UPEI Leads Research into Retention of Aboriginal Students at Atlantic Canadian Post-secondary Institutions
April 11, 2008
An Atlantic Canada research project called “Retention of Aboriginal Students in Atlantic Canada’s Post-secondary Institutions: An analysis of the supports available to Aboriginal students” has been initiated by the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in partnership with the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU).The Canadian Council on Learning will provide $55,000 in funding for this one-year investigation.
UPEI’s Dr. Vianne Timmons, vice-president of academic development, is leading the project in partnership with Dr. Fred Wien, Dalhousie University; Dr. Trudy Sable, Saint Mary’s University; Lindsay Marshall, Associate Dean of Mi’kmaq College Institute at Cape Breton University; Dr. Laurel Lewey, St. Thomas University; and Bernadette Power, Memorial University, to identify Aboriginal students’ perceptions of social and academic supports (or lack thereof) that are available to them at post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada.
“Research indicates that support services specifically for Aboriginal students aid in student success,” says Dr. Timmons. “It is critical that universities have these Aboriginal student supports available for their students to help in student success, and also encourage further postgraduate studies.”
Julie Bull, an Aboriginal master’s student at UPEI, is excited about this research.
“A key component of effective and efficient change is giving a voice to those who have been otherwise muted,” she says. “Aboriginal students face a multitude of challenges when attending post-secondary institutions, which means their concerns and stories need to be told and heard in order to inform future program and service delivery. Engaging the Aboriginal students in this project will yield results that can be used to influence change and implement culturally appropriate services.”
The results of this research will be made accessible and available to the AAU, which is an association of 17 universities in the Atlantic region. Recommendations will also be identified for the AAU, its member institutions, participating indigenous communities and decision-makers in order to improve the nature of social and academic support for indigenous students in the region.
The University of Prince Edward Island and Dr. Timmons have been working with indigenous communities for the past six years. Dr. Timmons has conducted research in partnership with various communities in the area of children’s health, knowledge transfer and family literacy.
For further information, contact Dr. Timmons at [email protected] or (902) 566-0405.
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