Judi Laprade & the FEAT team holding replica bones

Dr. Laprade is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Division of Anatomy where she has been faculty for the past six years.  She has degrees in Physical Education (BA from UWO), Physical Therapy (BScPT from Queens) and an MSc & PhD in Anatomy (Queen's).  She has previously instructed in Anatomy and Physical Therapy courses at Queen's University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University as well as the University of Toronto. Currently she is the course director for Anatomy for the Kinesiology and Dentistry Programs and contributes to the Medical curriculum.  Outside of the University she is a consultant and instructor of continuing education workshops for Osteoporosis Canada. 

Dr. Laprade is also the founder of the FEAT Program, initiated in the fall 2013. The program provides opportunities for year two Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) Students to act as Student Trainers and give feedback and guidance to year one KPE students on topics in anatomy. More specifically, the FEAT program was developed to create: a non-threatening environment in which the year one students can ask questions and work through processes & application with Student Trainer; an opportunity for year two students to develop their mentoring, group leadership, instructional and feedback skills; and a collaborative learning forum in which both year 1 & 2 students benefit from applying anatomy to real life Kinesiology examples.

In the nomination, the student states that, “FEAT creates a support-system to aid students in their transition to university-level academics and student leaders are readily available to offer advice and study strategies to excel in the course.” Could you tell us a bit more about how the program accomplishes this, and a how this aligns with the overall goals of the FEAT program?

Throughout the year we offer six two-hour FEAT sessions, which are scheduled to run in conjunction with their regularly planned laboratory sessions.  FEAT leaders are comprised (purposefully) of second-year KPE students and their intentional role is to offer mentorship, advice and guidance from their own experience the previous year, in the same course.  

The FEAT leaders meet with me at least twice a month to brainstorm what tasks and activities they will prepare to run for the first year students, which may be creative games, challenges, problem-solving tasks, practice tests etc., as well as to debrief the previous session.  My role is to share resources, both developed paper tasks and online materials/apps, ensure that the FEAT sessions have materials available for study, book the rooms, create the online sign-up, and offer guidance as to topical content.  In each year, the program has gone through an evolution and has improved based on the strengths of each subsequent year's FEAT leaders.

Discussions about health are often related to concerns about healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress and sleep. We’d be interested to hear from you, your thoughts on the concept of a healthy campus, and how a focus on wellness could be incorporated more broadly into the student experience?

I have been teaching university students for more than 20 years, and for the majority of those years, I have taught professional program students (second degree). About six years ago, I taught undergraduate students for the first time and it really became apparent to me that one of the most stressful things for students is learning university-level material properly. Often students spend an inordinate amount of time "studying" (reading textbooks, highlighting notes, re-writing notes, studying those notes...etc.,) without actually learning. This time cuts into sleep, exercise, and meals....and while many learn to be more effective in time, it is a hard transition in the early years of undergrad.
The most frequent question I get from students taking my course is how to study better and learn the content and often I can provide tips and hints of ways to improve study efficacy while saving time....but that only works for the small percentage who actually come to me for that discussion. Students do turn to their TAs for help and advice as well, but in my course, there are only 10 labs and much work to do in each, leaving little time to learn new study approaches.
In an effort to provide the opportunity for more students to get guidance, tips and hints and learn from their peers, in a non-threatening environment, I developed the FEAT program and each year more students have taken advantage of these sessions and appear to be benefiting from them.  

In the nomination, the student states that, “student leaders regularly post to the Facebook group with helpful videos and content to strengthen understanding of course content and help students develop study strategies for the course.”  Please let us know what this nomination as a Healthy Campus Champion means to you as the lead for the FEAT program? 

This nomination is a great honor - the fact that a first year student has taken the time to reflect upon their experience and felt that it met the criteria of helping support their learning and academic goals is extremely gratifying.  I am thrilled that the FEAT program has is making a difference in student's lives.

We would also be interested to hear if you have any suggestions about what more could be done to foster campus environments that support the wellbeing of students?

In discussions with other faculty teaching year one undergrad students, a common theme of students being overwhelmed with the transition to university is clear and students often fear asking for help or are not aware of help which is available to them when they are struggling.  I feel that more peer mentorship opportunities that focus on identifying where and when students need help would be one way to incorporate wellness into student life.