Incoming students at Seneca College and at most other community colleges in Ontario undergo a post-admission
English language skills assessment. The assessment is used to diagnose their writing needs and
to place them into a course appropriate to their level of proficiency.
Over the past five years, an increasing number of incoming students at Seneca have been placed into a developmental English course called EAC149 (in 2005, 38.0 per cent; in 2009, 43.4). EAC149 is a four-hourper- week, non-credit reading and writing course designed to prepare students for college-level English.
While developmental or remedial classes are not necessarily associated with lower academic success (Attewell, Lavin, Domina & Levey, 2006), our records indicate that a lower success rate in EAC149 puts students at a pronounced risk of not graduating from Seneca College. Effective methods to encourage successful completion of EAC149 may thus increase students’ chances of graduating from their programs.
This project assessed the impact of tablet technology and DyKnow interactive software on the development of
students’ writing skills in EAC149. Tablets enable individuals to use a pen-like instrument called a stylus to
take notes, record marginal comments and modify digital text in a manner similar to writing with a pen on
paper. DyKnow interactive software enables teachers to share and record digital content and collaborate with
students individually and collectively as a classroom session proceeds. With each tablet linked to DyKnow
interactive software, a teacher can display the work of individual students anonymously on a screen for
viewing by all class members and incorporate notations and marginal comments as they discuss the text.
Many recent immigrant adult students (RIAS) are highly trained in their source countries and anticipate finding suitable employment upon arriving in Canada. (In this study, RIAS are defined as individuals over 24 years of age who have been living in Canada as permanent residents or citizens for less than 10 years.) There is mounting evidence, however, that in recent years the process of obtaining meaningful employment has become significantly more difficult for RIAS in particular. As a consequence, increasing numbers are turning to the Canadian postsecondary education (PSE) system to obtain more credentials and work experience as a means of gaining better access to employment. However, current research suggests that after entering universities and colleges, newcomers such as recent immigrants face a number of unexpected barriers to educational success, including lack of proficiency in either of Canada’s official languages; non-recognition of foreign transcripts and prior work experience; financial constraints; and insufficient knowledge concerning how the Canadian PSE system operates.
With increasing numbers of RIAS attending Ontario PSE institutions, there is growing concern that their learning needs may not be met, leading to decreased academic and employment success. Unfortunately, it appears that most PSE institutions have not identified RIAS as a group with unique learning needs. Academic success in PSE requires that students be fully
engaged and that they have access to resources that enhance engagement. There is a paucity of research concerning the degree to which RIAS are engaged in both academic and nonacademic components of Canadian PSE. Although all PSE institutions provide a variety of student services, there is no evidence that RIAS utilize them or that any particular benefits accrue in terms of promoting academic and social integration to even those RIAS who do use student services. This multi-institutional research study was conducted with the financial support of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). The study objectives included the following:
• developing a preliminary scale to measure RIAS engagement, consisting of academic and non-academic involvement in PSE,
• describing the demographic and institutional factors that influence RIAS engagement within their academic environment,
• identifying the unique immigration challenges of RIAS in PSE programs,
• identifying service needs and utilization patterns of RIAS, and
• developing recommendations for educational policy and service delivery changes within the Ontario PSE system.
The study also included exploration of the following research questions:
1. To what extent do RIAS become engaged with the academic community at the PSE institutions that they choose to attend?
2. What demographic and institutional factors influence their degree of academic engagement of RIAS?
Integrating Technoloyg, Pedagogy and Change Knowledge
This longitudinal mixed method study collected quantitative data from 151 students with Learning Disabilities (LD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). Of these,117 students attended a combination of focus groups and personal interviews and shared their postsecondary education (PSE) experiences as persons with disabilities. The quantitative and qualitative data collection was carried out over two and a half years at the Centre for Students with Disabilities, which provides support and accommodations to college and university students within a shared campus environment at Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the educational quality of the existing student service programs designed to ensure PSE access for students with LD and/or ADHD, who are an under-represented and at-risk population. Specifically, the study set out to measure and explore the effect of the Summer Transition Program (STP) and enhanced services on promoting students’ engagement, academic performance and, ultimately, their ongoing success throughout PSE.
The Ministry’s STP funding is earmarked for students with LD. However, the Ministry recognizes that students with LD have high comorbid rates of AD/HD. The STP is offered prior to the commencement of the fall semester to give students with LD and/or ADHD a chance to learn evidence-based learning strategies, self-determination skills and the use of assistive
technologies that promote PSE success without the added pressure and demands of a PSE course load. The STP curriculum is delivered in August, in a classroom setting in the morning and in a computer lab in the afternoon. Each day has a specific theme and content is designed to enhance knowledge and skills, such as time management. LD-specific supports were found to improve student outcomes, and the ongoing enhanced supports were believed to ensure accessibility.
