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REF NO.: 39

SUBJECT: Performance of first-year students improving at Memorial University
DATE: Oct. 4, 2005

A new report indicates that first-year students at Memorial University of Newfoundland are achieving better grades.

The fall 2004 term average for new full-time high school graduates from Newfoundland and Labrador improved compared to the previous year’s entrants. Not only did the average grades increase, but a higher proportion received averages of 80 per cent or better, while fewer received averages of under 50 per cent. These were some of the findings in a report prepared by Memorial University’s Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning (CIAP) that profiles the academic performance of first-year students in 2004. The fall 2004 results are a continuation of a trend of improvement in academic performance that has been evident since 1998.

Memorial President Dr. Axel Meisen cited a proactive approach to fostering academic achievement among undergraduate students. “We are pleased with these trends and are also keenly aware of the need for students to have the services and resources in place to foster academic success,” Dr. Meisen said. “We recognize that student success is based on many factors, including the education students receive before they arrive to our university. In addition to our own retention and performance efforts aimed at current students, we have tried to put in place a number of programs and services which help them before they reach Memorial.”

One such program is Horizons Leadership Program, a scholarship program funded by the Fry Family Foundation that supports student leadership development from grades 9-12 in schools across the province. It aims to promote voluntarism and self-service development with an overall goal of making students academically successful while preparing them to become fully engaged members of the university community. “The strategy is to support and teach students how to adapt and succeed at Memorial and to demonstrate the positive aspects of what the institution has to offer, all while complementing their high school experience,” said Bruce Belbin, director of Student Success programs at Memorial. “The fundamental goal of Horizons is to encourage and foster the student's experiences in high school first, especially around leadership aptitude across Newfoundlandand Labrador. Students selected for Horizons have a strong B average and demonstrate exceptional leadership within their school and community. This, in turn, is fostered in preparation for their matriculation from high school to university. Horizons supports those involved students and encourages the well-rounded approach of good academics and involvement in the community.”

According to the minister of Education, Tom Hedderson, teachers in the K-12 system deserve some credit for first-year students’ improved performance. “This is the latest indication that Newfoundland and Labrador’s students are receiving a quality education,” said the minister. “Our students are clearly making the grade. High schoolers performed better in public exams this year and 16-year-olds have registered gains in science. Students have also been performing better at a national and international level. Along with better marks at Memorial, there certainly appears to be a trend of improved student learning in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

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For further information, please contact Ivan Muzychka, manager, News Service, Memorial University, 709-737-8665 or 709-687-9433or Alex Marland, director of Communications, Department of Education at 709-729-0048.

Background

‘03 to ‘04

‘98 to ‘04

Fall 1998

Fall 2003

Fall 2004

Change

Change

Term Average

61.8%

64.8%

66.2%

1.4

4.4

Average 80%>

7.4%

8.2%

10.9%

2.7

3.5

Average <50%

15.9%

9.9%

8.3%

-1.6

-7.6

Source: Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning, Memorial University.

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