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07 June 2018 Photo Supplied
Emotional safety during examinations

Mid-year exams have begun and with crunch time comes emotional upheaval. However, it is manageable and should not deter you from the end-goal of succeeding in your studies while maintaining high mental health standards.

“The exam period is a time when stress and anxiety levels are higher than usual. Stress can be positive and help you stay motivated and focused. However, too much stress can be unhelpful and can make you feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted and edgy,” says Dr Melissa Barnaschone, Director of Student Counselling and Development at the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Helpguide.Org: Trusted guide to mental & emotional health, “Mental and emotional health is about being happy, self-confident, self-aware, and resilient. People who are mentally healthy are able to cope with life’s challenges and recover from setbacks. But mental and emotional health requires knowledge, understanding, and effort to maintain. If your mental health isn’t as solid as you’d like it to be, here’s the good news: there are many things you can do to boost your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life.”

For further details on topics including: Building Better Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence Toolkit, Benefits of Mindfulness, Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Cultivating Happiness, visit the Help Guide. 

Dr Barnaschone has a few tips on how Kovsies can better approach academic anxiety during the examination period. Here is what she has to say:

News Archive

Students receive hands-on crime scene investigation training
2016-09-02

Description: Crime scene investigation training Tags: Crime scene investigation training

Ntau Mafisa, a forensic science honours student
at the UFS, and Captain Samuel Sethunya from
the SAPS Crime Scene Management in
Bloemfontein.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

With murder and robbery rates on the rise, the Forensic Science Programme of the Department of Genetics at the University of the Free State is playing a key role in training South Africa’s future crime scene investigators and forensic laboratory analysts.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), murder and aggravated robbery rates for 2014/2015, as recorded by the South African Police Services (SAPS) have increased. Incidents of murder increased by 4.6% in the period from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015 and aggravated robbery increased by 8.5 % in the same period. The ISS is an African organisation thant enhances human security by providing independent and authoritative research, expert policy advice and capacity building.

Dr Ellen Mwenesongole, a forensic science lecturer at the Department of Genetics, said the university was one of a few universities in South Africa that actually had a forensic science programme, especially starting from undergraduate level.

Crime scene evaluation component incorporated in curriculum
As part of its Forensic Science Honours Programme, the department has, for the first time, incorporated a mock crime scene evaluation component in its curriculum. Students process a mock crime scene and are assessed based on how closely they follow standard operating procedures related to crime scenes and subsequent laboratory analysis of items of possible evidential value.

The mock crime scene forms part of a research project data collection of the honours students. In these projects students utilise different analytical methods to analyse and distinguish between different types of evidence such as hair fibres, cigarette butts, illicit drugs and dyes extracted from questioned documents and lipsticks.

Students utilise different analytical methods to analyse
and distinguish between different types of evidence.

This year, the department trained the first group of nine students in the Forensic Science Honours Programme. Dr Mwenesongole, who received her training in the UK at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, said incorporating a crime scene evaluation component into the curriculum was a global trend at universities that were offering forensic science programmes.

Department of Genetics and SAPS collaborate
It is important to add this component to the student’s curriculum. In this way the university is equipping students not only with theoretical knowledge but practical knowledge on the importance of following proper protocol when collecting evidence at crime scenes and analysing it in the laboratory to reduce the risk of it becoming inadmissible in a court of law.

The Genetics Department has a good working relationship with the Forensic Science Laboratory and Free State Crime Scene Management of the Division Forensic Services of the SAPS. The mock crime scene was set up and assessed in collaboration with the Crime Scene Management Division of the SAPS. Although the SAPS provides specialist advanced training to its staff members, the university hopes to improve employability for students through such programmes.

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