It is entirely possible that a common definition of quality in education is an impossible goal. This is puzzling, since everyone knows what it looks like. It is the transfer of enthusiasm for knowledge and discovery from professor to student. It sparks the desire in a new generation to push the envelope of human understanding further than it has ever been pushed. It teaches the weight of responsibility to conduct this discovery responsibly, ethically and with future generations in mind.
Here in Ontario, we’re preparing students to make their mark on the world.
That’s not an exaggeration. Ontario’s colleges and universities produce talented, driven and innovative thinkers. These leaders go on to find success in global health, international trade, cross-border research partnerships and so much more. They then come back to Ontario, creating businesses and investing in the community that gave them their start. That’s the kind of future we want for more people in Ontario, and there’s no reason that a competitive, international edge can’t start earlier in one’s career.
Educational Assessment: Designing a System for More
The past few years have ushered in more strident calls for accountability across institutions of higher learning. Various internal and external stakeholders are asking questions like "Are students learning what we want them to learn?" and "How do the students' scores from one institution compare to its peers?" As a result, more institutions are looking for new, more far-reaching ways to assess student learning and then use assessment findings to improve students' educational experiences.
However, as Trudy Banta notes in her article An Accountability Program Primer for Administrators, “just as simply weighing a pig will not make it fatter, spending millions simply to test college students is not likely to help them learn more.” (p. 6)
While assessing institutional effectiveness is a noble pursuit, measuring student learning is not always easy, and like so many things we try to quantify, there’s much more to learning than a number in a datasheet. As Roxanne Cullen and Michael Harris note in their article The Dash to Dashboards, “The difficulty we have in higher education in defining and measuring our outcomes lies in the complexity of our business: the business of learning. A widget company or a fast-food chain has clearly defined goals and can usually pinpoint with fine accuracy where and how to
address loss in sales or glitches in production or service. Higher education is being called on to be able to perform similar feats, but creating a graduate for the 21st century workforce is a very different kind of operation.” (p. 10)
This special report Educational Assessment: Designing a System for More Meaningful Results features articles from Academic Leader, and looks at the assessment issue from a variety of different angles. Articles in the result include:
• The Faculty and Program-Wide Learning Outcome Assessment
• Assessing the Degree of Learner-Centeredness in a Department or Unit
• Keys to Effective Program-Level Assessment
• Counting Something Leads to Change in an Office or in a Classroom
• An Accountability Program Primer for Administrators
Whether you’re looking to completely change your approach to assessment, or simply improve the efficacy of your current assessment processes, we hope this report will help guide your discussions and eventual decisions.
Governments are increasingly looking to international comparisons of education opportunities and outcomes as they develop policies to enhance individuals’ social and economic prospects, provide incentives for greater efficiency in schooling, and help to mobilise resources to meet rising demands. The OECD Directorate for Education and Skills contributes to these efforts by developing and analysing the quantitative, internationally comparable indicators that it publishes annually in Education at a Glance. Together with OECD country policy reviews, these indicators can be used to assist governments in building more effective and equitable education systems. Education at a Glance addresses the needs of a range of users, from governments seeking to learn policy lessons to academics requiring data for further analysis to the general public wanting to monitor how its country’s schools are progressing in producing world-class students. The publication examines the quality of learning outcomes, the policy levers and contextual factors that shape these outcomes, and the broader private and social returns that accrue to investments in education.
The world is slowly moving out of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. With productivity, innovation, investment and trade not yet at full steam, the recovery still bears risks. It is also becoming clear that economic growth is not enough to foster social progress, particularly if the growth dividend is not shared equitably. Indeed, the social cost of the crisis continues to weigh heavily, with more than 46 million people out of work in OECD countries and relative poverty affecting millions more. In many countries the gap between the richest and the poorest is widening, youth unemployment remains high, and access to social services remains elusive for many. The world is looking for ways to spur economic growth in a more inclusive manner. The OECD contributes to this effort by developing the evidence and tools that policy makers can use to formulate new policies to achieve this goal.
This edition of Education at a Glance provides ample evidence of the critical role that education and skills play in fostering social progress. In addition to the usual data sources used for generating the OECD Education Indicators, this edition also draws on the rich database on skills provided by the 2012 Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), published in October 2013 (OECD, 2013a). Together with the 2012 data on the learning outcomes of 15-year-olds from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2012), published in 2013 and 2014 (OECD, 2013b and 2014a), and 2013 data on lower secondary teachers from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS 2013), published in June 2014 (OECD, 2014b), we now have the richest international evidence base on education and skills ever produced. And with our newly developed, web-based research tool, Education GPS, all this evidence is easily accessible at the click of a mouse.
