Though the task ahead seemed daunting, Jessica Gauvreau did her part to address complex poverty in Niagara, 10 seconds at a time.
Gauvreau and her classmates recently took part in an experiential education project in the Engaging the Sociological Imagination course (SOCI 4P00), which saw the St. Catharines native conduct a confidential interview with the leader of a local organization that received funding for the purpose of poverty reduction.
To ensure maximum accuracy in their transcribed document, Gauvreau and her partner, Jordan Sider, reviewed the recording from their 45-minute interview in 10-second increments.
“We wanted to make sure we got every word correct,” she said. “We knew we were representing Brock and that gave us a sense of ownership we haven’t felt with other assignments.”
The transcribed interviews the class conducted are part of Brock’s wider efforts to evaluate the impact of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) and will aid the University’s research team as it offers recommendations going forward.
“The research team was interested in learning about the outcomes of the funding over time,” said course instructor Mary-Beth Raddon, Associate Professor of Sociology. “The students have created a dataset of 22 in-depth interviews this year, a task that could not have easily been done by the research team.”
Along with assisting internal and external research efforts, Gauvreau said the project prepared her to pursue new roles in a career focused on advocacy.
“Any time I get to develop connections with people in the community who are advocating for others is very meaningful to me and helpful,” she said. “I really enjoyed the process, and this adds something new to my resumé.”
With Brock offering experiential exercises in all of its programs, Raddon said the opportunities provide new ways for students and instructors to interact.
“It’s exciting for me to see students sharing with each other what they learned and how they learned it,” she said. “That means the classroom becomes a collaborative space of learning and the instructor has to give up a little bit of control. The students are more autonomous in their learning, and that’s a skill that will help them in their careers as well.”
Gauvreau said the assignment has prepared the class to take their next steps after convocation this spring.
“I think the course helped us to develop into more well-rounded people,” she said. “Engaging in the community along with your academic abilities really prepares you for a real-world work experience.”
To learn more about Brock’s experiential education opportunities, visit the Experiential Education website.