Welcome to SERT

The Student Experience Research Team, SERT, is a group of students and educators using arts-informed methods of learning, inquiry, and storytelling to deepen our understanding of students’ post-secondary experiences. We consider questions related to student engagement, belonging, first-year experiences, student “desirability”, identity, academic persistence, student debt, and more, and we have a particular focus on engaging in participatory and non-traditional forms of inquiry to do so. Here, we invite you in to see SERT as a team, to explore SERT’s pedagogy and methods. You’ll find reflections on our process, our drawings and conversations and rough drafts, and we hope you’ll even get a sense of the deep feeling of community we are privileged to create together. Welcome to the student experience research team, we’re so glad you’re here.

Recent Projects

Illuminating Post-Secondary Student Experiences Using Arts-Informed Methods

Launching boat number two: The inaugural SERT project 2018-2019

Our first project was also our first team. In our “Stuck Narratives” zine-report we detail the process of building SERT as well as the results from our collage-as-inquiry investigation into the expectations and lived experiences of a group of post-secondary students at Ryerson University.

Deeper waters: Considering “student engagement” in 2019-2020

With a new academic year comes a new team, and our investigations deepen as we consider and complicate dominant conceptions of “student engagement” and design a project that brings research to participants in novel ways – not to mention re-imagining a research design when a pandemic affects our participants’ worlds and our own.

Student engagement and debt stress: a SERT study at the Office of Social Innovation

The third iteration of SERT found a new home in the Office of Social Innovation, where a group of social work students investigated students’ experiences with accessing financial assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Windows into SERT

Part of the SERT method includes drawing as a way of thinking, learning, and teaching; we create visual literature reviews, we draw concepts and we doodle as a way to more deeply understand what we know and think. We lovingly share these illustrations throughout our SERT gallery and invite you to consider them as representations of our method: unfixed, ever-evolving, and in practice.

The SERT method

Go slow; build community; fit for purpose. Learn more from the creators of the program about its mission and what goes into designing a high-impact practice in student affairs for undergraduate students.

Journal Entries

In which we share some of our favourite reflections from our collaborative learning and teaching space, our SERT blog.

Reflections on the SERT experience

SERT research assistants, undergraduate students at Ryerson University, express what they’ve learned about conducting research, about fellow students, and about themselves.

We believe, not in the righteousness of only one true method, but in a research continuum, that the contours of the human experience are most usefully illuminated by seeing them from a variety of perspectives.

Research Ethics

All SERT projects involving student participants received approval from Ryerson University’s Research Ethics Board and all the stories and creative works shared here come from participants who gave their consent to be represented in these and other formats.

About Us

SERT is a project originally developed at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada by Tesni Ellis and John Hannah, educators curious to learn deeper truths about students’ experiences in post-secondary. Learn more about SERT here.


Get in touch with us at sert@ryerson.ca