Just as goods, services, products, and daily news gradually become widespread going beyond borders due to mass media, and global free movement, so do scientific publications, books, and academic work. As a result of the mind-blowing developments in publishing industry and communication, a piece of information, comments, or inventions belonging to a nation, country,
university, or an academic ach the furthest country immediately and be shared with other societies and scientists.
An important consequence of intensification of economic, political, and cultural relations among countries is that scientific and educational cooperation has increased. Only 30-40 years ago, there was only a handful of books and articles published abroad
by Turkish scientists, yet today, hundreds of articles are published in magazines, and many books are printed by foreign publishing houses, which gives various nations information on science, arts, sports, politics, education, and inventions in Turkey.
With tuition prices continuing to climb and middle-class America’s earnings stagnant for more than a decade, colleges and universities continue to face pressure from government, governing boards, students and their families to provide proof of the value of a bachelor’s degree. Students historically have had little more to go on than anecdotal information when it came to the jobs and earnings they could expect upon graduation from a specific college or university.
University research drives innovation, builds economic prosperity and improves quality of life for all Canadians. We can be proud of our globally competitive research infrastructure, the excellence and capacity of our faculty, and the international scope of Canada’s research initiatives.
Canada has the necessary building blocks to become a world leader in innovation, and universities are at the heart of this work. Investing in university research is integral to a nation’s long-term economic growth and productivity. Universities, industry and governments need to work together to encourage creativity and risk-taking and support students, researchers and entrepreneurs to cultivate a robust innovation system.
Graduates themselves are often unsure of where to look for opportunities outside academe.
A continued need exists for community college administrators to develop and implement strategies to ensure sufficient staffing to meet demand for online courses and promote student success. The problem this study addressed was threefold. First, online instructors in the local setting are overextended and are consequently unable to implement best practices. Because overextended online instructors cannot offer the presence and feedback needed to promote success, online student performance as measured by final course grades suffers. Another problem was that the current institutional system encourages overload teaching assignments. Finally, increased teaching loads can have negative ramifications on online instructor attentiveness, student performance, and academic rigor. The purpose of this descriptive quantitative study was to collect relevant data to examine the relationships among (a) online instructor employment status, (b) online instructor teaching load, and (c) online student performance at a community college. The study used both comparative and correlational research designs to address the research questions using ex post facto data. No statistically significant correlations were found between student success and employment status. However, a negative correlation was discovered between course overload and
student success as measured by final course grades and completion rates. Recommendations for future
research include an examination of seniority and tenure status of faculty and a wider geographic and
institutional type study to ensure generalizability of the results.
The time for meaningful transformation in Ontario’s postsecondary system is now. To meet the needs of the emerging
economy, reform must focus on innovation and applied learning that vaults our province ahead of its competition in creating the best-educated, best-prepared workforce in the world. Composed of distinct but equally valued and complementary partners, Ontario’s transformed postsecondary system will ensure that all students can reach their full potential through a broad array of theoretical and applied learning opportunities. Colleges will continue to be student focused, specializing in applied learning that leads to good jobs for graduates, addresses labour market needs and affords access to the broadest possible population. Colleges and universities will offer a range of credentials within their systems and collaborate on a multitude of programs that
offer students the best of both. Expanded pathways will give students the opportunity to customize their post-secondary
experience to match their interests. Online and blended learning, married to leading-edge technology, will enable students
to learn anywhere, anytime, and in ways best suited to their learning styles. Students will be better prepared than ever before to meet the demands of the economy, and they will achieve their goals faster and at less cost.
The time for meaningful transformation in Ontario’s postsecondary system is now. To meet the needs of the emerging economy, reform must focus on innovation and applied learning that vaults our province ahead of its competition in creating the best-educated, best-prepared workforce in the world. Composed of distinct but equally valued and complementary partners, Ontario’s transformed postsecondary system will ensure that all students can reach their full potential through a broad array of theoretical and applied learning opportunities. Colleges will continue to be student focused, specializing in applied learning that leads to good jobs for graduates, addresses labour market needs and affords access to the broadest possible population. Colleges and universities will offer a range of credentials within their systems and collaborate on a multitude of programs that offer students the best of both. Expanded pathways will give students the opportunity to customize their post-secondary experience to match their interests. Online and blended learning, married to leading-edge technology, will enable students to learn anywhere, anytime, and in ways best suited to their learning styles. Students will be better prepared than ever before to meet the demands of the economy, and they will achieve their goals faster and at less cost.
