Along with the amount of time spent learning (or time-on-task), the quality of learning time has a real influence on learning performance. Quality of time in online learning depends on students’ time availability and their willingness to devote quality cognitive time to learning activities. However, the quantity and quality of the time spent by adult e-learners on
learning activities can be reduced by professional, family, and social commitments. Considering that the main time pattern followed by most adult e-learners is a professional one, it may be beneficial for online education programs to offer a certain degree of flexibility in instructional time that might allow adult learners to adjust their learning times to their professional constraints. However, using the time left over once professional and family requirements have been fulfilled could lead to a reduction in quality time for learning. This paper starts by introducing the concept of quality of learning time from an online student centred perspective. The impact of students’ time-related variables (working hours, timeon-task engagement, time flexibility, time of day, day of week) is then analyzed according to individual and collaborative grades achieved during an online master’s degree program. The data show that both students’ time flexibility (r = .98) and especially their availability to learn in the morning are related to better grades in individual (r = .93) and collaborative activities (r = .46).
Keywords: E-learning; computer-supported collaborative learning; academic performance;
e-learning quality; time flexibility; time-on-task; time quality; learner time
What is a mobile education environment?
Education today doesn’t need to take place within the confines of a school building, thanks to the Internet, wireless communication and mobile computing devices. Students and teachers are no longer required to be “stuck inside these four walls” for learning to take place. Teens whose body clocks don’t mesh with 7:15 a.m. class starts can sleep in — then do the work when they are at their mental peak (9 p.m., perhaps). Teachers, too, can gain increased flexibility in organizing their time. Lessons can be more easily tailored for students with whom they can work one-on-one with using interactive online programs. This is the promise of mobile learning, currently in place in some schools across the country. However, most K-12 schools are just starting to scratch the surface of what mobility can mean for education. Those that adapt to mobile technology will find it easier to reach students; research shows this sort of learning at the K-12 level improves student engagement, enthusiasm and test scores.
Invasive alien species (IAS) cause major environmental and economic damage worldwide,and also threaten human food security and health. The impacts of IAS are expected to rise with continued globalization, land use modification, and climate change. Developing effective strategies to deal with IAS requires a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, in which scientists work co-operatively with social scientists and policy-makers. Higher education can contribute to this process by training professionals to balance the ecological, economic, and social dimensions of the IAS problem. We examined the extent of such training in Canada by reviewing undergraduate and graduate university curricula at all 94 member nstitutions of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada for IAS content. We found that degree and diploma programs focusing on IAS issues are lacking at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Furthermore, few courses are devoted solely to IAS, and those that are typically adopt an ecological perspective. We argue that the absence of interdisciplinary university curricula on IAS in Canada negatively aff ects our ability to respond to this growing global challenge. We present several international educational programs on IAS as case studies on how to better integrate training on invasive species into university curricula in Canada.
Les espèces exotiques envahissantes (EEE) sont à l’origine d’importants dommages écologiques et économiques partout dans le monde, en plus de menacer la sécurité alimentaire et la santé humaine. On s’attend à ce que leurs eff ets prennent de l’ampleur devant la poursuite de la mondialisation, l’évolution de l’utilisation des sols et les changements climatiques.
L’élaboration de stratégies efficaces pour contrer les EEE exige une approche coopérative et interdisciplinaire, par laquelle des scientifiques travaillent en collaboration avec des spécialistes en sciences sociales et des esponsables de l’élaboration de politiques. L’enseignement supérieur peut y contribuer en formant des professionnels à trouver un équilibre entre les dimensions écologiques, économiques et sociales du problème des EEE. Nous avons étudié la portée d’une telle formation au Canada en révisant les programmes d’études universitaires des premier et second cycles de chacun des 94 établissements membres de l’Association des universités et collèges du Canada. Nous en avons conclu que les programmes menant à un grade ou à un diplôme et ciblant les problèmes liés aux EEE font défaut aux établissements postsecondaires canadiens. En outre, peu de cours se concentrent uniquement sur les EEE, et ceux qui le font adoptent habituellement une approche écologique. Nous faisons valoir que le manque de programmes universitaires interdisciplinaires portant sur les EEE au Canada entrave notre capacité à aff ronter ce défi mondial croissant. Nous présentons plusieurs programmes éducatifs internationaux sur les EEE, à titre d’études de cas pour mieux intégrer la formation sur les espèces envahissantes aux programmes universitaires du Canada.
