DC receives funding for DSW research project

Durham College (DC) announced that its Office of Research Services and Innovation (ORSI) has been awarded $29,527 in research funding from the Ontario government through the Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund (OHCRIF).

The awarded funding is based on a proposal developed by Kay Corbier, principal investigator and professor with the School of Health & Community Services. One of 17 proposals selected, out of 94 submissions, the project will see Corbier, along with a team of DC faculty members, undertake a research project that seeks to introduce and evaluate the use of simulation as a teaching methodology  in the curriculum for the college’s Developmental Services Worker (DSW) program.

Titled The Experience of Simulation and the Perception of Preparedness of Developmental Service Worker Students to Practice in Field Placement Practicum, it will evaluate the perceptions of second-year DSW students at the beginning and end of their field placement to gauge the impact of simulated activities taught in a Personal Support Skills course in preparation for students to use those skills with clients.

“DSWs require a specific and unique set of skills to provide quality support to people with developmental disabilities,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, director, ORSI. “We are pleased to receive this funding which will enable us to determine the most effective way to teach our students those skills while enabling us to test simulation as a teaching tool that can be employed in DSW course work. All of this is in line with our commitment to fully prepare our graduates for future careers.”

With an overall objective to support research and innovation projects that identify ways to help people prepare for, return to or keep employment and become productive participants in the labour force, all OHCRIF-funded research and innovation projects must align with Ontario priorities.

In particular, one of Ontario’s research priorities for 2014-2015 is to investigate learning environments and teaching quality, which Corbier’s project seeks to address.

“Research in the pedagogy of learning applicable to the DSW field is scarce,” said Corbier. “Specifically, there is little research on the effectiveness of the use of simulation in teaching support skills in the developmental services field. We hope that by exploring simulation as an educational tool we can improve our teaching quality and advance our field.”

The project brings together a large internal and external team. Marie McEwan, DC simulation specialist, played a key role in the design, development and co-ordination of the simulation activity being used as the basis for the project with additional internal support coming from ORSI, The Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment and two research assistants/graduates from the college’s DSW program.

Within the community, the Region of Durham Adult Community Support Services Program, Community Living Oshawa/Clarington, the Provincial Human Resources Strategy Core Competency Implementation Team and the Standardized Patient Program from the University of Toronto are also participating.