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‘Unprecedented impact’

Understanding the undergraduate COVID-19 experience


By Kelly Foss

A study is underway to shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on the undergraduate experience in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A close up of a woman in glasses.
Hortense Brown
Photo: Submitted

The research is being conducted by Hortense Brown, a visiting doctoral student from Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica.

The study is focused on students from Memorial University’s St. John’s campus, the Marine Institute and Labrador Campus.

It aims to determine the degree of stress or anxiety experienced by students during the pandemic and the ways students coped with their feelings.

Informed decision-making

Hortense Brown is leading the research in the Department of Biochemistry’s Life-Sciences Pedagogy Lab under the supervision of Dr. Amy Todd.

“The study is timely and necessary given the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on higher education,” said Dr. Todd. “The COVID-19 pandemic forced universities around the world to rapidly shift to online learning and restrict campus activities to help contain the spread of the virus. The impact on the mental health and well-being of students cannot be understated.”

Ms. Brown says her results will be shared with the university administration to help them make informed decisions about student welfare going forward.

The study will also contribute to a gap in the literature on the topic, as her research revealed in her country.

“The likelihood of another situation like this occurring is much more prevalent, even in my lifetime,” she said. “It’s important for this information be documented so, in the event such a thing occurs again, there is some way to prepare.”

Ms. Brown is the recipient of an Emerging Leaders in the Americas scholarship, which is funded by the Government of Canada.

The program supports the development of human capital and the next generation of leaders in the Americas while strengthening the linkages between post-secondary institutions in Canada and the Americas by providing university students in Latin America and the Caribbean with short-term exchange opportunities for study or research at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

Student survey

Ms. Brown’s survey is currently seeking undergraduate students who attended the St. John’s campus, the Marine Institute or Labrador Campus during 2020.

The survey can be found here. The deadline to complete the survey is May 10, 2023, and as a thank you for participating, eligible students can be entered to win a $100 gift card.

Ms. Brown will share her findings before returning to Jamaica in July.

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