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Exams, Aboriginals, brains & HST

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November 12, 2010
Exam stress
The recent controversy surrounding a University of Manitoba student who was awarded a PhD despite having failed critical exams has turned the spotlight on the subject of test anxiety. What is test anxiety, how can it be mitigated and how and when are universities required to accommodate students who wrestle with it? As we enter exam season, Martin Mroz, director of Health and Counselling Services, can discuss how SFU supports struggling students and when exam stress crosses the line from discomfort to disability. Meanwhile, Mitchell Stoddard, director of the Centre for Students with Disabilities, can talk about his work with students diagnosed with anxiety.

Martin Mroz,, 778.782.3692
Mitchell Stoddard,, 778.782.3313

Aboriginal achievement gap
Why do Aboriginal students in B.C. score significantly lower than non-Aboriginal students in standard, province-wide tests? This is the question SFU economics associate professors Jane Friesen and Brian Krauth examined in their paper that was published in the Canadian Journal of Economics. Their research showed the achievement gap is apparent in Grade 4 but widens between Grade 4 and 7. William Lindsay, director of SFU’s Office for Aboriginal Peoples, can relate to the study. "I was one of those kids from the reserve who started to fall between the cracks between Grades 4-7 in the 1970s,” said Lindsay. “It looks to me like things haven't changed much in many jurisdictions. Many educators try to do their best for First Nations kids but they end up getting buried under the many other issues they face daily in the classroom."

Link to paper:
William Lindsay,, 778.782.8924

HST referendum question
SFU’s public policy experts have analyzed Election B.C.’s draft of the HST referendum question. “The question seems fair, although it is double-barreled as it asks whether you want to abolish the HST and bring back the PST (or even triple-barreled if you factor in bringing back the PST and the GST),” said Kennedy Stewart. “It follows the spirit of the question posed by the anti-HST campaigners during the initiative process.” His colleague, Doug McArthur, said the question contains “awkward” grammar and sentence structure.” While Jon Kesselman said, regardless of how the question is framed, voters won’t be confused because this has been such a widely publicized issue.

Kennedy Stewart,, 778.782.7913
Doug McArthur,, 011 44 740 587 2452 (mobile in UK)
Jon Kesselman,, 778.782.5035

Battle of the Brains
British Columbia’s best computer programmers will participate in a regional competition Nov. 14 at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus for a chance to take on the world. Each team of three university students will apply their programming skills and mental endurance to solve complex, real-world problems within a five-hour deadline. The winning team earns a coveted spot in the finals for the IBM-sponsored Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest in Egypt. SFU has three teams entered in this weekend’s regional round.

Bradley Bart,, 778.782.4685


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