This study’s most optimistic finding was the positive association between attendance at the STP and use of enhanced services. The study’s findings demonstrate that the STP improves the quality of students’ transition to PSE by first facilitating an earlier intake requirement and then helping students acquire psychoeducational assessments. STP students complete this process before the academic year begins in September.
Students who did not attend STP (NSTP students) described an overall lengthier and more complicated intake process. Findings from this study demonstrate that the STP improves students’ orientation to campus, orientation to services, disability awareness and willingness to self-advocate. STP also promotes their use of student services. On the other hand, when examining the impact of the STP alone, there were no differences between STP and NSTP students in their likelihood of earning a GPA above 2.0 for any of the first five semesters. The sample groups were self-selected or parentally selected. This sample selection could not be controlled for due to ethical reasons and the limited sample size; this may have decreased the measurable effect. A combination of the two programs was found to enhance academic performance.
Getting students to take their reading assignments seriously is a constant battle. Even syllabus language just short of death threats, firmly stated admonitions regularly delivered in class, and the unannounced pop quiz slapped on desks when nobody answers questions about the reading don’t necessarily change student behaviors or attitudes. Despite the correlation between reading and course success, many students remain committed to trying to get by without doing the reading, or only doing it very superficially, or only doing it just prior to exam dates. In return, some exasperated instructors fall into the trap of using
valuable class time to summarize key points of the readings. It’s not a new problem, and clearly we can’t simply bemoan the fact that students don’t read. Furthermore, doing what we’ve been doing — the threats, the endless quizzes, the chapter summaries — has failed to solve the problem. The better solution involves designing courses so that students can’t do well without reading, and creating assignments that require students to do more than just passively read.
Featuring 11 articles from The Teaching Professor, this special report was created to give faculty new ways of attacking an age-old problem. Articles in the report include:
• Enhancing Students’ Readiness to Learn
• What Textbook Reading Teaches Students
• Helping Students Use Their Textbooks More Effectively
• Text Highlighting: Helping Students Understand What They Read
• When Students Don’t Do the Reading
• Pre-Reading Strategies: Connecting Expert Understanding and Novice Learning
Whether your students struggle with the material or simply lack the motivation to read what’s
assigned, this report will help ensure your students read and understand their assignments.
The Teaching Professor
The promotion of mental health and well-being in our students, faculty, and staff is important to the University of Calgary. Given the symbiotic relation between health and education, Universities are increasingly recognized as places to promote the health and well-being of the people who learn, work and live within them. Research-intensive universities create cultures that demand high performance while promoting excellence and achievement, and also carry the risk of stress, stigma, and challenges to mental health. With the recognition of the importance of promoting mental health and intervening to address illness in a timely way, we join groups across Canada and beyond that are committed to enhancing the mental health of university students, faculty, and staff.
The HANDS (Helping Autism-diagnosed teenagers Navigate and Develop Socially) research project involves the creation of an e-learning toolset that can be used to develop individualized tools to support the social development of teenagers with an autism diagnosis. The e-learning toolset is based on ideas from persuasive technology. This paper addresses the system design of the HANDS toolset as seen from the user’s perspective. The results of the evaluation of prototype 1 of the toolset and the needs for further development are discussed. In addition, questions regarding credibility and reflections on ethical issues related to the project are considered.
Keywords: E-learning; autism; mobile learning; persuasive technology
Aalborg University, Denmark
An Annotated Bibliography
Nearly every college and university in America has refocused its attention on “student success.” Like many institutions, Cleveland State University, where I work, has erected an entire enterprise devoted to this endeavor. We have reorganized ourselves administratively, invested in new staff, updated technology and taken a deep dive into institutional data to ensure we are best positioned to make sure all our students have a high potential to graduate. We have improved as a result.
The Ontario government recognizes the importance of ensuring equality of access to postsecondary
education (PSE). One group that has been and continues to be underrepresented in PSE is students with
disabilities. As a response, the Ontario government has made improvements to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, with the end goal of making Ontario a more accessible province for people with disabilities by 2025. In addition to making changes to legislation, there has been increased funding for students with disabilities, with more than $47 million allocated in 2010-2011 to help these students achieve success in PSE. The Ontario government now also provides targeted funding for students with learning disabilities (Tsagris and Muirhead, 2012).
The Canadian labour market suffered a severe blow during the last recession, with more than 430,000 persons losing their jobs and the unemployment rate reaching levels unseen since the latter half of the 1990s.
Subsequently, the labour market has shown great resilience, and there are now 900,000 more Canadians employed since the beginning of the recovery. Important weaknesses remain, however: long-term and youth unemploymentstill stand at obstinately high levels – despite a recent growth in job vacancies.