Andrea L. Smith
Dawn R. Bazely
Norman D. Yan
This study examines the transformation of Manitoba’s post-secondary education system between 1967 and 2009 using legislative change to gauge structural change. The paper establishes the beginning of the contemporary post-secondary system with the 1967 decision of the Manitoba government to abandon the “one university” system model, a move akin to a “big bang,” redefining system norms and expectations, and setting direction which continues to be relevant today. The study revealed extensive structural change in Manitoba’s post-secondary system after 1997, the nature of which reflected the trends associated with globalization,but also reflecting the important influence that local forces have had in shaping the province’s post-secondary system.
Cette étude examine la transformation du système d’éducation post-secondaire manitobain entre 1967 et 2009, qui s’est faite par le biais de changements législatifs afin d’évaluer le changement structurel. Selon l’article, le système post-secondaire contemporain débute avec une décision prise en 1967 par le gouvernement du Manitoba, qui visait à abandonner le modèle systémique d’« une seule université »›. Semblable à un « big bang », cette décision redéfinissait les normes et les attentes du système d’éducation, en lui donnant une direction qui est encore pertinente à ce jour. L’étude a révélé la présence d’un changement structurel important dans le système d’éducation post-secondaire au Manitoba après 1997, dont la nature reflète non seulement les tendances associées à la mondialisation, mais aussi l’influence significative qu’ont eues les forces locales dans l’élaboration du système d’étude post-secondaire de cette province.
Manitoba’s Council on Post-Secondary Education
What are digital textbooks?
Today’s K-12 students have grown up with technology. Most wouldn’t dream of looking up information in a hardbound dictionary or encyclopedia; they turn to Internet search engines when they have questions, perhaps using a smartphone or tablet. News comes not on newsprint, but from Google News; writing to friends means Facebook, not a letter (what’s that?); phone books and watches are artifacts from another age. Yet such digital natives are often expected to attend schools equipped with aging, heavy, hardbound textbooks — some a decade old and outdated (history texts that remind them that the U.S. has never elected an African-American president, for example). They then are asked to tote five or six or more such books from school to home each day.
Enter the digital textbook, defined as anything stored on a digital medium that can be transmitted through various
digital devices over computer networks, including the Internet. Students can access digital books on e-readers, tablets and smartphones; and on netbooks, laptops or desktop computers. Because the books can be read on mobile devices, the materialcan travel with students just as a physical textbook can, but in a much lighter and more compact way (no more overstuffed backpacks). Textbooks displayed on digital devices can take advantage of Web 2.0 tools: multi-media features (video and audio clips); interactivity (quizzes, games); the ability to search and annotate text; text-to-speech functionality; and customizable (and current) content. In the classroom, teachers can project digital content from these books onto interactive whiteboards and engage the class in viewing material together. Notes taken on the interactive whiteboard can be stored and saved to each student’s laptop, tablet, netbook or smartphone, while students can use their digital devices to submit answers to quizzes or problems. All of these features make digital textbooks more relevant to today’s students, who then become more engaged in learning.
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
The demands on academic staff in all sectors to adopt best ODL practices to create effective and efficient models of learning in the face of increasing external pressures show no signs of abating. The massification of higher education, diversified access, and pressures to meet institutional visions and research objectives demand of teaching staff an increasingly public design process subject to peer review in numerous forms. Expectations of systematized pedagogical planners and embedded templates of learning within the institutional virtual learning environments (VLEs) have, so far, failed to deliver the institutional efficiencies anticipated. In response, a new model of learning design is proposed with a practical, accessible, and freely available “toolkit” that embodies and embeds pedagogical theories and practices. The student-owned learning-engagement (SOLE) model aims to support professional development within practice, constructive alignment, and holistic visualisations, as well as enable the sharing of learning design processes with the learners themselves.
