MacEngaged is a classroom-to-community initiative inspired by a letter written by Dr. Patrick Deane (President and Vice-Chancellor of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) in 2011 titled Forward with Integrity that described his vision and mission for the University. In this letter, he challenged the McMaster community to take risks and find innovative ways to enhance its research and teaching practices, to provide service to others on campus and to connect with those beyond our immediate borders (locally, nationally, and internationally).
This website is administered by Dr. Ayesha Khan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour and the Life Sciences Program at McMaster University. If you wish to meet in person on McMaster University campus or via SKYPE, please organize a meeting through doodle.com/ayeshakhan.
The aim of MacEngaged is to motivate and guide post-secondary students to collaborate with their peers, propose and implement unique, achievable, and impactful projects using content learned in the classroom as a catalyst for civic service and engagement.
The instructor, teaching assistants, and student (peer) mentors. This initiative involves senior students (undergraduate or graduate level) who assist as peer mentors and serve as project consultants thus participating in their own form of community involvement by interacting with junior undergraduate students.
(Senior) peer-mentors are a great source of support to junior students. Each peer-mentor serves as the person of contact for weekly check-ins to ensure groups are keeping to task. These senior students serve as a major basis of accountability.
At the same time, mentors can help students brainstorm ideas and keep the moral high if/when motivation starts to wane mid-semester.
Yes! MacEngaged has been successfully integrated into a second year course (Psych 2NF3: Basic & Clinical Neuroscience) with an enrollment of 130 students in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour within the faculty of science at McMaster University.
The traditional model for organizing courses in a typical undergraduate setting, especially during the early academic years, is to segregate the semester into a series of tests and assignments, which are completed by the student in separation from his/her peers with the culmination of an individual final exam. This organization is useful since most undergraduate programs offer courses with large enrollments up until third year and the possibility to provide meaningful experiences outside of this format can be limited.
One major challenge with the above scheme is that students are often unable to interact with their peers (on a continuous basis) to brainstorm, innovate, and/or disentangle particular problems in their course of study. At the same time, Instructors are unable to create useful activities that can be administered in a manageable format that allow students to think creatively, participate in reflection of their academic experiences, and thus mature intellectually.
Collaborations between undergraduate students and those in the wider community (outside of the classroom and the University) are rare in a typical course setting. However, with recent announcements by Canadian Tri-Council Funding agencies such as SSHRC and CIHR regarding the merits of public outreach by academic institutions, community engagement at the undergraduate level is beginning to gain importance by many post-secondary institutions.
This website has been created for the Instructor who wants to incorporate an experiential-education exercise into his/her course curriculum. Navigate to the sections MacEngaged Template (One Semester) or MacEngaged Template (Two Semesters) to follow instructions and downloadable materials to make MacEngaged a success in your course!
You have complete freedom to use the ‘Engaged’ portion of this initiative and create a similar name at your own university or college.