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University boot camp boosts student performance

Author: Communications

Posted on Aug 2, 2013

Category: UNB Fredericton

UNBetween students get a glimpse of university lifeIncoming engineering and science students were able to get a glimpse of their future-selves last week at this summer’s first round of UNBetween camps.

UNBetween is an innovative transition-to-university camp that allows students out of high school to experience campus life and the demands of academia. The program simulates the fifth week of a student’s first year, when workloads peak and students are studying for their first exams.

UNB offers the prep camps for high school students who are about to enter bachelor of engineering or science programs in the fall.

While students reference Frisbee on the quad, Tree-go, and even cafeteria jello as highlights of the week, they all note the amount of work involved. Many were surprised to learn that they had homework and assignments. Students live in residence, attend lectures, and participate in social events throughout the week-long camp.

"'Keeping it real' is our motto," Frank Collins, assistant dean of engineering notes. "The program works because it simulates the student experience."

"One of the biggest challenges for students is dealing with both the unknown, and the academic pressures while having so much freedom.  We expose them to this to help them cope with the change of learning environment."

And it works. UNBetween students - who represent the full range of incoming first year science and engineering students - perform up to 10% better than non-attendees. That can be the difference of a whole letter grade on a transcript.

At the end of the camp students receive a personalized assessment of their learning strengths, and guidance on where to seek help if needed.

Collins designed the program with fellow UNB engineering grad Katie Skead, the faculty’s outreach coordinator. "Unlike other transition camps, UNBetween is a combination of academic and social primers.  It's great to see the students bonding over the experience," Skead said. "Feedback has been excellent."

The results of the camp recently drew international attention among post-secondary educators, when Collins and Skead were invited to present at the International Conference on the First Year Experience. "We have been able to accomplish in 6 days what other transition camps typically accomplish in 3 or 4 weeks," Collins notes.

Collins has won numerous awards for his innovative teaching methods and educational leadership. In July, he added the 2013 Neil Scott Educational Leadership Award to his portfolio of student choice awards (’02, ’04, ’06, ’08, ’10).

While the UNBetween camp for science students was only held in July, incoming engineering students can still register for UNBetween’s August 11-16 session until 5:00 on Wednesday, August 7.

To arrange a media interview with UNBetween staff or student participants, contact Kelsey Seymour.

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