Okanagan School of Education

Email: education.ubco@ubc.ca


Students have a new resource with the Oxford University Press release of Academic Inquiry: Writing for Post-secondary Success, by the Faculty of Education’s Dr. Scott Douglas.

In Academic Inquiry, Douglas uses authentic undergraduate content, including business, engineering, and health sciences, to guide and inspire student’s writing.  Each unit is theme-based and teaches one essential rhetorical structure. The hands-on practice provides support for cultivating writing skills that empower students to develop individualized inquiry to their learning.

“At the heart of Academic Inquiry is the belief that empowering learners is the best way to set them up for success,” says Jason Tomassini of  Oxford University Press. “Working closely with Scott on Academic Inquiry has been such a pleasure. I think his approach to writing very much reflects his passion for teaching and his respect for students.”

Academic Inquiry encourages students to explore their own academic interest as they cultivate their writing skills. Each unit breaks down the writing process into “manageable chunks from brainstorming ideas to proofreading final drafts.”

Douglas says,“For several years I’ve been researching the relationship between vocabulary and academic writing at the post-secondary level. This book, targeted at new undergraduate students from non-English speaking backgrounds, is one of the outcomes of that research in that it combines a strong productive vocabulary element with a student-centred approach to writing instruction.”

Douglas’s experience teaching English as an Additional Language (EAL), and his extensive research, has flown him around the world to work with language learners from the Middle East to Asia.

He is an active member of the Association of British Columbia Teachers of English as an Additional Language (BC TEAL) and sits on the board of directors for the Teachers of English as a Second Language Canada Federation.

Douglas, author of numerous research publications including Education Outcomes of English Language Learners at University, is co-author of Q: Skills for Success Reading and Writing.

Academic Inquiry: Writing for Post-secondary Success at Amazon.ca

Learn more about Academic Inquiry: Writing for Post-secondary Success at Oxford University Press.

Scott Douglas’s publications and blog.


The Faculty of Education welcomes Rev. Dr. Philip Raymont.

What: What are universities for?
Who: Rev. Dr. Philip Raymont
When: Thursday, October 3,  3- 4:30 p.m.
Where: 247 Science Building, UBC’s Okanagan campus, Kelowna

What: Teaching Religion in Schools
Who: Rev. Dr. Philip Raymont
When: Tuesday, October 8,  3- 4:30 p.m.
Where: Centre for Mindful Engagement (EME3124),  UBC’s Okanagan campus, Kelowna

Join Rev. Dr. Raymont, UBC’s Okanagan campus distinguished visiting scholar, as he discusses teaching religion in education. Dr. Raymont will present in two lectures: What are Universities for? and Teaching Religion in Schools. The Faculty of Education encourages the public to come listen to Raymont and participate in the workshop-style lecture, held in the Centre for Mindful Engagement.

The Rev’d Dr Philip Raymont is Senior Chaplain, Guildford Grammar School, a private school in Perth, Australia. Prior to his appointment at the school, Philip was a Lecturer and Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Following the completion of his doctorate —“An Analysis of the Significance of Halls of Residence in the British Civic University during the Late-nineteenth and Early-twentieth centuries” —Raymont taught in Cambridge’s Faculty of Education.


Green: ‘I want the award to go to students who understand what it means to get in touch with that wild place in your soul’

Vicki Green Graduate Award winner Angela Finley (pictured at left with the award’s namesake) received a financial award, guided outdoor fly fishing adventure package, and fly rod, reel and line set.

The Education Faculty Awards Committee recently caught the winner of the second annual Vicki Green Graduate Award.

Graduate student Angela Finley’s research was chosen on the basis of how it will encourage an interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability for children, youth, and teachers.

Finley’s research investigates “positive global solutions, in constructive and meaningful ways,” she says, by merging sustainability ideas from around the world to create local solutions. Her passion for learning and sharing knowledge motivated her to begin a career in education.

Her previous work, as an organic gardener, created awareness for the need for education in sustainable practices. “The possibilities are quite limitless if we’re willing to keep our minds open,” she says.

Associate Professor Vicki Green is pleased to see her award go to Finley.

