Majority of UCN Courses Incorporate Indigenous Content
June 25, 2018
A total of 57.7% of students at University College of the North (UCN) reported that Indigenous content was integrated into their courses, according to responses received from UCN’s online student course evaluation system for the 2017/18 Academic Year. Additionally, 49.9% of students reported that their studies in 2017/18 added new knowledge to their understanding of Aboriginal cultures, suggesting a considerable value-added effect through UCN’s coursework.
“UCN has an important mandate to educate Indigenous Manitobans in the north, and the incorporation of Indigenous perspectives and worldviews in the curriculum is a critical part of achieving that mandate,” said Doug Lauvstad, UCN’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “UCN is proud of its continuing effort to ensure that Indigenous content and pedagogy form part of the curriculum in all courses and programs and does not relay on a single mandatory course offered just once during a student’s academic career.”
Results from the fall and winter terms showed that students in courses offered by the Kenanow (Cree for “all of us together”) Faculty of Education were most likely to indicate that their course included Indigenous content, with strong responses from students in health-related courses and those in arts courses.
Additionally, results increased in all course areas between the fall and winter terms in 2017/18. In addition to the content included in individual courses, UCN students also benefit from being exposed to Indigenous content through Waskawimakanwa Mecimwaci Isihtwawina (WMI), a Cree phrase meaning tradition and change. This two-day, one-credit course is a required part of every program at UCN.
“The results from the student course evaluations suggest that most students experience a significant amount of Indigenous content during their time studying at UCN,” said Dan Smith, Vice-President Academic and Research at UCN. “Our strategy to Indigenize the curriculum relies on a very strong commitment shown by UCN’s Learning Council, and by faculty members themselves, who are taking the lead to change what and how they teach to better reflect this important aspect of UCN’s mandate. These student course evaluation data help faculty members to understand how they’re doing, allowing for continuous improvement and create a venue for students themselves to share ideas as to how to better reflect Indigenous content and pedagogy in the curriculum.”
Students were asked how their courses could be changed to better incorporate Indigenous content. The three most frequent responses from students were: include Elders and other knowledgeable Indigenous speakers as guest lecturers in courses; incorporate more indigenous-focused course materials into the class; and, add more practical learning experiences as part of the coursework.
UCN enrolls approximately 2,300 students annually in adult learning, certificate, diploma and undergraduate degree programs in northern Manitoba, a geographic area with a population that is approximately 75% Indigenous. UCN’s enrolment includes more than 70% of students who identify as Indigenous. UCN has main campuses in The Pas and Thompson, located on Treaty No. 5 territory, and operates 12 regional centres in communities throughout the north, nine of which are located on First Nations.
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