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Supporting excellence

Award, research grant for Memorial at national conference

Teaching and Learning

By Abigail Lush

Memorial University received two honours at the recent 2017 Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) conference.

Memorial was presented with an Innovation Award for the Program in Graduate Student Supervision (PGSS) and a research grant for strengths-based student advising at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ont.

Innovation Award

The PGSS is Memorial’s first training program for supervisors that specifically targets key goals of two strategic planning initiatives.

From left, Dr. Jennifer Massey, Rob Wells, and Dr. Aimee Surprenant.
From left, Dr. Jennifer Massey, Rob Wells, and Dr. Aimée Surprenant.
Photo: Mike Ritter

The program will open up new possibilities for educator engagement and instructional design, therefore enhancing the research, learning and training experience of graduate students at Memorial.

Memorial’s Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), School of Graduate Studies, and Academic Advising Centre are thrilled to have their work recognized and promoted on a national level.

Graduate enrolment increases

Dr. Aimée Surprenant, dean, School of Graduate Studies, says that faculty involvement and mentorship play a vital role in students’ scholarly goals and ambitions.

“Faculty supervisors have the power to expand students’ minds, challenge preconceived notions and improve the way students manage challenges and opportunities extending past their academic years,” she said.

“With this important role being fulfilled by faculty, research indicated that professors in Canadian universities were not receiving a high enough level of training for how to engage with students. This lack of training received by faculty has become more significant in recent years, especially for Memorial, as graduate enrolment has increased more than 50 per cent from 2008 to 2016.”

Tools and support

In 2015, with the need for instructor training in mind, CITL, the School of Graduate Studies and the Academic Advising Centre began developing the PGSS, a nine-week blended learning program.

Over the course of a semester, instructors are provided with the tools and the support they need to be as effective as possible.

The PGSS has since been offered three times, with a capacity of 15 faculty members per semester. The program fills up quickly, leaving a lengthy waiting list.

“We aim to improve graduate students’ experiences and, ultimately, their success at Memorial.” — Rob Wells

With positive reviews, there are further sessions being offered in the near future. Rob Wells, director (interim), CITL, says faculty members have found the program meaningful and innovative.

“This program has been a tremendous success in engaging supervising faculty members and enhancing their relationship with graduate students, and so it is fitting that it has been recognized at the national level,” he said.

“By supporting this relationship with appropriate training and a community of practice, we aim to improve graduate students’ experiences and, ultimately, their success at Memorial.”

Research Grant

Student Life was awarded a research grant at the CACUSS conference for a new Strengths-Based Advising Program.

This program aims to advise students as to which career options may be suitable for them, as well as the path they can take to achieve their goals.

Dr. Jennifer Massey, director, Student Life, says that enhancing students’ knowledge of their passions and talents will increase their motivation and sense of purpose, which is vital for degree completion.

“It is always exciting to see Memorial University leading the country with innovative approaches to enhancing the student experience.” — Dr. Jennifer Massey

During the initial phase of implementation, this program will focus on undeclared first-year students, with subsequent phases of the program expanding to all students who are exploring different academic possibilities.

Dr. Massey is encouraged by the CACUSS support for this new program aimed at helping students reach their full potential.

“It is always exciting to see Memorial University leading the country with innovative approaches to enhancing the student experience on campus,” she said.

“Student Life is committed to working collaboratively with colleagues and student leaders across campus. This approach fosters an inclusive and holistic learning environment that maximizes the potential of each student through innovative learning experiences and initiatives that empower all students to thrive. Strengths-based advising is one key approach that we are delighted to implement.”


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