A national award-winning program created by Memorial Universitys Student Affairs and Services (SAS) is helping guide first-year students toward academic success.
The post orientation student transition (POST) program makes it easy for students to ask questions and get the information they need. The fall 2010 pilot program consisted of referral centres, online resources through Desire2Learn (Memorials learning management system used to access web courses), classroom visits, reminder calendar handouts and the launch of an academic expo.
Denise Hooper of SAS masterminded the POST program with the purpose of helping first-year students find their way through that crucial first semester.
Research shows that students who have a better experience in their first semester tend to have greater overall success and satisfaction at university, she said.
Ms. Hooper and other faculty and staff at SAS say that a lot of first-year students hesitate to ask questions. They say students may be intimidated, are unsure of who or where to ask questions or believe its a silly question.
Not having the right information can make students first term all the more frustrating, said Ms. Hooper.
In its pilot year, the POST program received the Student Affairs and Services Association (SASA) Innovation Award (formerly Program/Service of the Year). In its second running, the POST program evolved its messaging simply into Got ?... and posted the message on signs and on T-shirts for Memorial staff and faculty to wear during the first week of the 2011 fall semester. And with more than 6,400 visits to the referral centre situated on the third floor of the University Centre, the program is proving to be a continued success.
According to Tom Brophy, director of student success programs at Student Affairs and Services, the strength of the program lies in the participation and collaboration of other departments and faculties, especially the Faculty of Arts (Department of English), DELTS, Memorials student body and Memorial Universitys student union (MUNSU).
We are grateful to the English department for their support of our classroom visits, and to DELTS for setting up the online components of the program. Without these pieces, the collaboration with other faculties, schools and departments during the academic expo, the support of more than 50 student volunteers, our committed student employees and our extensive collaborations with MUNSU, the program probably would not have succeeded.