Keywords: Learning design; constructive alignment; pedagogical planners; toolkit
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning
Embodied and Embedded Theory in Practice: The Student-Owned Learning-Engagement (SOLE) Model
London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
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.
In a context of increasing attention to issues of scientific integrity in university research, it is important to reflect on the governance mechanisms that universities use to shape the behaviour of students, researchers, and faculty. This paper presents the results of a study of 47 Canadian university research ntegrity/misconduct (RIM) policies: 41 institutions (87%) had distinct policies dealing with research misconduct, 37 (90%) of which took the form of research integrity/misconduct policies. For each of these 41 documents, we assessed the stated policy objectives and the existence (or not) of procedures for managing allegations of misconduct, definitions of misconduct, and sanctions. Our analysis revealed that, like their American counterparts, most Canadian universities had policies that contained the key elements relevant to protecting research integrity and managing misconduct. Yet, there was significant variability in the structure and content of these policies, particularly with regard to practical guidance for university personnel and review bodies.
UniversitÃ© de MontrÃ©al
Shifting from an emphasis on teaching to learning is a complex task for both teachers and students. This paper reports on a qualitative study of teachers in a nurse specialist education programme meeting this shift in a distance education course. The study aimed to gain a better understanding of the teacher-student relationship by addressing research questions in relation to the students' role, the learning process, and the assessment process. A didactical design comprising three phases focusing on distinct learning outcomes for the course was adopted. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with teachers and were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The results indicate a shift towards a problematising and holistic approach to teaching, learning, and assessment. This shift highlighted a teacher-student relationship with a shared responsibility in the orchestration of the learning experience. The overall picture outlines a distance education experience of process-based assessment characterised by the imposition of teachersâ€™ rules and a lack of creativity due to the limited role of ICT merely as a container of content.
Keywords: Distance education; higher education; e-learning
Online learning and digital interaction is pervasive in todayâ€™s educational environment.
Where rich multimedia content once was an exception, it's increasingly the rule in K-12 and college classrooms. Blended or hybrid courses that mix elements of traditional classroom learning with online education are the norm in many school districts and universities. And completely online courses â€” not to mention entirely virtual colleges and school districts â€”
are emerging with growing frequency. But educational institutions arenâ€™t just delivering learning content differently; theyâ€™re interacting digitally with the diverse stakeholders that make up the education community.
For instance, students access grades and transcripts online. Parents monitor student attendance electronically and e-mail teachers with their concerns. Students and teachers collaborate via social networks. School staff members conduct common employee transactions â€” choosing benefits, booking vacation time, etc. â€” through district Web portals. And the list goes on.
Yet, the vast potential of online learning and digital interaction comes with significant technology challenges. Broadening learning opportunities through multimedia tools, offering remote access to educational content, and letting users remotely tap into school data and systems demands that schools manage new levels of IT complexity and adopt more sophisticated approaches to IT security. This guidebook is designed to help educational institutions deal with these issues.
Weâ€™ll examine significant trends in online learning to gain an understanding of what colleges and school districts need to prepare for. Itâ€™s clear that technology is changing teaching models â€” both inside and outside of the traditional classroom. Funding reductions for public universities are forcing higher education institutions to reconsider the delivery model for college courses. Governors and mayors pressure school districts to improve student performance â€” especially in critical subjects like science and math. Educators and administrators search for effective and affordable approaches for keeping at-risk students in school and helping special-needs students succeed. Online learning and new forms of digital interaction play a growing and evolving role in all these issues. But if technology is going to answer these challenges, the IT environment must be simplified. Therefore, weâ€™ll present strategies for managing growing technological complexity. Students, parents, teachers and administrators expect 24/7 access to course material, grades, attendance, admissions and more. What's more, they want to access that information from a dizzying array of devices, from traditional desktops and laptops, to smartphones and slick new tablets. Some of those devices may be owned and managed by the educational institution â€” but a growing number of them are not. How do you respond to all of this without deploying hundreds of conflicting applications and hiring an army of expensive IT professionals to keep it all straight? Weâ€™ll show you some solutions through powerful technologies like endpoint virtualization.
