Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Student success initiative expands

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

Bounce Back, a program initially offered to first-year Arts and Science students at risk of academic probation, is expanding to include Nursing, Commerce, and Engineering & Applied Science in 2014-15.

“There was a very strong response last year, with nearly 35 per cent of those eligible signing up,” says Arig Girgrah, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs (Student Life and Learning). “We are thrilled to be able to reach more students through the campus-wide expansion of the program this coming academic year.”

Bounce Back pairs first-year students struggling academically with a trained peer-mentor. (Photo by University Communications)

Run by Student Affairs in collaboration with the various Schools and Faculties, Bounce Back pairs first-year students who are struggling academically with a trained upper-year mentor who helps them identify effective learning strategies, set academic goals, develop self-management and coping skills, and plan how they can be most successful through their first year.

Students showed improvement after participating in Bounce Back, according to Ms. Girgrah. “Compared to those students who were eligible and chose not to enroll, we saw what appeared to be an intervention effect. The mean end-of-year GPA, as well as the increase in GPA from mid-year to end-of-year, was higher among those who participated. As well, the retention rate of the group that participated was higher, meaning there was a lower rate of withdrawal from Queen’s after first-year.”

Along with its expansion, Student Affairs is also implementing changes to the way the program is delivered. Peer facilitators who are returning for a second year will have the opportunity to work as senior facilitators and take on a greater leadership role. These senior facilitators will provide support for new facilitators, play a more active role in training, and act as program ambassadors.

“The objective is to make the program as peer-centered as possible: participants are paired with upper year peer mentors, peer groups on campus help to promote the program, and existing peer tutoring services are being leveraged to provide subject-specific support,” says Cassandra Eberhardt, Bounce Back Program Coordinator. “If a student is in need of support, we will work with them to access the resources they need to succeed.”