In Conversation with Dr. Meng Xiao: Supporting Chinese International Students at the University of Toronto

In Conversation with Dr. Meng Xiao: Supporting Chinese International Students at the University of Toronto

Written By: Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Editor and Writer, Innovation Hub

At the Innovation Hub one of our projects focuses on engaging International students. International students currently make up 25.4% of the undergraduate and graduate student population at U of T.1 Questions around how the University of Toronto can support this group in the best ways possible and how their needs differ from domestic students is extremely important to the work that the Innovation Hub is engaged in, not to mention that, student engagement and a project by and for students is our bread and butter.

Photo of Dr. Meng Xiao in a library, looking to the camera and smilingMeng Xiao recently wrote a book titled Student Engagement in Practice: Chinese International Graduate Student Engagement Handbook which is a book inspired by her own doctoral research from OISE’s Doctorate of Education Program at the University of Toronto.  

Centering Hope, Action and Change for National Indigenous History Month at the Innovation Hub

Centering Hope, Action and Change for National Indigenous History Month at the Innovation Hub

Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Editor and Writer

Magnifying glass with a heart in the middle. Looking for hope and loveJune is National Indigenous History Month and The Innovation Hub wishes to celebrate this month and Day  (June 21st) by celebrating the lives of Indigenous communities and acknowledging the richness and diversity of Indigenous knowledge, histories, and world views.1

In recent years, our work with Indigenous Student Services (also known as First Nations House) has focused on engaging with spaces, services, and needs for Indigenous students on campus. Through these projects, we collaborated these spaces from 2018-2019 to foster spheres of community on campus. The Innovation Hub then explored the core needs of services that are needed on campus for Indigenous students to feel supported and engaged throughout their respective studies. It’s through these integral community partnerships and our design thinking processes and resources that we continually work to address realities that Indigenous lives, spaces, and communities face in a Canadian context (and beyond).

The Redefining Traditional Backstory: How Design Thinkers Created a Virtual Community of Student Parents and Supporters During COVID-19

The Redefining Traditional Backstory

How Design Thinkers Created a Virtual Community of Student Parents and Supporters During COVID-19

Redefining Traditional: Making Higher Education Family Friendly

By Celeste Pang, Sauliha Alli, Sanja Ivanov and Heather Watts

Design thinkers at the Innovation Hub share the backstory of the Redefining Traditional virtual community of student parents and their supporters.

Imagined Worlds

How Imagination Drives Innovation

By Darren Clift, Writer

It’s easy to exercise creativity during childhood, when imaginations are unrestrained. But as we grow up, we learn to leash our imaginations, to criticize our own creativity. The open parks of childhood become the closed spaces of our grown-up selves.

Design thinking seeks to re-liberate our creativity, but the forces and learned behaviours pushing against it are strong. To see how design leadership can nurture fresh ideas, I spoke to Gabriele Simmons, a Senior Project Assistant at the Innovation Hub.

Designing Better Empathy

Two hands reaching towards each other
Photograph by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

By Max Yaghchi, Writer

Can empathy be learned?

This question is central to the Innovation Hub’s methods. We use design thinking to take “a human-centred approach to solving problems,” and since the rise of empathic design in the late 1990s, designing for humans first has meant empathy.1

Lessons in Listening

Innovation Hub members practising their interviewing skills

By Anusha Arif, Writer

To design for students, we need to understand the student experience. Thus, the Innovation Hub prioritizes learning to listen—interviewing empathically and attuning ourselves to the world revealed through participants’ words. Though ‘listening’ is a basic skill, listening deeply is another art, and learning is an important part of the process. Some Innovation Hub members come with experience from anthropological, sociological, or other human-centred research, but many others are new to empathic interviewing. How does this learning process go for them? What do they find challenging and interesting?

View from the Inside: Shred Carefully

Continuing the View from the Inside series, we reflect on early weeks of the Design Thinking Experience Program, in which we discussed participant interviews and transcription.

In this post, we hear from Max Yaghchi, Writer. Max is a PharmD candidate volunteering with the Innovation Hub.

Innovation Hub team meeting

In September and early October, the Innovation Hub team was trained in participant interviewing, interview transcription, and participant de-identification. We want to generate data that will help us improve the student experience, while protecting participants from potential repercussions due to their involvement.

Gathering Student Voices on Mental Health

Kate Welsh, Design Research Team Lead, Mental Health Task Force

The cornerstone of our approach at the Innovation Hub is “students talking to other students.” We believe that peers relate to each other more openly and advocate for each other more strongly and that peer-based support both provides comfort and leads to change. This belief invigorates all our projects, including our upcoming partnership with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, in which we are leading student consultations to gather perspectives about mental health on campus. While I, as a staff member, am coordinating this project, students are co-leading the initiative with me.

Project Primer: Accessibility at Convocation

In the Project Primer series, we’ll be introducing the design projects our team members are tackling this summer. Stay turned to learn about our work in five different areas! First up: Accessibility at Convocation…

People gathering for ceremony at Convocation Hall

Written by Alex, Rhea Makund, Natasha Cuneo, and Kate Welsh

Did you attend your convocation? For increasing numbers of University of Toronto graduates, the answer is yes. In the past five years, the number of graduates participating in their convocation ceremony has risen by 20 %.

Thus, creating an inclusive community for graduating students is becoming increasingly important.