This E-Brief argues the best way to further support the Canadian labour market would be through policies that enhance labour mobility and emphasize skills training to help ensure unemployed Canadians have the right skill sets to
integrate into the workforce.
Michael L. Skolnik
University of Toronto
Community college systems were established across North America from the early 1960s through the early 1970s. The new systems had two principal models: in one model, the college combined lower-division, university-level general education with technical education programs; in the other, most or all of the colleges were intended to concentrate on technical education. Ontario was the largest of the provinces and states in North America that opted for the second model. Many of the issues that planners confronted when designing these college systems have either persisted or re-emerged in recent years. This article re-examines the debate on the design of Ontario’s colleges that took place when they were founded and considers its implications for the present.
Depuis le début des années 1960 et jusqu’au début des années 1970, lorsqu’on créait des réseaux de collèges communautaires partout en Amérique du Nord, deux modèles majeurs étaient proposés pour ces nouveaux réseaux. Dans un des modèles, le collège combinait l’enseignement général universitaire de division inférieure avec les programmes d’enseignement technique ; dans l’autre, la plupart des collèges, sinon tous, se concentraient sur l’enseignement technique. L’Ontario était la plus importante parmi les provinces et les États en Amérique du Nord qui ait opté pour le deuxième modèle. Beaucoup des défis
auxquels les planifi cateurs ont été confrontés lorsqu’ils ont conçu le réseau des collèges sont encore présents ou sont réapparus au cours des dernières années. Cet article réexamine l’ancien débat sur la conception des collèges de l’Ontario et considère ses implications actuelles.
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, â€œjust 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.â€ (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, thereâ€™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, â€œThe 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.â€ (p. 10) This special report Educational Assessment: Designing a System for Mo re 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.
Growing enrollments, shrinking budgets and unprecedented diversity in student populations are just a few of the challenges community colleges around the country are facing today. And there are no signs that the situation will change anytime soon.
The American Association of Community Colleges estimates that U.S. enrollment in two-year colleges increased 17 percent from 2007 to 2009, from 6.8 million students to 8 million. Anecdotal evidence says this trend will continue.
During an economic downturn, community colleges feel an even greater strain with enrollment. People go back to school to learn new skills or get certificates or degrees that help their careers. Many must learn new jobs because their previous ones have gone away. While it’s good to have more students, the growth has been so rapid that it has put pressure on the institutions. How do they handle more students every semester? How do they grow despite less funding from federal, state and county governments?
“Because community colleges are growing so fast, and because they’re relatively new as institutions, they don’t have
the infrastructure that the big universities have. And yet they are being asked to do more,” said John Halpin, Vice President of SLED Strategy and Programs at the Center for Digital Education (CDE), a national research and advisory institute focused on IT
policy and best practices in education.
A New Course Community colleges now have a terrific opportunity to evolve thanks to technology, Halpin said. Numerous technologies — wireless, broadband, cloud computing and others — have greatly matured in recent years. They’ve been proven in the real world, and they’ve become more efficient and less expensive.
At community colleges, whether it’s for teaching and learning or for financial aid or other back-end systems, technology is making a huge impact on productivity. Students are learning in exciting new ways. E-mentoring, e-advising, online tutoring and even educational gaming are effectively engaging students and enhancing the educational experience. Professors are incorporating audio/video content to deliver learning in a manner that grabs the student’s interest. Schools are processing incoming students more efficiently and less expensively by putting administrative functions, such as application, orientation and registration, online.
Online learning, or e-learning, is booming. “Students value distance learning,” said Wilton Agatstein, Senior Fellow with the CDE. “It is very convenient for them, as they can learn from any place and at any time. Schools value distance learning because they can serve more students and a larger student demographic without having to build new classrooms and campuses. Distance learning serves everyone well, which is why its adoption is accelerating.”
Technology expectations are sky high. Students step onto campus expecting to incorporate their own communications tools — phones, music players, e-book readers, laptops/netbooks and other devices — into the learning experience. They want wireless access from any point on campus. And they want the ability to connect to school resources even when off campus.
Teachers and staff want the best technology too, because the right tools help everyone.
The workshops explored questions like: What are the attributes of a choice employer? What are Generation Y’s values and expectations when it comes to work and the workplace? What is the impact of these values in an organizational setting? How has
the conception of work evolved? How can employers attract and retain young workers?
Much has been written about the challenges of teaching an online course. While not discounting the unique (and sometimes frustrating) aspects of the online learning environment, it could be said that, despite the numerous differences, many of the same course management strategies that are essential to success in a traditional classroom also apply in the online classroom. These strategies include the importance of a strong syllabus, clear directions, well-organized materials, and timely feedback.
