out to determine what information regarding ALFN would be helpful to senior citizens in the city.
A survey of approximately 100 seniors was conducted in six locations in London, to discern the level of awareness about AFLN as well as interest in specific services. The students presented their findings, with recommendations for future communications, outreach, and measurement of senior needs and wants in the community.
The project utilized the requirement of the first cohort of the Minor in Analytics and Decision Sciences (ADS), including courses in many technical areas of mathematics, economics, statistics, computing/analytics, but also in philosophy and psychology. “This project demanded appreciation of these various disciplines, and moreover, effort to work as a coherent group,” says Dr. Lyons.
The Psych 2990B class, led by Dr. Laura Rosen, Assistant Professor of Psychology, created short videos that can be used by the City of London’s Life Stabilization Division to educate their clients about employment service agencies. There has been a high rate of clients not participating in referrals to the agencies. The videos would help reduce stress and uncertainty, remove perceived barriers to accessing employment supports and increasing client confidence and participation.
This project was an opportunity for students to reflect on theories of behaviour change and affect positive change in the community.
While 56 students took part in the project, they worked in teams of four and five, each with one of the dozen employment agencies across London.
“I wanted to be sure that students each got an opportunity to apply their knowledge, develop a relationship with a community partner, and see their work make a difference,” says Dr. Rosen.
Dr. Rosen says that the students were “generally social justice minded, empathetic, and creative” which led to the successful completion of the project. I hope they gained an appreciation of the complexities of social issues in our community, and that it takes a diverse group of individuals and skills to start addressing those issues.”
The students working on all three projects will join others from London’s post-secondary institutions in presenting as part of the CityStudio Hubbub on April 20, 2023, at Innovation Works.