Graduation Education Innovation Fund Winners


The Graduate Education Innovation Fund (GEIF) contributes to the mission of School of Graduate Studies, by fostering excellence in graduate education, including an exceptional student experience. The purpose the GEIF is to enrich the learning experience of graduate students in both our research-based and professional degree programmes, by supporting projects within and across academic divisions and units, that create positive, innovative changes in the design and delivery of graduate education at the University of Toronto.

This three-year pilot project was launched in Fall 2021. A review process will ensue to ensure that the initiative meets its goals. Learn more and apply.  

Read further to learn about the winning applications from previous cycles.

Previous Winners

Year / MonthProject TitleApplicant(s)FacultyDepartment(s)Lay Summary
2022 / 11Faculty and Students in Conversation: A collaborative model for anti-oppression pedagogy and practices in higher educationYiola CleovoulouOntario Institute for Studies in EducationDepartment of Applied Psychology and Human DevelopmentFaculty and Students in Conversation is a student-driven model involving a series of events for collaborative engagement of brave conversations about anti-oppression and equity practices between faculty and graduate students. The purpose is to deepen faculty and student understanding of the complexities of anti-oppression work in higher education. This model advances understanding of student experiences that will contribute to creating relevant and actionable items for improving equity pedagogy and practices. The model is grounded in community, care, and trust. Its innovation lies in the move away from typical town hall processes and centres collaboration and understanding as its goals. The model is one that graduate programs can adopt for improved equity implementation. The Graduate Education Innovation Fund (GEIF) is an ideal opportunity to engage faculty and students in the process for contributing to program improvement.

The inaugural Child Study in Education program “Conversation” began in August 2022, with over 60 program community members, including 45 graduate students and 15 faculty members and received positive feedback from both faculty and graduate students. We are looking for funding to support work related to documentation, design, and dissemination of the model with other programs. A team of students and faculty will work with Professor Yiola Cleovoulou to systematize the model and create a template to be used broadly across university programs.
2022 / 11PT Games: Physical Therapy Gaming Applications for Motivating and Engaging StudentsSharon Gabison, Jaimie Coleman, Sonya AllinFaculty of MedicineDepartment of Physical TherapyComputer-based simulation is an emerging technology in health professional education enabling students to practice procedural skills while reducing equipment and human resource needs. Our team is developing computer-based simulations (“PTGames”) to teach Physical Therapy students the skills required for accreditation (e.g. supplemental oxygen administration and titration and the application of electrophysical agents). To date, a selection of desktop narrative and video based simulations have been developed. Each simulation walks a student user through the process of making clinical decisions on a simulated patient. Development has been championed by physical therapy trainees working in concert with computer science students and under the guidance of interdisciplinary faculty. Games have been built using a variety of technologies (Javascript, H5P, Unity). A selection of the games are actively in use within Quercus course shells.

The goal of this proposal will be to extend this work with the help of an industry partner, SilicoLabs, a Toronto based software development company that markets robust tools to create Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and desktop simulations of clinical tasks. Our collaborations will enable us to translate our existing desktop simulations (oxygen titration and shockwave therapy) into immersive AR games while integrating usability and learning outcome analytics. Additionally, we will pilot test the immersive AR games. 
2022 / 11A Quality Improvement Community of Practice for Health Profession Graduate StudentsCertina Ho, Annie Yao, Eulaine Ma,Faculty of PharmacyDepartment of Pharmaceutical SciencesThis project is a collaboration between the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, the Department of Psychiatry, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE/UT). Subject matter experts from OISE/UT, including Dr. Jim Hewitt, has kindly offered their expertise to help make PeppeR the online solution or technological innovation for the Quality Improvement Community of Practice (QI CoP). PeppeR is a web-based collaborative workspace where health profession graduate students and healthcare professionals (HCPs) can engage in interdisciplinary inquiry, professional development, and exchange ideas and experiences. PeppeR offers a variety of knowledge building features and social networking tools that support graduate students and HCPs to share information, identify key ideas, and work collaboratively to improve those ideas.

