Student-led seminar fills a gap in the curriculum

Transformative Learning | Strategy 15: Student Experience
Theme: Inclusion
UBC Okanagan psychology student Hoky Hsu leading a seminar.

Throughout his time at UBC Okanagan, psychology student Hoky Hsu sometimes felt “left out” of his course content. “I’ve always enjoyed learning about psychological topics like family processes and socioemotional development,” Hsu mentions. “However, as a psychology major, I grew to realize that the majority of psychological research and teaching at large are still often oriented around a western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic cis-heterosexual male perspective. What about the perspectives of other races and people of different sexual orientations?”

Armed with this knowledge and the passion to make a difference, Hsu applied for UBC Okanagan’s Student Directed Seminar (SDS). The program, offered in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, empowers students to propose, coordinate and lead their own three-credit seminar on a topic of their choosing that has been identified as a gap in the current curriculum.

Hsu proposed a class exploring the psychological experiences of the LGBTQ2SIAA+ community from an intersectional lens. Intersectionality refers to the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, class and other forms of discrimination intersect to create unique dynamics and effects.

According to Dr. Jessica Lougheed — an Assistant Professor in UBCO’s Department of Psychology and Hsu’s SDS faculty sponsor — courses in the social sciences, and especially psychology, tend to assign topics related to diversity to “a single week or a single chapter, where they get relegated to the sidelines of the course material. As an instructor, I’m always trying to include these topics in all my lectures while also looking to adequately represent various issues from queer perspectives.”

For Hsu, he points to another benefit of an SDS: learning through discussion with peers. “Our current educational structure often has a teacher talking to students while they hastily write their notes, and students are meant to absorb everything from that person. But I feel like there’s another way to learn things; I feel like student-to-student learning works because we’re peers. There’s less stress from students, combined with the fact that a seminar is about discussion rather than lecturing.”

“The SDS is a wonderful personal development opportunity for students looking to teach for the first time,” says Dr. Lougheed. “It provides them with a whole host of opportunities that could meaningfully translate into skills that are useful after graduation—whether that’s pursuing graduate studies, or entering teaching or another professional field.”

Please visit the UBC Okanagan news site to read the full story.

Through Strategy 15: Student Experience, we are creating opportunities for students to feel more engaged and better supported during their time at UBC—outside as well as inside the classroom, across all our campuses and learning sites.