Of course, the big challenge for online instructors is that the very nature of online education amplifies the importance of properly addressing these management issues, while throwing a few more additional obstacles into the mix. Choosing the right communication tools and protocols, addressing technology problems, managing student expectations, and building community are just some of issues that can stretch online instructors to the breaking point.
11 Strategies for Managing Your Online Courses was created to help online instructors
tackle many of the course management issues that can erode the efficiency and effectiveness
of an online course. It features 11 articles pulled from the pages of Online Classroom,
• Syllabus Template Development for Online Course Success
• The Online Instructor’s Challenge: Helping ‘Newbies’
• Virtual Sections: A Creative Strategy for Managing Large Online Classes
• Internal or External Email for Online Courses?
• Trial by Fire: Online Teaching Tips That Work
• The Challenge of Teaching Across Generations
It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not the only one who may be a little anxious
about going online. Students often have anxiety when taking their first online course. It’s
up to you to help them feel more confident and secure, all the while keeping your
workload at a manageable level. The course management tips in this report will help.
Ontario is Canada's largest provincial destination for immigrants. Language barriers, lack of recognition for foreign credentials and lack of work experience in Canada prevent many from gaining employment in their field of expertise. There is an urgent and growing need for occupation-specific language training in Ontario. Immigrants cannot apply their experience, skills and knowledge without the level of language proficiency needed in the workplace, but there are not enough language training opportunities to meet their needs. Shortages of skilled workers in many sectors will increasingly hinder Ontarioâ€™s economic prosperity. This report presents the results of a project undertaken by Colleges Ontario and funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to examine existing occupation-specific language training in Ontario colleges. It identifies gaps and opportunities for occupation-specific language training and provides input on guidelines for moving toward a province-wide framework for college delivery of occupation-specific language training.
Participants in college-delivered occupation-specific language training will have obtained language proficiency at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels 6 to 8 and need to acquire occupation-specific language skills and knowledge. These may include individuals who are employed or unemployed, who are pursuing career or vocational training, or who need to acquire the language levels required for higher-level occupation-related language programs.
Ontarioâ€™s colleges are experienced in meeting the language needs of immigrants, and are developing increasing expertise in designing and delivering occupation-specific language training. Ontario colleges are a visible first point of entry for new Canadians seeking information on pathways to employment, credential and skills assessment, language training in English and French, upgrading their skills and knowledge, and postsecondary education and training.
Ontarioâ€™s colleges currently serve many landed immigrants and refugees. The changing demographic of college enrolment has provided the impetus to examine the language needs of students who are newcomers. Colleges are actively engaged in immigrant-related initiatives, such as Colleges Integrating Immigrants to Employment (CIITE), that provide opportunities to
link with college-delivered language training.
Information for this report was collected from the 24 Ontario colleges through a comprehensive consultative process that included in-depth interviews, follow-up and a one-day workshop. Colleges Ontario worked closely with the Colleges of Ontario Network for Education and Training (CON*NECT) and CIITE. Supplementary information was gathered through online research into OSLT activity at other Canadian colleges and universities. Consultations were held with the Ontario Regional LINC Advisory Committee (ORLAC). A working group was convened to provide guidance to Colleges Ontario and helped shape the consultations and research. The college sector in Ontario is made up of 24 independent colleges. Colleges actively collaborate on a wide range of initiatives, but each college brings its unique perspective to the delivery of education and training in Ontario.
In recent years, there has been a great and growing interest in measuring educational quality in the Ontario postsecondary education sector (PSE). Colleges and universities are interested in quality measures for academic planning purposes. Reliable indicators would allow them to identify effective educational practices as well as areas for improvement and to develop strategies in the hopes of improving educational experiences for students. The government is interested for accountability reasons. Quality has become an increasingly prominent focus of the McGuinty government, which seeks not only to increase the number of PSE graduates in the province but also to ensure the quality of degrees being awarded. Robust quality measures could be used to monitor individual institutional performance and to address issues at the sector level. Reliable and comparable provincial-level quality indicators could provide answers to questions such as how the Ontario PSE system is doing compared to other jurisdictions. The problem, however, is that educational quality cannot be easily defined, measured or assessed. Traditional quality indicators consist of two types: input measures (e.g., student-faculty ratio, class size, operating revenue per student) and outcome measures (e.g., retention rate, graduation rate, employment rate). Many researchers have argued that the focus on input measures and the oversimplified use of output measures may create a misleading picture of the quality of PSE in Ontario. Using input measures as quality indicators ignores the substantial differences in the effectiveness with which
institutions use available resources. Using output measures as quality indicators ignores the fact that universities differ from one another in terms of mission, size, location and student composition.
This report presents a review of leadership theory and competency frameworks that was commissioned to assist the development of the new National Occupational Standards in Management and Leadership.
Colleges Serving Aboriginal Learners and Communities 2010 Survey Highlights