About SERT

This initiative, the Student Experience Research Team (SERT), is driven by the following commitments:

Creating a meaningful, high-impact research opportunity for undergraduate and/or graduate students that will enrich their understanding of their own and their fellow students’ experience in higher education.

Activating non-traditional, “ways of knowing” in our methodology.

Making a meaningful contribution to scholarship concerning student affairs, arts-based educational research, student engagement, and student experiences through these research efforts.

SERT is a project originally created at Ryerson Student Affairs at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada created and lead by Tesni Ellis and John Hannah from 2018-2021. As of September 2021, SERT is an independent project lead by Tesni Ellis. Learn more here from the creators of SERT about our method.

SERT Manifesto

Our manifesto is a public, shared declaration of our intentions; it’s a way to make conspicuous what is important to us in this project.

To our fellow researchers, have these values in mind:

Be skeptical of the accepted points of view, so that when you look at things from other angles, you will expect surprises.

Don’t have a destination in sight but, rather, a good process for going somewhere.

Be driven by curiosity, a desire to see things anew, questions, not answers.

Take leaps of faith, go into unknown territory, entertain the outrageous.

Connect with warmth, dignity, and respect.

Make things as a way to have insight.

Use that insight to make other things more visible.

Share that new visibility with others to broaden our collective understanding.

Be brave, but humble with your assertions, your ideas – they may not be “right”, but they add to the story, like the assertions and ideas of others.

There may be others who are affected by your inquiries, an after-math. Attend carefully to that always.

Do all of this believing it will contribute to a more just world.

Because SERT:

Will engage in fearless inquiry about the hidden elements of student experience.

Will be committed to challenging conventional wisdom and un-learning when old truths get in the way of new ones.

Will engage in this pursuit ethically, responsibly, attentively, and honestly.

Will embrace non-traditional forms of inquiry and be open to emergent insight.

Will use, when appropriate, art and storytelling to help unravel untold truths about student lives.

Will aim to create genuine and positive change in the Ryerson student community and those who support them.

References throughout site

Adichie, C. N. (July 2009). The danger of a single story. Ted Talk for TEDGlobal 2009. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en.

Eisner, E. & Barone, T. (2012). Arts based research. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications.

Hammond, Z. (2014): The first six weeks create a counter narrative. Retrieved from:

Hannah, J., & Ellis, T. (2018). “The student as artist.” About Campus, 23(2), 11–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/1086482218785876

Hendry, P. M. (2007). “The future of narrative.” Qualitative Inquiry, 13(4), 487-498.

Ross, K. (2017). “Making empowering choices: How methodology matters for empowering research participants.” Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 18(3). http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1947971761?accountid=13631

Schreiner, L.A. (2017), “The privilege of grit.” About Campus, 22: 11-20. doi:10.1002/abc.21303

Journal Entries by the Creators

first day reflections for SERT:OSI, a new chapter

by Tesni Ellis Hi team, I’m feeling both energized and as I said, out of breath after our first day together. I think that’s a good sign but it is also a reminder that we will all be practicing patience and balancing varied energy levels together this term. I’m hopeful that what we covered today…

specificity and subjectivity, a reflection

by Tesni Ellis “We have been driven away from knowing that what we feel is as important as what we think.” – just one of the moments of clarity that Rina provided this morning, for me at least. Well, team, we’re wrapping our sixth week together and I feel like this week really solidified us as a community. This…

uncertain waters

It’s April 2nd, SERT is two short months from completing our project and term as a team, and yet it’s likely we won’t see each other in person through any of that time.

Where are we now?

This is the waiting part. Poised and ready to deploy, we await word from the ethics board, and it gives us time to discuss, reflect, collect our thoughts and remind ourselves of the good reasons for doing this work. So, where are we?

Boat # 2

Imagine you have been granted a four-month, all-hassles-taken-care-of opportunity to travel. You arrive at the harbor, where the trip, an ocean-going trip, will begin, and where you will choose between two boats. Boat # 1 will maintain a strict and well worked out itinerary, following a route popularized and perfected by hundreds of travelers before…