Since the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) was launched, it has completed and published more than 140 research studies â€“ and funded dozens more that are currently underway â€“ that explore a wide range of trends and issues involving Ontario's postsecondary system. Drawing mainly from HEQCO's own research, this @Issue paper:
. Describes how the definition of student success has gradually broadened at Ontario colleges and universities;
. Summarizes some of the underlying institutional and student population factors that also impact on most current measures of student success;
. Provides broad observations about some recent findings as they relate to the awareness, utilization and impact of various student service, course-based and other initiatives designed to promote student success;
. Recommends what can be measured â€“ as well as how and what outcomes can be expected â€“ when it comes to initiatives and interventions designed to improve student success.
Some readers will be looking for the "silver bullet" within this paper. They will want to be told about a best practice that has been proven to be most effective at improving academic achievement, retention or engagement at an Ontario college or university, and that can be replicated to equal effect elsewhere. This @Issue paper does not identify â€œsilver bullets.â€ As explained in the pages that follow, the scope and scale of an intervention may make it difficult to measure â€“ or even expect â€“ considerable impacts on student success, especially in the short term.
This paper does provide broad lessons, however, that are likely to be applicable across a wide range of student service, course-based and other interventions currently offered at Ontario colleges and universities.
Defining â€œStudent Successâ€
For several decades, both governments and colleges/universities in Ontario and across Canada have tried to broaden access to postsecondary education (PSE) In particular, it was believed that a wide variety of barriers â€“ family and social background, financial resources, information about options, etc. â€“ needed to be overcome to encourage broader PSE participation, especially by those from traditionally under-represented groups (low income, first-generation, Aboriginal, visible
minority, rural, etc.).