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Education conference spotlights student research on caring in the classroom

The relationship between theory and practice in education was at the forefront of a conference held by the Education Graduate Students’ Society (EGSS) on March 21 and 22.

The EGSS’ 13th annual conference, called “Theory and Practice: A Symbiotic Relationship,” gave students and professors the opportunity to host events on their research and studies in the field of education.

One event featured Andrea Videtic, a PhD candidate in Education, who shared her research regarding the role of caring in teaching at a university level.

According to Videtic’s findings, as students get older, the mentor-mentee relationship changes, as teachers exhibit less care for their students. When teachers show what Videtic identifies as caring characteristics—such as being warm, open, supportive, and encouraging—notable changes could be observed in students.

“Kids see themselves as more capable, they feel more accepted, they work better, they are more motivated,” she said. “[One study which demonstrated that] students who are attached to their teachers actually got better math marks, because they thought their teachers liked them.”

However, Videtic said some professors are hesitant to be perceived as caring for their students.

“Professors are cautious about caring,” she said. “They see it as not being rigorous; they see it as not being robust.”

Using her theory, Videtic explained how professors could improve relationships with students.

“They can use the same attachment principle: they can be contingently responsive, be synchronistic, [and] emotionally available,” she said.

Kyle Hubbard, internal coordinator of the conference, explained that its goal was to bring people together who have a shared interest or background in education. This way, people contribute to the learning and sharing of information in the field and bridge the gap between theory and practice, making education more inclusive.

“[The conference] projects [students] are working on right now that they actually have results and data for,” Hubbard said. “[It’s] mostly research projects but also different assignments people have done in class where they had put a lot of work in.”

Additionally, the conference hosted keynote speakers, primarily professors from other universities across Canada who came to McGill to present their findings.

Overall, students’ impressions of the event were positive.

“[It was] really well organized and there were a lot of different topics,” Rebecca Chin, a master’s student in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said. “This is a primary good exposure to what is going on in the educational field in terms of research.”

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