This virtual QI CoP is a very exciting Graduate Education Innovation (GEI) that will provide an opportunity for peer learning and shared resources for graduate students in psychiatry, pharmacy, and other health profession graduate studies. This project is aligned with three GEIF themes – Interdisciplinary Learning, Technological Innovation, and Professional Development. The integration of the virtual QI CoP in graduate studies will allow more interdisciplinary learning opportunities for health profession graduate students and HCPs. It may also serve as a potential continuing professional development resource going forward.
2022 / 11Fostering Long-Lasting Career Development Opportunities through the Summer Psychology Research Initiative (SPRINT)Elizabeth Page-GouldFaculty of Arts and ScienceDepartment of PsychologyThe University of Toronto (UofT) Summer Psychology Research Initiative (SPRINT) is a two-week research training program for high-school students from underrepresented racial groups organized entirely by graduate students passionate about fostering an inclusive and anti-racist environment for learning and mentorship. Through the SPRINT outreach program, graduate students act as research mentors and lecturers to a large group of high-school students who may not have access to psychology research training. With SPRINT, graduate students will learn and develop teaching and mentorship philosophies informed by anti-oppression and anti-colonial perspectives when advising students from communities that are historically underrepresented in psychology research, providing an opportunity that is severely lacking in our current graduate training. SPRINT provides an avenue to grow and train a community of graduate students with the experience to teach and mentor the next generation of academics with perspectives rooted in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

Now, we are seeking funding to further expand our program and create new training opportunities throughout the year with tools, resources, and workshops that will support graduate students as they develop their teaching and mentorship practices in a manner that best serves the needs of historically underrepresented communities.
2022 / 11Rethinking Computational Education: an Active and Experiential Learning Approach that Blends Theory, Coding and Real ApplicationsPiero TriverioFaculty of Applied Science & EngineeringDepartment of Electrical & Computer EngineeringComputational thinking has become a critical skill for graduates in engineering, in science, and also in the humanities. To be taught effectively, computational skills require integrating theory, coding, and applications into every lecture. Due to technical and logistic reasons, the current reality is very different. Theory is covered in classrooms, with students performing coding experiments afterwards, in a computer lab. Furthermore, programming languages that work well for education, like Python, do not scale well to real-world applications.

We propose a new paradigm that blends theory, coding, and real-life applications. The instructor will begin lectures on a Jupyter notebook, a new software where one can include all the three key elements of computational science: text, formulas and code snippets that can be run live in the class. Through online access to the same notebook, students will be able to immediately tinker with the new concepts, and then take over and “own” the learning progress by solving, on the notebook, a series of problems in an active and experiential fashion. We will use Julia, a revolutionary programming language that is both suitable for education but can also attain high performance. With Julia, students will be able to apply their codes to real-world problems, drawn from the multi-year collaboration of the applicant with Advanced Micro Devices on the computational modeling of  integrated circuits. 
2022 / 04Virtual Reality: An innovative pedagogy for health care studentsAndrea Duncan, Emily Ho, Behdin Nowrouzi-KiaFaculty of MedicineOccupational Science and Occupational TherapyVirtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated experience in which a user is immersed in a simulated environment with the ability to interact and manipulate their surroundings. Despite the increasing interest in VR as a teaching tool, we currently do not have a strong foundation to understand the impact of VR within post-secondary education. Within medical education we have observed some promising applications of VR, however the mechanisms of how VR improves the learning experience when compared to traditional learning are still not well understood.

The objectives of this innovative pilot project are to: a) acquire and create VR experiential learning modules, b) pilot these modules with students and explore their perceptions of VR as a teaching tool and c) develop plans for a larger evaluation.

This pilot project is an ideal opportunity for the Graduate Education Innovation Fund; however, the larger impacts and outcomes include technology purchases that can be used for other teaching innovations, an informed understanding of how to roll out VR as a teaching tool and development of a broader evaluation.”
2022 / 04Project Management and Consulting Skills Module for International Virtual Engineering Student TeamsMarzi MarziFaculty of Applied Science & EngineeringMechanical & Industrial EngineeringEngineering students require global and professional competencies to help prepare them to work in an increasingly culturally diverse, complex, and interconnected global economy. Through the International Virtual Engineering Student Teams (InVEST) Initiative projects and modules, we are working to enhance international awareness and cultural sensitivities of engineering students while equipping them with professional skills to enhance their employability.

The initiative enables students at UofT to partner with students from international institutions to work on engineering design projects, interact with peers and build global perspectives. Each team comprised students from multiple countries, faculty, and engineering firms. Students’ understanding of professional skills and intercultural competence is assessed before and after the program to determine the impact of our program on their understanding of intercultural values and global virtual team collaboration.

We have found that blending professional skills and intercultural content with global projects is a successful strategy for helping students develop these essential competencies, in addition to engineering knowledge and global team collaboration experiences. To date, we have established 20 projects with over 11 Universities, and over 20 faculty advisors, and 42 students. We are looking to gain support from GEIF to expand our program and add two modules on Project Management and Consulting competencies.
2022 / 04Experiential Hands-on Training in Islamic Manuscript StudiesJeanne Miller, Ruba Kana’an, Walid Saleh, Maria SubtelnyFaculty of Arts & ScienceNear & Middle Eastern CivilizationsWe seek GEIF funding for a 3-day series of workshops at three major Toronto Islamic manuscripts collections, to train graduate students in Islamic codicology. This is a trial run for planning a regular week-long Islamic codicology “short course” every two years, in collaboration with the Fisher Rare Books Library at University of Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum (AKM), and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).