This paper analyzes the ideological orientations of Canadian university professors based on a unique 2000 study of a representative sample of Canadian academics (n=3,318). After summarizing methodological problems with extant research on this subject, and tentatively comparing the political views of Canadian and American academics, the paper demonstrates that Canadian academics fall to the left of the political spectrum but are not hugely different in this respect from the Canadian university-educated population. Multivariate analyses reveal considerable heterogeneity in the ideological views of Canadian professors, suggesting that contemporary characterizations of the North American professoriate as left- or right-leaning tend to be overdrawn. Multivariate analyses demonstrate the importance of disadvantaged status and disciplinary socialization in shaping professors’ ideological views, although self selection processes are not discounted.
Cet article analyse les orientations idéologiques des professeurs des universités canadiennes selon une étude unique datant de l’an 2000 et portant sur un échantillon représentatif composé de 3 318 professeurs d’université du Canada. Après avoir résumé les problèmes méthodologiques avec une recherche approfondie sur le sujet, puis tenté de comparer les vues politiques de professeurs d’universités canadiennes et américaines, l’article démontre que les professeurs d’université du Canada se situent à la gauche de l’éventail politique,sans être très différents de l’ensemble des diplômés universitaires du Canada. Les analyses
multidimensionnelles révèlent une hétérogénéité considérable des vues idéologiques des professeurs canadiens, suggérant ainsi que les aractérisations contemporaines selon lesquelles le professorat nord-américain se situe soit vers la droite, soit vers la gauche, ont tendance à être à exagérées. Les analyses multidimensionnelles démontrent l’importance de la socialisation disciplinaire et du statut de défavorisé pour former les vues idéologiques des professeurs, même si les processus d’autosélection ne sont pas pris en compte.
M. Reza Nakhaie
University of Windsor
Robert J. Brym
University of Toronto
This paper focuses on the gendered nature of elite academic careers. Of interest is how similar or diff erent the experiences are of women and men who have been appointed to Canada Research Chairs (CRCs). In particular, we examine the impacts of holding a CRC position and consider the factors that shape that experience for women and men. Based on interviews with 60 CRCs, we find that when women and men are given similar opportunities, their experiences are more alike than diff erent. Where diff erences arise, these are often related to the experience of status/prestige associated with the CRC, and to family care responsibilities. Using expectation states theory, we demonstrate that when women are equal to men, the significance of gender as a determinant of the academic experience is diminished.
Cette étude se concentre sur l’influence du genre dans l’élite des carrières académiques. L’intérêt porte surtout sur le degré de similarité ou de diff érence entre les expériences des femmes et des hommes nommés à des postes de chaires de recherche du Canada (CRC). Nous examinons en particulier les répercussions sur les femmes et les hommes titulaires de CRC en tenant compte des facteurs qui forment l’expérience de ces individus. Nos entrevues avec 60 titulaires de CRC, nous mènent à conclure que les femmes et les hommes obtiennent des occasions similaires et que leurs expériences sont plus semblables que différentes. Lorsque des différences se présentent, elles sont plus souvent liées à l’expérience du statut et du prestige associés à la position de titulaire de CRC et à ses responsabilités familiales. En utilisant la théorie des états d’anticipation, nous démontrons que, lorsque les femmes sont égales aux hommes, la signification du genre en tant que déterminant de l’expérience académique est diminuée.
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 exploration of study orchestrations emphasises students’ active participation in learning, describing the ways in which they marshal the resources available to them in response to their learning environment. This study reports the identification of study orchestrations in a group of distance students and identifies the existence of dissonant study orchestrations, which previous research has linked with poor achievement, in approximately one-fifth of the group. Data came from responses by 176 students to the ASSIST questionnaire. The data was subject to factor analysis to ensure commensurability with previous studies, and then cluster analysis was used to identify groups with similar study orchestrations. Four clusters were identified. One of these was clearly dissonant, pointing toward problematic links between learning environments and student approaches to study. The implications of dissonant study orchestrations are explored and further research is suggested, along with implications for the practice of distance educators.