“Angela’s interdisciplinary work, including her background as a professional gardener, creates a vision to design sustainable, educational and ecological school models,” says Green. “Angela believes a connection to nature and living systems fosters a sense of belonging.”

Green created the award in 2012 by endowing $50,000 to UBC’s Okanagan campus. The annual scholarship was created for a Faculty of Education graduate student conducting research in social, cultural, political, environmental, or economic sustainability.

In additional to the financial award of $1,700, Finley receives a fly rod, reel, and line from UBC’s Development and Alumni Engagement Office, and a guided outdoor fly fishing adventure package, courtesy of Trout Waters Fly & Tackle and Douglas Lake Ranch; and, a one year subscription to  Fly Fusion Magazine,  courtesy of the magazine.

While Finley has never fly-fished before, she’s excited about the new experience and the opportunity to learn something new. “The award really puts the idea of sustainability and our relationship to nature back where it needs to be, at the very forefront,” she says.

In the summer of 2012, when the award was presented to its first recipient—Ben Louis, a master of education student—Green explained her motivation for the gift.

“The endowment was inspired by my passion for the outdoors and was created to advance an integrated understanding of our place in nature,” she said. “I want it to go to students who understand what it means to get in touch with that wild place in your soul. For me, when I fly fish, I come to that place. And when you are in that place, you are your most creative self.

“There is a circle of life you come to understand as a teacher—when a student comes to university he or she belongs to your present and you become part of their past. And the cycle of life is all within this sort of permanence of UBC. There is a sense of stability tied to this institution, and it inspires you to start thinking about the future. I wanted to create something to support students that would continue far into the future.

“Our campus has been though an amazing transformation over the last few years, and it’s very exciting to imagine where it will be 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.”


Dr. Susan Crichton, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, in collaboration with colleagues in East Africa, was awarded a grant from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, for her research in using technology to foster innovations in literacy.

Crichton is the Director of the Innovative Learning Centre (ILC), housed in the Faculty of Education. On August 28, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the International Development Research Centre announced that the selection committee for the Canada-Africa Research Exchange Grants program has approved a grant in the amount of $40,000 for the Crichton and colleagues’ project “Leapfrogging Pedagogical Challenges: Using Appropriate Technology to Foster Innovations in Literacy for the Knowledge Age.”

Crichton describes ‘leapfrogging’ as, “a term, in the context of sustainable development, which is used to describe the accelerated development of an intervention by ‘leaping over’ conventional approaches and moving directly towards more appropriate, and often more advanced ones.” Crichton references the often-cited example of when regions skip over the installation of landline telephony and move directly to mobile connectivity, leapfrogging the lack of phone access by embracing the newer, more appropriate mobile solution.

Crichton will partner with Dr. Lilian Vikiru, Assistant Professor at Aga Khan University in Tanzania —continuing a partnership, between Crichton and the Aga Khan University (AKU), which began in 2008.  Funding from this grant will be used to support a faculty exchange, bringing Dr. Vikiru to the Okanagan campus for a semester, and sending Crichton back to Tanzania to continue her work with the Institute for Educational Development (IED).

Director of the Innovative Learning Centre in the Faculty of Education

Associate Professor and Director of the Innovative Learning Centre in the Faculty of Education.

The grant will help fund a second Innovative Learning Centre at AKU, IED in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The Innovative Learning Centre (ILC) brings together academics, educators, and industry to imagine the future.  Specific to this grant is the fostering of innovative ways to develop learners’ multiple literacies through the exploration and adoption of appropriate technologies. The ILC explores innovative practices and technologies, embracing change, to foster new forms of knowledge building that are critical in an age characterized by substantial change and the ubiquitous access to information.

Vikiru and Crichton’s research strengthens the international research partnership, furthering the Faculty of Education’s international network, and building on the previous research my Crichton’s former doctoral student, Brown Onguko, a colleague of Viviru’s at IED,AKU.

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Former banker Walid Muslih decided ‘I want to be in the classroom’

It wasn’t long ago that Walid Muslih toiled in the high-rises of London and New York, a successful banker analyzing debt capital markets.

Working in the towers of big-city financial districts—suit and tie’d—his “exciting, always changing” career rode epic waves such as the global debt crisis.