Codicology is a core skill in Islamic Studies and should be part of the regular training of graduate students, but it is rarely taught and remains under-researched. Dramatic recent expansions in Toronto-based Islamic manuscript collections make Toronto for the first time a viable site for Islamic codicology training.

We propose to use GEIF funding to bring in Evyn Kropf, Librarian for Middle Eastern & North African Studies and Religious Studies and Curator of the Islamic Manuscripts Collection at the University of Michigan Library. She is a well-published specialist in Islamic codicology who regularly teaches “short courses.” She will assess the three collections to help us push forward our “short course” plan, while directing the three codicology workshops for our current students as a trial run.
2022 / 04A pilot micro-credential in the DPES MEnvSc Program: Indigenous perspectives in environmental sciencesKaren Smith, David McLagan, Stuart Livingstone, Elyse Caron-BeaudoinUniversity of Toronto at ScarboroughPhysical & Environmental SciencesWe aim to redevelop the core seminar course (EES1100) of UTSC’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences’ (DPES) Professional Master of Environmental Science program to align more strategically with the critical professional competencies required by professionals working across the varied fields of Environmental Sciences. The course will be transformed into a suite of latticed micro-credentials that directly address these targeted competencies in order to better prepare students for the work-place, benefitting graduates and industry partners alike.

The vanguard of this program will be a micro-credential that addresses issues of Indigenous Sovereignty, environmental governance, and knowledge-valuing into practices in environmental sciences and management. We propose to explore and co-develop the structure and teachings of this micro-credential in the broad areas of: (i) recognizing Indigenous Peoples as key environmental rights and title holders by respecting Indigenous sovereignty and environmental stewardship, and (ii) more effectively acknowledging Indigenous Knowledges in quantitative environmental science and the environmental impact assessment process.

This micro-credential course will provide students with essential training on Indigenous environmental perspectives and improve the awareness of the next generation of
environmental scientists and managers of the critical role of Indigenous stewardship in guiding societies’ progress towards sustainability.
2022 / 04Reimagining the Graduate Student Handbook: A template to support graduate-level equity, diversity, and inclusion by prioritizing transparency, relationality, and demystification in a key document of graduate student life.Zoe WoolFaculty of Arts & SciencePsychologyA department’s graduate student handbook is a key document of graduate student life. As such, it has an important role to play in either maintaining practices of exclusion within the academy, or creating meaningful inclusion for students from groups traditionally marginalized with, or excluded from, a given field.

This project extends speculative work created in the graduate class “Anthropology Beyond White Supremacy” to develop an annotated graduate student handbook template that allows these handbooks to enact principles of transparency, relationality, and demystification–three principles the class identified as central to moving beyond white supremacist forms of knowledge and institutional reproduction.

The team of students will work with Professor Zoë Wool to create both a revised version of the Department of Anthropology’s Graduate Student Handbook, as well as a template that can be broadly used across the social sciences and humanities.
2021 / 10The MedGenIDP – A Web-based IDP Tool for Non-PhD StudentsErin Styles, Johanna Carroll, Matina Steiner, Nana LeeFaculty of MedicineMolecular GeneticsHow do I secure a job after graduation? This question is an important consideration for all graduate students. Finding a satisfying career that makes good use of skills and aligns with interests and personal values can be challenging, but the process can be streamlined by using an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

IDPs are very popular for PhD-level graduate students and post-doctoral trainees, and there are several excellent online platforms for generating personalized IDPs. However, none of these existing tools are  appropriate for non-PhD-stream graduate students, since most of the suggested careers require a PhD.

This project proposes expanding and improve an existing paper-based IDP tool called the MedGenIDP, developed for a group of graduate students in a professional Master’s of Health Science program in Medical Genomics. We propose to build an interactive, online IDP platform to enhance graduate professional development for these students. By helping students identify a clear career trajectory, the MedGenIDP will allow students to focus their graduate training and professional development, resulting in increased program satisfaction, and potentially a reduced time to employment after graduation.

This project represents a significant opportunity for the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the School of Graduate Studies – we anticipate that this pilot project can be used as a template to design comprehensive IDP platforms for many other non-PhD-level graduate programs.
2021 / 10The Sound LabRebecca Woods, Auguste Nahas, Tamara Walker, Edward Jones-ImhotepFaculty of Arts & ScienceInstitute for the History & Philosophy of Science & TechnologyThis project seeks to build a “sound lab” designed to provide students with the opportunity for the creative communication of research to a broad public within and beyond the University. By training students in audio-based media such as podcasting, audio documentaries and experimental sound recording, the Sound Lab will provide the resources for sound-based learning and research inside and outside the classroom, and allow students to disseminate their work to make an impact outside of academia.

