This research report examines how PLAR as an asset-based practice might broaden the participation of adults in lifelong learning, particularly those adults who are under-represented in existing learning activities.
Specifically, the report uses short composite narratives to describe how PLAR users (academic and workplace settings), PLAR service providers, and PLAR stakeholders (persons from literacy organizations, human resources, career development, and government) understand the effectiveness of PLAR as an asset-based approach to adult learning. These composite narratives are derived from data documented in a 2008 report, Effectiveness of PLAR: A qualitative study of the voices of Canadians, prepared by the Canadian Association of Prior Learning and Assessment (CAPLA).
The idea of “productivity” in higher education is becoming a concern for some policymakers and observers of Ontario’s universities. This interest is fuelled by the province’s challenging deficit situation, which has put a premium on “doing more with less”. Productivity is featured in the Government of Ontario’s recent discussion paper, Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation, and Knowledge, and was a prominent focus of the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities
strategic mandate agreement process.
Recognition of the importance of a high-quality system of postsecondary education (PSE) in meeting the demands of Canada’s knowledge-based economy has focused recent media and policy attention on the role of Ontario’s colleges and universities in facilitating the successful transition of postsecondary graduates to the labour market. In particular, there is growing interest in the expansion of postsecondary work-integrated learning (WIL) programs – which include co-op, clinical placements, internships, and more – as a means of improving students’ employment prospects and labour market outcomes.
These programs are also believed to benefit students in other ways, for example, by enhancing the quality of the postsecondary experience and improving learning outcomes. Yet despite assumptions about the benefits of postsecondary WIL programs, relatively little empirical research has been conducted to assess students’ perspectives on the
value of WIL and the learning outcomes associated with WIL participation.
This report presents findings from the Graduating Student Survey on Learning and Work, conducted as part of a multi-phase study launched by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario in 2009 to build the knowledge base about postsecondary workintegrated learning in Ontario. In addition to the survey of graduating students, the study also includes surveys of Ontario employers and postsecondary faculty, as well as a follow-up study to assess the post-graduation outcomes of graduating student respondents.
The traditional pathway into postsecondary education (PSE) is to enter college or university directly after graduating from high school. Not all students follow the traditional pathway into PSE. The Ontario government recently set a goal “to raise the postsecondary [attainment] rate to 70 per cent” (Speech from the Throne, 2010). In 2011, 64 per cent of Ontario residents aged between 25 and 64 held a PSE credential.1 One way to help reach the target educational attainment rate of 70 per cent is for Ontario colleges and universities to attract and retain learners who follow non-traditional pathways. Therefore, one of the priorities of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) is to evaluate the adequacy and efficiency of non-traditional pathways in obtaining a PSE credential. This study mainly examined one non-traditional pathway, delayed
entry into PSE. Graduates who have taken more years than expected to graduate are also included in the discussion. The purpose of this paper is to address the following research questions:
• What is the demographic profile of these non-traditional graduates?
• Are their program choices and pathways through PSE different from those of direct entrants?
• Do their labour market outcomes differ from those of direct entrants?
Undergraduate Peer Helpers score higher on some skill competencies than do other students.
Peer Helpers, or Peers, are students who are trained through the University of Guelph’s Peer Helper Program (PHP) to assume paraprofessional roles focused on helping other students make successful transitions to, through and from the postsecondary learning environment. This study, funded by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), gathered data over three years, starting in 2009, to compare the skills levels of Peer Helpers to those of two groups of students: those engaged in student government and those not engaged as Peer Helpers or in student government roles. The study used a skills model called The Bases of Competence (Evers, Rush and Berdrow, 1998), which consists of four groupings of skills: ‘Managing Self,’ ‘Communicating,’ ‘Managing People & Tasks,’ and ‘Mobilizing Innovation & Change.’ Peers were found to have significantly higher competency scores on the ‘Mobilizing Innovation & Change’ competency than
students in the other two groups.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The OCUFA plan aims to dramatically enhance the quality and affordability of university education in Ontario by 2020 through increased government investment. We are also sensitive to the financial constraints the province is facing. As such, our recommendations reflect both the estimated minimum and maximum cost of our proposals. The Government of Ontario can choose to make a smaller investment as finances dictate. The important thing is that reinvestment begin now.