Keywords: Approaches to study; study orchestrations; metacognition; higher education
The founding of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education took place over 40 years ago and this year marks the 40th anniversary of its critically important Canadian Journal of Higher Education. It is time to look back, and time to imagine the future of both the Society and the Journal. I attended that intimate founding meeting in Winnipeg. It was held on May 29, 1970. With no more than 40 people in attendance, we listened to the late Edward (Ted) Sheffield open the meeting. He had prepared a paper in 1969 on “Canadian Research in Higher Education.” He told us that it was only an “impressionistic survey but it served to highlight the fact that research in this field is being undertaken by a great variety of persons in a great variety of organizations: universities, voluntary associations, and government agencies.” Ted Sheffield noted, however, that little research in higher education was being conducted in university faculties of education. Underscoring that Canada was slow to make higher education a specialized field of study, he reminded the audience that Robin S. Harris, Canada’s first Professor of Higher Education, was appointed in 1964. Six years later, Ted Sheffield summarized the progress observing that “the Higher Education Group at the University of Toronto has increased to four and there is now a good deal of activity. . . at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.” In addition, he noted the emergence of recent program initiatives at the Universities of British Columbia, Calgary, and Alberta.
Keywords: Canadian Society for Studies in Higher Education; Glen Jones
The use of a participant survey, administered at the outset of an online course, can provide information useful in the management of the learning environment and in its subsequent redesign. Such information can clarify participants’ prior experience, expectations, and demographics. But the very act of enquiring about the learner also signals the instructor’s social presence, relational interest, and desire to enter into an authentic dialogue. This study examines the use of participant surveys in online management courses. The first section discusses the informational bridges that this instrument provides. The second section considers survey responses to open-ended questions dealing with student sentiments. This analysis suggests that the survey plays a valuable part in accentuating social presence and in initiating relational bridges with participants.
Keywords: Instructional design; instructional management; social presence; learner engagement; relational dialogue
As video-based instructional materials become available to distance learners to learn practical skills at a distance, it is important to assess the instructional effectiveness of these materials and to understand how students respond to them. This paper is the second part of a larger exploratory study that assessed the instructional effectiveness of video-based instructional materials for teaching distance learners practical skills in block-laying and concreting and how learners respond to these instructional materials. Specifically, this paper aims to assess learners’ acceptance and satisfaction with the materials. It also aims to determine whether levels of learner satisfaction and acceptance differ according to study centres. Data were collected from 71 respondents at three study centres using a self-completion questionnaire comprising 17 Likert-type items. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and Scheffe’s post hoc test at a 0.05 level of significance. Learners appeared positive about their learning experiences with the use of video-based instructional materials to learn practical skills at a distance as they rated highly all the items assessing their acceptance and satisfaction. Results of item-by-item ANOVA regarding learner acceptance indicated that the respondents, categorized according to study centres, exhibited similar levels of acceptance for nine of the ten items. For learner satisfaction, there were no statistically significant differences for six of the seven items. Thus, learners of different study centres exhibited about the same level of acceptance and satisfaction.
Keywords: Block-laying and concreting; distance learning; learner acceptance; learner satisfaction; technical and vocational education and training (TVET); technology acceptance model (TAM); video-based instructional materials International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning
Vol. 12.5 June – 2011
Assessment of Learner Acceptance and Satisfaction with Video-Based Instructional Materials for Teaching Practical Skills at a Distance
Francis Donkor, University of Education, Winneba, Ghana
An important goal of Ontario’s postsecondary education system is to provide the appropriate level of educational attainment to meet the current and future human capital needs of the province (HEQCO, 2009: 19). This purpose reflects the recognition that education and training contribute to the human capital of individuals and make them more productive workers and better informed citizens. Attainment of further education not only provides for individual returns such as higher earnings and lower levels of unemployment , improved health and longevity, and greater satisfaction with life, but it is also strongly linked to social returns such as safer communities, healthy citizens, greater civic participation, stronger social cohesion and improved equity and social justice (Riddell, 2006). In order for the province to maintain and enhance its economic standing in the changing global economy, and to provide its citizens with the social benefits that higher education affords, it must ensure that the human capital needs of its society are met.