Through a range of programs within and beyond the formal classroom, students involved in the Sound Lab gain experience with the basics of sound recording and audio editing, allowing for the recording and dissemination of talks, events, and the production of podcasts. The lab also intends to foster creative, student-run initiatives to experiment with other creative sonic presentations of their research interests.

A joint project with the Department of History, in its pilot phase the Sound Lab will be housed primarily at the IHPST, with plans to expand into graduate pedagogy in History, and to build collaborative projects with other efforts internationally (e.g. Climate-Change Storytelling initiative).
2021 / 10Social media to enhance research productivity and impactLydia Wilkinson, Alison McGuiganFaculty of Applied Science & EngineeringChemical Engineering & Applied ChemistryResearch and innovation to solve global problems relies on interdisciplinary teams. Effective teams are built by establishing networks where community members interact to identify additional collaborators that can provide complementary expertise and receive feedback to refine their research ideas.

Social media has transformed our capacity to access diverse and international networks to increase the impact of research and innovation and establish an international research brand. Effective scientific networking on social media is built on accessible, impactful communication that connects people from disparate communities. Strategic communication through social media should not just report a final product but is central to the research and innovation process. Yet currently graduate students are not trained to leverage social media to build research teams, obtain feedback on research ideas, and maximize the impact of their research. This training is not only important during their graduate degree; it will be critical when they enter the workplace as the next generation of Canadian leaders.

We propose to: assess the social media strategies graduate students use; deliver a pilot workshop on social media for research; define social media learning objectives; and develop a plan to deliver these learning objectives. Through this process we will create a unique training experience that enables our graduate students to embrace social media as a strategic research and innovation tool.
2021 / 10Research toolkits for multiculturalism and diversity research in a multidisciplinary contextSherry YuFaculty of InformationInformationWhile multiculturalism is an everyday reality in Canada, there are limited opportunities for students to give deeper thought to this subject in terms of how their daily experiences are debated through multiculturalism theories, let alone how (or how much) diversity is researched or practiced in their own field of study or professional fields.

The iSchool’s ‘INF2319 Critical Approaches to Multiculturalism, Media, and Social Integration’ provides students with the opportunity to explore multiculturalism in their own fields of study. A challenge in doing so, however, is the great diversity of concentrations within the iSchool’s programs from which students enroll in the course, as the conceptualization and evaluation of knowledge is known to differ by disciplines (Kolb, 1981). Therefore, this project aims to develop concentration-specific research toolkits and provide students with a discipline-specific space to research multiculturalism.

The toolkits will consist of 1) a set of research inquiries raised in the field, and 2) a set of materials that helps explore those inquiries, with a focus on how diverse cultural perspectives are considered in their field as an effort to respond to decolonization, anti-oppression, and anti-racism. The toolkits will also be highly scalable and transferrable to other courses within the iSchool for instructors who understand the significance of multicultural education and seek pedagogical approaches to incorporate in their course design.
2021 / 10Summer Psychology Research Initiative (SPRINT)Elizabeth Page-Gould, Jennifer Chan, Sagana Vijarajah, Bryan Hong, Logan Doyle, Alexa Sacchi, Alexandra SamsonFaculty of Arts & ScienceAnthropologyThe Summer Psychology Research Initiative (SPRINT) is a two-week program created and run by graduate students as part of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative through the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto (UofT). SPRINT is a high school outreach program that provides graduate students the opportunity to develop teaching resources and deliver lectures in their field of study. In addition, the SPRINT program presents graduate students with structured leadership experience as they mentor a group of high school students in the creation of their own original research project proposal. This program offers the rare opportunity to provide graduate students with valuable skill development and experience for their CV while simultaneously supporting students from groups that are typically underrepresented in Psychology at UofT.

The inaugural SPRINT was run online between July 19-30, 2021, with 25 high school students led by a volunteer team of over 30 UofT undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral research fellows, and faculty members. The program received positive feedback from both high school and graduate student participants. Given the program’s initial success, we are looking for funding to expand by including more high school students and adapting the program to be run in-person. These changes will require the recruitment of many more graduate students and longer training sessions on the development of teaching materials. Additionally, these changes will lay the groundwork for future programs in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto that are specifically geared towards underrepresented communities.
Graduation Education Innovation Fund Winners since Fall 2021.