The BCcampus Research Fellows program provides support for B.C. post-secondary educators to conduct research on improving student learning and to share their results and experiences with peers in B.C. and beyond.

Project Members: Kyra Garson, Brad Harasymchuk, Alana Hoare, Yujie Jiang, Amie McLean, and Anila Virani.

Institution: Thompson Rivers University (TRU)

From left: Brad Harasymchuk, Yujie Jiang, Amie McLean, Anila Virani, Alana Hoare, and Kyra Garson.

Project Title: Exploring Students’ Sense of Belonging Through Experiences of Diversity and Inclusion: An In-Depth Analysis of Engagement, Barriers, and Impact Within a Canadian Postsecondary Institution

Research Focus: Canadian institutions have a responsibility to meaningfully respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, which make explicit and repeated calls related to intercultural development. This study aims to better understand students’ experiences of diversity, inclusion, and intercultural learning and to make recommendations for educational programming and inclusive learning environments.

Our research represents a collaborative effort across multiple units and is uniquely positioned within and overseen by a standing committee of the TRU Senate. By bringing together researchers and students from across the university, we aim to amplify students’ voices and to tell their stories of diversity and inclusion, with the hope that the findings can lead to actionable change. The study will involve an analysis of student responses to the National Survey of Student Engagement and internal student census data, along with students’ stories reflecting their perceptions of how and where they are engaged in intercultural learning; the impact of their experiences in terms of cognitive, affective, behavioural, and praxis-oriented outcomes; and what they perceive to be barriers to intercultural learning in post-secondary education. 

Biographies:

Kyra Garson is an intercultural coordinator at TRU. Her professional and service roles focus on enhancing intercultural understanding and inclusion through learning and teaching, institutional initiatives, and engagement. Her research interests include the impacts and outcomes of internationalization, intercultural learning, and critical and inclusive pedagogies. 

Brad Harasymchuk was born and raised on the Treaty 6 lands of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but is very privileged to currently live with his wife and kids in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (Kamloops, B.C.). He has taught in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions in Canada and New Zealand. At TRU, Brad worked as a learning strategist and experiential learning coordinator before moving over to the School of Education. Currently, Brad is an assistant teaching professor who enjoys working with teacher candidates on becoming the next generation of great teachers.

Alana Hoare is an assistant teaching professor in the School of Education at TRU. Her academic interests focus on ethical leadership and culturally responsive governance and planning in higher education—specifically, the role of cultures and epistemologies and their influence on educational systems. Previously, Alana taught English language learners and in elementary school. She also spent nearly a decade as a quality assurance scholar-practitioner and maintains a research program in this field.

Yujie Jiang is a second-year Master of Education student at TRU. She was a TRU intercultural ambassador (2022/23) and is currently a peer mentor ambassador (2023/24). She has been researching students’ sense of belonging through experiences of diversity and inclusion and has been a graduate research assistant since 2023.

Amie McLean is a sociologist, writer, educator, and parent whose academic interests are equity and social justice issues in Canadian post-secondary education and work. Her perspective is rooted in anti-racist, anti-colonial feminist thought, with an expanding focus on disability justice. As an intercultural coordinator at TRU, she works in a collaborative and pan-institutional capacity to educate, advocate, and work in the service of equity, inclusion, intercultural engagement, and (un)learning. 

Anila Virani is an assistant professor in the TRU School of Nursing. She has over 20 years of diverse experience in health care and research. Her research interests include exploring and incorporating technology in improving health and education.