In pursuit of this objective, the Ontario government, most recently through its “Open Ontario Plan,” aims to raise the postsecondary attainment rate of those aged 25 to 64 to 70 per cent and to provide a place for every qualified Ontarian who desires to pursue a college or university education (Government of Ontario, 2010). The future “stock” of human capital required to achieve this attainment rate will need to come from three sources: Ontarians entering the labour force for the first time who may already have postsecondary credentials or may be in the process of acquiring them; new interprovincial and international migrants; and finally, through additions to postsecondary credentials by those who have already entered the labour force (HEQCO, 2009: 25). It is this latter population of individuals, often referred to as adult learners, with which this @Issue paper is concerned.
If it is acknowledged that adult learners must be one of the sources of the stock of human capital required for Ontario to achieve an attainment rate of 70 per cent, then an understanding of adult learners, the issues that they face and how those issues can best be addressed is vital. Government targets aside, it is becoming increasingly recognized that in the current knowledge-based economy, with its advancements in technology and rapidly changing skill requirements, learning must take place throughout the lifetime of an individual. The traditional concentration of education in earlier stages of life will no longer necessarily support individuals throughout their working lives. Initial education plays a large part in developing the potential of an
individual, but it is becoming increasingly important for adults to pursue the development of new skills and competencies and the upgrading of existing ones.
This @Issue Paper will attempt to explore the status of adult learners in Ontario’s postsecondary education system through:
• an examination of the demand for adult education in Ontario;
• an overview of how colleges and universities are meeting the demand for adult education;
• an evaluation of factors affecting adult learners in postsecondary accessibility and success; and
• potential policy implications to promote and improve the participation of adult learners in postsecondary education.
Examples of programs and services from Ontario institutions will be used to illustrate the state of the field in adult education, but the paper is not intended to provide a comprehensive inventory of offerings.
The Alternative to Academic Suspension Program (AASP) ran as a pilot program in fall 2009 to address the skill development of students facing suspension at Brock University. Initial results of the program indicate positive results with students persisting in their programs. In total, there were 445 students facing academic suspension, and 42 per cent of those students participated in the AASP pilot. Participants in the AASP were required to successfully complete the program,pass all credits taken during the academic year (maximum of three) and achieve an overall session average of at least 60 per cent to be eligible to continue studies. Failure to meet any of the conditions resulted in academic suspension at the end of the academic year. Of the 187 students participating in the AASP pilot, 50 per cent returned to studies in the fall of 2010, compared to only 17 per cent of those students facing suspension who did not to participate. When considering all students facing suspension, AASP participants represented over two-thirds of the returning students in fall 2010. Not only are the participants persisting with studies, but the participants are improving their overall averages as well.
While overall academic averages can be difficult to change, of the 94 AASP participants returning to studies in 2010, 92.5 per cent of them were able to increase their overall average. Considering that AASP participants were limited to a maximum of three credits, it is encouraging that so many of the returning AASP participants were able to achieve this result. The participants are moving from being at risk of not completing their programs to completion with improved overall averages.
The current analysis reflects a positive short-term impact on retention. Continued analysis would examine a long-term assessment of the program and whether students can maintain their initial success as they continue in their studies at Brock. Other key findings from the report include:
• In 2009, students within two years of entry into Brock and facing suspension participated at a higher rate than those students facing suspension who had entered prior to 2007.
• Although 94 AASP participants returned to studies in 2010, there were 116 AASP participants (62 per cent of total AASP enrollment) eligible to continue studies at Brock University in 2010. We are unable to track whether the eligible participants not returning to Brock have gone to other institutions or chosen to end their postsecondary studies.
Surveys and focus groups from eligible AASP participants not returning to studies at Brock would be beneficial to understand what choices these students made and why they made them.
Further study needs to be completed to understand the longer-term impact of the AASP. In addition to driving internal program improvements, further study could also help develop strategies to identify and support at-risk students at other universities.