In his book, The World is Flat, author Thomas L. Friedman argues the barriers that used to separate countries – such as commerce and the movement of people – are gone, leaving the world more integrated, mobile and open to competition from all. Only countries that understand how to embrace this new reality will thrive in the world economy of the future. Creativity is always looking for a better home, as the Canadian Urban Institute and Jane Jacobs have argued.
The 2015 Engineers Canada Labour Market Study provides supply and demand projections for 14 engineering occupations. The report highlights a large and growing need to replace retiring engineers as they exit the workforce. This is particularly relevant for civil, mechanical, electrical and electronic engineers as well as computer engineers. Replacement demand for engineers
is an important theme that will be relevant for the next decade as the baby boom generation retires.
Canadian universities are granting an increasing number of engineering degrees to Canadian and international students and creating new entrants to these occupations. Ontario and Quebec universities are granting many of these degrees. However, economic activity is shifting to western Canada and shifting the demand for engineers in that direction. Engineers Canada would like to highlight the growing importance of inter-provincial migration for engineers. In addition, federal government immigration policy such as the new Express Entry program is important to help streamline international migration of engineers to meet the country’s future workforce requirements.
Responsible ethics evaluation is the heart of Canada’s research community, but some believe that the evaluation process could be better tailored for the college sector.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is now the law of the land.
Replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) does more than realign the federal government’s role in education. It also elevates technology’s use in education in unprecedented ways. These changes require new thinking from leaders at the school, district and state level.
We’re releasing this handbook as states prepare their initial plans for state accountability requirements and other provisions of the new law. At the time of this writing, many states appear to be gravitating toward familiar models, albeit with considerable improvements in data, targeted interventions and instructional strategies that reflect the law’s emphasis on flexibility and local control. But there are opportunities for more dramatic transitions in what accountability means and how it is measured in schools, as well as in new models of teaching and learning. Technology plays a vital role in these areas, and ESSA provides new ways to help states and districts make these visions a reality.
In response to stronger demand for access to degree programs and changing expectations from employers due to labour market needs, the Ministry made a number of decisions about how to increase access to a broader range of degree opportunities in April 2000. One of those decisions was to allow Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAATs) to offer degrees in applied areas of study. These degrees differ from research-focused degrees because they have a strong focus on preparation for entry to practice occupations. The first degree programs began development in 2001. As of the evaluation period, thirteen of the twenty four colleges in Ontario were offering college degree programs.
Individualized programs, less coursework and scrapping comprehensive exams some of the options discussed at
Future of the Humanities PhD conference in Ottawa.
At the final panel discussion of the two-day Future of the PhD in the Humanities conference held at Carleton
University May 17 and 18, a trio of senior administrators took aim at the structure of PhD programs and completion
times. Despite it being the final event, the room was packed, prompting one speaker to quip that this is proof of how
eager the academic community is to review the state of doctoral education in Canada.
The issue of the “boy gap” or “boy crisis” in education has been the subject ofincreasing attention across a number of OECD countries. The issue has also captured the attention of the Canadian media. As the Globe and Mail recently emphasized in their six-part series on ‘failing boys’:
“data suggests that boys, as a group, rank behind girls by nearly every measure of scholastic achievement. They earn lower grades overall in elementary school and high school. They trail in reading and writing, and 30 per cent of them land in the bottom quarter of standardized tests, compared with 19 per cent of girls. Boys are also more likely to be picked out for behavioural problems, more likely to repeat a grade and to drop out of school altogether”. (Globe and Mail, October 15, 2010)
Given the importance of this issue and the need to better understand the situation in boys' education, this report draws on material and data from a review of websites, research reports and relevant data sources, as well as informal consultations with some official and expert sources, to scope out four main questions:
1. What is the situation regarding education and training participation and
results for boys and men throughout the OECD, including post-secondary
education and trades?
2. Are there policies and practices in place to attenuate unfavourable trends?
3. What are Canadian jurisdictions doing?
4. What do we know about the success and failure of various models OECDwide
with a focus on Germany, the United States, Australia and the United
It should be noted that there is a substantial disconnect between public policy commentary on issues in the “developed” and “non-developed” worlds. In the latter, priority attention continues to be centred on the barriers and obstacles faced by females in education and the labour market. Access to education in all its forms is still significantly more available to males in such countries. The UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) is focused on ensuring that a gender equity
and equality perspective is brought to bear within the broad context of the UN’s Education for All (EFA) initiative, and is reflected in the Global Monitoring Reports issued by the EFA.
In is also the case that attention within OECD countries continues to be paid to the traditional barriers faced by women in many areas of education and
employment. A “question scan” done by CCL for the British Columbia Ministry of
Advanced Education only a few years ago identified a number of studies and
reports on the issue of gender in PSE access; all of them focused on the
question of female participation and access, none on the “boy crisis”.
