Integrating Rock the Boat in UBC Graduate Programs to Support Wellness, Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity in Supervisory Relationships

Project TitleIntegrating Rock the Boat in UBC Graduate Programs to Support Wellness, Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity in Supervisory Relationships
Principal InvestigatorSusan Cox
Co-ApplicantsMichael Lee, Professor of Teaching, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Matthew Smithdeal, PhD Candidate, Philosophy
Theresa Rogers, Associate Dean Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Professor, Language and Literacy Education
Jacqui Brinkman, Director, Graduate Student Professional Development, UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Lily Ivanova, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Funding Year2022
Project SummaryThere is an urgent need for faculty and graduate students to engage in building skills for effectively navigating supervisory relationships. Our use of research-based theatre (RbT) offers a novel approach and resource for professional development that will be implemented in graduate programs at UBC-V and beyond. This project builds on the success of Rock the Boat (RTB), a multi-media open educational resource using RbT to advance wellbeing, equity, diversity and inclusivity in graduate supervision. RTB was published in fall 2021 with Pressbooks and is available at

Based on our extensive piloting of RTB, we know it is effective in engaging homogeneous and mixed groups of faculty, students and staff in facilitated dialogue about difficult issues and in identifying strategies for effectively responding. Because participants can talk about the characters and situations in the scene rather than disclosing their own situation, the method lessens the burden of participation and also supports inclusivity. We know that a sense of belonging is extremely important to the wellbeing and success of graduate students. This project supports UBC’s approach to fostering inclusivity by empowering graduate students and actively promoting respectful teaching and learning environments. With widespread use, RTB could affect quality of supervision for all graduate students at UBC and hence their overall success and timely degree completion. RTB is also a valuable potential component of new online curricula being created to train faculty in the complex pedagogical aspects of graduate supervision.

RTB features four scenes designed to have universal applicability. In this project, we will leverage experience acquired from piloting RTB in live and virtual theatre workshop settings to implement and adapt the resource for use in selected graduate courses and programs. This will allow us to expand and refine the resource to ensure its relevance to programs and disciplines as well as different groups of participants (e.g., graduate students only versus mixed groups that include faculty and staff). Our goal is to maximize awareness and uptake of RTB in existing graduate courses and non-credit programs at UBC- V and beyond. Collaborating with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, we will work with graduate advisors and program directors, staff and students from programs interested in using RTB to enhance graduate supervision by:
1) assessing how to adapt use of resource content and format to the needs of each specific course or program (e.g., selection and sequence of dramatized scenes, in person or virtual format)
2) providing training and support to graduate students, staff, and faculty in running the workshops (e.g., identifying how to prompt effective discussion and attend to ethical considerations),
3) evaluating the effectiveness of the resource and its implementation in specific courses and programs (e.g., through options for confidential participant feedback),
4) incorporating feedback, learnings, and new materials from the above into an updated version of the resource. Developing these capacities will support the long-term sustainability of RTB and enhance its impacts. Any new modules or materials that arise will be shared through an open educational platform (OEP) to ensure accessibility.
Grant type OER Implementation
Funded Amount $25,000