1. Increasing per-student public investment in universities to the national average by 2020.
Cost in 2013-14: A minimum of $120 million and a maximum of $280 million
2. Bringing the student-faculty ratio to the national average by 2020 by hiring new fulltime
Cost in 2013-2014: A minimum of $16 million and a maximum of $110 million
3. Freezing tuition fees and consulting with students, faculty, and administrators on a new
funding framework that preserves quality while ensuring affordability.
Cost in 2013-14: $170 million.
4. Increasing research funding to universities by phasing out ineffective tax credits for private sector research and development.
Cost in 2013-14: No additional cost.
5. Respecting faculty collective bargaining rights.
6. Engaging faculty meaningfully in pension reform.
University leaders are actively addressing the issue of mental health on campuses across Canada. No longer seen as simply a question of crisis management, mental health issues are being approached in more proactive and systematic ways, as universities increasingly appreciate the advantages of prevention over reaction. “We are exploring what we need as a sector to deal with mental health issues in the post-secondary setting,” says Dr. Su-Ting Teo, Director of Student Health and Wellness at Ryerson University. Dr. Teo is co-chair of a working group on mental health for the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), one of several inter-institutional organizations focusing on the issue. The key is to identify best practices and then put into action strategies and plans that work best for an individual institution
and its specific circumstances.
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.
In this article, we analyze a broad range of factors that affect the sense of belonging of undergraduate students taking a first-year academic literacy course (ALC) at a multicultural, multilingual university in Vancouver, Canada. Students who fail to meet the university’s language and literacy requirements are required to pass ALC before they can enrol in writing courses across the disciplines. Consequently, many of those students feel that they have yet to be accepted as fully legitimate members of the university community. We present data from a two-year, mixed-method study, which involved asking students in surveys and interviews about their sense of belonging, as well as analyzing their reflective writing samples for issues related to their sense of belonging. We found that the participants’ perceptions of sense of belonging are multilayered and context-dependent, relating to changes in time and space, classroom pedagogy, and other social, cultural, and linguistic factors. Implications for higher education are discussed.
New Faculty Orientations in Improving the Effectiveness of University Teaching.’ In the earlier published report, attention was directed at New Faculty Orientation (NFO) programs offered across Ontario’s twenty publicly-funded universities. The survey-derived data presented in the first report provide insights into the composition, strengths and drawbacks of the range of services offered to foster the pedagogical development of Ontario’s university faculty.
The purpose of this second report is to inquire into the availability of NFO programs across Ontario’s 24 publicly-funded community colleges.1 As in the first report, research presented herein is derived from an online survey instrument. Also like its counterpart, the present paper draws on survey-derived data in order to extend beyond questions about the prevalence of NFO programs in Ontario’s community college sector to also include discussion of more general teaching development services offered to faculty working within Ontario’s publicly-funded community colleges.
The programs featured in this research represent the two main approaches to international teaching assistant (ITA) preparation in Canada. The first is a traditional or general Teaching Assistant Training Program (TATP), in which ITAs participate in twenty hours of preparation for teaching in an interdisciplinary cohort, together with Canadian graduate students. The second program, ‘Teaching in the Canadian Classroom’ (TCC), is a training program designed especially for ITAs. ITAs participate in twenty hours of preparation for teaching in an interdisciplinary cohort, but only with other ITAs. Both programs include video-recorded microteaching sessions, during which teaching assistants (TAs) receive detailed feedback on a ten-minute lesson that they teach. Both programs also include modules on effective teaching techniques. What makes the ‘Teaching in the Canadian Classroom’ program unique is that it includes a substantial intercultural communication
component. This component addresses cultural differences in the role of instructors and students, expectations for student engagement in Canadian classrooms, and communication strategies that may help ITAs bridge cultural differences in communication styles with their students and their supervisors.