One assumes he had it all, but in the back of this particular banker’s brain, Muslih was dreaming of something far different than sprawling Excel sheets and market analysis. He was dreaming of being a teacher.

Muslih grew up in a suburb of Vancouver. He says that despite being in a global city, his education fostered a small-town mentality that limited the jobs he considered.

He was good at math and made the logical choice to pursue engineering, which propelled him to New York for university. Bored by the engineering texts, Muslih changed directions and transferred into business. His decision landed him an internship with a leading financial institution. The rest is history—almost.

Muslih describes the balancing act of personal life and work in his quickly advancing career, adding that it is impossible to separate work from your personal life. “At the end of the day I knew it just wasn’t really me,” he says. “I knew that if I was to continue down that path, I would really have to be passionate about it—and I wasn’t.”

So Muslih asked himself: If I had all the money in the world, what would I do?

His answer: “I’m 35 years old and I want to be in a classroom.”

The banker in Muslih would not have taken this step haphazardly. He deliberated and evaluated the risk of a career change, and as the years passed he knew what he wanted to pursue.

“Last year I knew it was time to make a move.” And he did, relocating 7,372 km away, from London to the Okanagan. Today he’s completing his studies to become a secondary education teacher in the Faculty of Education’s Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP).

Muslih chose the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus for its calculable benefits: a one-year program that enables him “to see what my classroom will be like.”

Commending the integrative program and the opportunity to examine real-world cases as further confirmation of his decision to switch careers, he says the education at UBCO “makes me want to be in the classroom, to be there and make a difference.”

Described by his friends as a “source of positivity,” Muslih promises to share with students his inspirations: education and lifelong learning.

“Education helps people navigate the changing world,” he says.

Having navigated his way from London to the Okanagan, from banking to education, Muslih says now, at long last, he has it all.



Bourne and her team sought to invest in a Tanzanian community by creating school books in Swahili and English for a Tanzanian classroom, but the investment —to the Canadian classroom—is just getting started.  

PhD student Cindy Bourne, manager of the Learning Resources and Support team at UBC’s Okanagan Campus, and a member of Project G.R.O.W.

It is hard to imagine the petite woman with sun-kissed hair and trendy blue capris anywhere except in the Okanagan. The one clue that Cindy Bourne has been involved in international work on the other side of the world is a colourful Tanzanian bracelet.

Bourne is the manager of the Learning Resources and Support team at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and a member of Project G.R.O.W, a community development project in Ghana—all while she completes her PhD.

Bourne is conducting her PhD research on the development of policy and practice around sustainable and ethical international student experiences. She hopes to develop a model for application in student experiences abroad—a goal made especially relevant due to the rising popularity of the international experience as a component of undergraduate programs.

The push for international service means more students are heading abroad to volunteer, but as Bourne says, “If you are going to use the resources in an economically-challenged area, you best be there to do something of value.”  She hopes through her educational model to ensure the value of the experience belongs, first and only, to the community. Student experience is an added benefit.

Bourne’s passion for education is obvious as she discusses the systemic problems with “volun-tourism” and the lure for the exotic student experience.

Her resume is defined by education. She has pursued the scholarship of teaching and learning for the last 16 years. And she  just returned from Africa, where she was the teacher assistant who took seven teacher candidates completing their education degree requirements in the Guided Reflective Inquiry Project (GRIP), a program offered by the Faculty of Education.

An important part of the model, Bourne says, is the preparation before the trip to ensure it is sustainable and culturally relevant. While Bourne describes preparation for the GRIP experience as “double the work” for the teacher candidates—which included Swahili lessons beforehand—the level of readiness maximizes the positive impact on both the community and the teacher candidates.

The project in this experience was the development of culturally relevant books that addressed community literacy concerns. Bourne says that while the benefits to the community should be first priority, the impact on the students is very important.  The teacher candidates gained valuable insight and experience in watching a Tanzanian teacher “making learning happen with only one blackboard, chalk and 65 kids.”

The GRIP teacher candidates returned with an enriched perspective and left behind the three books they created in Swahili, with English translation.

Cindy Bourne‘s model will shape the future experiences of students abroad. But for now, you can find Bourne shaping the complex scheduling of the tutoring and Supplemental Learning programs.

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