It is also the case that attention in several OECD jurisdictions has shifted in some circles in the past number of years to the phenomenon of a substantial shortfall of the percentage of males, compared to females, who complete secondary schooling, and who are enrolled in and graduate from PSE. The implications of this “boy gap” are increasingly being pondered in such countries as Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. The statistical picture in terms of this gender gap, as
shown in literacy rates, school achievement in literacy, and participation and success in university studies, has been quite clear in such jurisdictions for two decades and more; the implications of this gap, however, are not at all a matter of consensus. Nor are the public policy and program responses either clear or consistent.
Question 1: What is the situation for boys and men throughout the OECD,
including PSE and the trades?
The purpose of this section is to present general statistics on performance and participation in education and training for both boys/young men and girls/young women across OECD countries. The data have been selected to provide a preliminary overview that can be used to direct further research and analysis.
Given the parameters of this project, it is not possible to complete a comprehensive survey of data. For the purposes of this paper, the focus is on Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, using a limited number of variables.
This first section focuses entirely on statistics and trends. It becomes obvious early in any consideration of this issue that its complexity and multifaceted nature present challenges. For clarity, the findings below are presented by educational sector.
1. Overview—general trends over time The relationship between education and skill development has been a well explored topic over the last decade, with many countries concluding that highly skilled and educated citizens are essential to meet the challenges of globalization and the knowledge economy. In an effort to help understand the complex network and inter-relationship of factors that influence individuals to participate and succeed in education and training, researchers have undertaken detailed research on educational outcomes and the influences on motivation, participation and completion of education.
Over the last couple of decades there has been increasing emphasis on maximizing the participation of under-represented groups such as immigrants, women and other minorities in education. Along the way, an interesting trend has emerged that is now clearly illustrated by the statistics—the statistics indicate that, overall, girls and women tend to do better in school environments, outperforming males. This is evident in both the secondary- and higher-education sectors. Research shows that girls/young women and boys/young men have distinctly different experiences in the various educational sectors.
For many years, gender-related research in the K–12 sector was focused on dropout rates in secondary schools. These rates were usually significantly higher for boys than girls, a trend which held across OECD countries.
The OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), designed to explore “the educational performance and attitudes of adolescent males and females”, provides data to answer questions related to why female and male students perform differently. Ironically, one of the main rationales for PISA was to determine why females appeared disinterested in, and tended to be less successful in, mathematics and the physical sciences. However, PISA findings that demonstrated that boys had difficulty in the area of reading spurred further research into literacy among boys and, eventually, the design of specific
interventions to address related issues.
Statistical evidence about gender differences among young boys and girls is quite detailed. The OECD report, “Equally Prepared for Life?”, provides a summary of gender issues from early childhood based on results from PISA,
PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and other statistics that are gathered regularly.
Some of the main findings across OECD countries include1:
• Gender differences appear at early stages of education but they are small.
Females show better performance in reading in primary schools.
• Females showed significantly higher reading achievement than males in all (except two) countries by Grade 4. (2004 data)
• At Grade 4, the results for mathematics and science were mixed. Males had significantly higher scores for math in 12 countries while females had significantly higher scores in eight countries. In science, the scores for males and females were somewhat similar in more than half the countries
• By Grade 8, on average, females had higher achievement than males in mathematics, although there were country variations. (2007) The same was true for science.
• Although PISA 2006 showed no significant differences between males and females in the overall performance in science, females were better identifying scientific issues while males were better at explaining phenomena scientifically.
- In the PISA 2009 reading assessment, girls outperform boys in every participating country by an average, among OECD countries, of 39 PISA score points—equivalent to more than half a proficiency level or one year
- On average across OECD countries, boys outperform girls in mathematics by 12 score points while gender differences in science performance tend to be small, both in absolute terms and when compared with the large 1 OECD, “Equally Prepared for Life?” 2009, pp. 3; 10–12;16–19; 2–24 and 27.
A growing number of Canadian universities offer graduate student certificate programs in university teaching. This paper examines such programs at 13 Canadian universities and presents a discussion of program structures and practices. The findings suggest that most programs were offered over one to two years, and upon successful completion, participants were issued a centre-approved certificate paired with a more formalized method of recognition, such as a transcript notation. The core focus of certificate programs appears to be divided between those that emphasize practical skill development (46%) and those that offer practical skill development along with a focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning (54%). Most certificates included ac- tive and authentic assessment methods, such as dossiers (69%), and practice teaching sessions (62%). These findings help to inform the continued evolution of graduate student teaching certificate programs.