What sources and resources do college students utilize to assist them in the transfer process? What factors influence students’ transfer decisions? What information do students possess about transfer and of what quality is the transfer information students receive? This investigation interviews students of two-year College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) and Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning (ITAL) programs in the province of Ontario, Canada who identify intentions to transfer to university within their first semester in college. Grounding all analysis in Spence (1973), Akerlof (1970) and Stiglitz’s (1990) work on asymmetric information, adverse selection and signaling, this study examines students’ knowledge of transfer and their attainment of that knowledge. Policy recommendations for the further development of transfer assistance mechanisms and timing of implementation are provided.
Keywords: transfer credit; seamless education; asymmetric information; signalling.
Offering an array of support services to meet the diverse needs of post-secondary learners assumes that these services improve success by providing students with compensatory resources and opportunities for engagement (Purnell & Blank,
2004). Little Canadian research, however, has examined students’ use of support services. This study describes how campus support services are used by Ontario college students and factors that influence the uptake of those services. Results show that despite relatively high student-reported need, the majority of Ontario college students did not utilize most campus services. Age, gender and ethnicity, receptivity to support, negative college experiences, faculty referral, studying with peers, and poor grades were associated with increased use of some services. The findings argue for a proactive service delivery model using web-based resources to minimize location-based barriers and to more effectively promote services dedicated to student success.
Student participation in applied research as a form of experiential learning in community colleges is relatively new. Ontario Colleges today participate at different levels with different numbers of projects and faculty involved. A few colleges in Ontario are more established in doing applied research including having basic infrastructure for research and having defined in which disciplines they will conduct research. This study took place in a college with a more established applied research program with the study goal of hearing and listening from the students and their teacher/research leaders as to their perceived benefit from the research program. The findings showed that the students found the program very beneficial and that student learning in areas considered important for the workplace was occurring that would not have been possible in the regular classroom.
Walk into any college classroom and you’ll likely see some students concentrating intently on their note taking or on watching the instructor’s presentation. You’ll also likely see some students texting on their phones, checking Facebook
on their laptops or whispering with their neighbors. And perhaps some students have that distant look of daydreaming or the droopy head that signals a nap.
All of these behaviors reflect what students have come to expect while in the classroom: slide after slide of content, with barely enough time to write it all down, much less understand it on the spot. Even raising a hand for clarification can sometimes be out of the question if the instructor has already moved on or if a student is too embarrassed to ask in front of the entire class. And so students cope by either scrambling to keep up during class or by tuning out and hoping to catch up on the content later.
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.
Using a dataset containing nearly 500,000 courses taken by over 40,000 community and technical college students in Washington State, this study examines how well students adapt to the online environment in terms of their ability to persist and earn strong grades in online courses relative to their ability to do so in face-to-face courses. While all types of students in the study suffered decrements in performance in online courses, some struggled more than others to adapt: males, younger students, Black students, and students with lower grade point averages. In particular, students struggled in subject areas such as English and social science, which was due in part to negative peer effects in these online courses.
Media fragmentation is occurring at light speed in today’s multi-platform environment, which features not only computers, but smartphones, tablets, gaming platforms and a seemingly ever-increasing number of emerging devices.
The strong swelling of mobile audiences, devices and consumption habits have shown us that consumers have become more platform agnostic in their digital media consumption and happily switch devices throughout the day and into the night to stay up to date on email, news, social media etc.
comScore has been preparing for a future scenario where most people will consume content on the go and PCs would no longer be the center of the digital universe. This future is quickly becoming a reality.
The following report examines how the latest trends in web usage, online video, digital advertising, mobile, social media and e-commerce are currently shaping the Canada digital marketplace and what that means for the coming year
In March 2012, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations released its ”U.S. Education Reform and National Security” report calling attention to a distressing truth that many people have known for years: American students are lagging behind their international peers. This report laid out the implications in stark terms with a sense of urgency reminiscent of President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address, in which he called for the U.S. to ”outeducate” the rest of the world.
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).