Ontario’s professors and academic librarians are on the front lines of Ontario’s universities. They are uniquely positioned to assess the performance of the sector, and to identify trends that affect the quality of university education.
To take advantage of this insight, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) surveyed Ontario faculty to gauge their opinions on the quality of university education in our province. The survey was also designed to assess the priorities of university faculty, particularly in regards to the balance of teaching and research in their work.
The survey was conducted online between March 21, 2012 and April 16, 2012. Responses to the questionnaire were received from over 2,300 faculty members, with a total of 2,015 complete responses from professors and academic librarians from all Ontario universities and a full range of disciplines. The following report presents the survey findings and provides additional commentary about key results.
Are we in danger of losing the American Dream? The 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges recently concluded that we are. Incomes are stagnating, the middle class is shrinking, and the prom- ise that every child has opportunity—the promise of upward mobility—is fading.
These downturns are associated with declining educational attainment rates in the United States relative to other developed countries—and with the fact that our nation’s distribution of education is as polarized as its distribution of wealth.
America needs a highly educated population to strengthen our place in the world market, grow our economy, and engage in our democracy. But we cannot have an educated workforce and citizenry if our current reality persists. Today, White students are earning college degrees at substantially higher rates than are both Black students and Latino students. We are also seeing a growing gender gap. Women have been outpacing men in undergraduate degree attainment since the mid-1990s. In 2011, U.S.
women surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees earned as well.
The community college field is evolving dramatically. It has been 10 years since the Center for Community College Student Engagement presented results from the first national administration of its flagship survey. Over the past decade, institutions enrolling more than 80% of U.S. community college students have used Center surveys to assess their students’ engagement so they can improve institutional practice and student outcomes. This focus on engagement is one of many changes in the ways community colleges are using data to understand and improve the educational experiences of their students.
Now, as colleges increasingly understand the importance of intentionally engaging students, the field must turn to the game-changing challenge: bringing high-impact practices to scale as part of a concerted effort to increase college completion rates. In an era of growing demand, shrinking budgets, and greater accountability, meeting this challenge requires singular focus. Colleges must make decisions—about every hour spent, every dollar allocated, every policy set, and every practice implemented—based on whether those decisions will make engagement inescapable for large numbers of their students.
It’s usually late in the job interview when I pose one of my favorite questions to faculty and administrative candidates — after they’ve already spent a good amount of time talking about their work in the loftiest of terms. They’ve described their guiding values and philosophies and touted their most-successful projects and lessons. That’s when I say: “So far we've talked about the visionary aspects of your position. Now I'd like to talk about the execution. Specifically, much of teaching/administrating is small and procedural. Tell me how you handle the ‘boring basics.’”
Student financial stability is a critically important facet of the improvement work in which so many community colleges around
the country are engaging. The financial stability data that the Center explores here go hand-in-hand with the guided pathways
reform that is sweeping the country and with Beyond Financial Aid,1 which I developed with Lumina Foundation. Taken together they give colleges a powerful opportunity to ensure that significantly more students complete their journeys with us and move directly into the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution.
Everything about the college presidency today seems to be unsettled, including the career pathways new presidents take on the way to the top job on campus.
Current presidents face a slew of new challenges as demographics drive colleges and universities to enroll increasingly diverse student bodies with new sets of needs, as financial constraints impose harsh realities on institutions, and as technology threatens to upend the campus and the workplace. At the same time, the professional ladders leaders climb on the way to becoming presidents is changing -- just as a large number of long-serving presidents are expected to soon retire.
In our second annual student survey, Maclean’s reached more than 17,000 students at almost every university campus across the country. They told us how often they’ve cheated as well as how much time they spend studying, partying, working and on extracurricular activities. It is one of the largest surveys of its kind and provides a wideranging snapshot of student life on university campuses across the country in real time.
Respondents also told us whether they feel their school has prepared them for the workplace, offering insight into which universities—and which programs—are doing the best job preparing students for the real world. St. Francis Xavier came out on top for this one measure, with 53% of students strongly agreeing they had the skills and knowledge needed for employment. For some programs, the results were even better, with 71% of St. FX nursing students saying they’d been well prepared. We also asked whether the schools helped with writing ability, with St. Thomas ranking first on that front. In addition, we surveyed professors to see whether incoming university students had the academic skills needed for success.
Putting Students In Charge of Their Learning
Through inquiry, Wildwood works to ignite passion, inspire relevance, and develop ownership in their students. Using student inquiries and questions as guidance, teachers develop lessons that engage and excite, teaching their students to be active thinkers rather than passive learners.
Last semester, I had a student who did so well on his second paper — after doing very poorly on his first — that I got suspicious. I must have Googled every sentence in that second essay, looking for evidence that he had lifted it from someone else. I even called him into my office and grilled him about his process, trying to catch him out. I couldn't believe that the same student had written both papers.
But I was wrong. He hadn't plagiarized. He was responsible both for the terrible paper at the beginning of the term and the excellent one later on. Eventually I learned that he’d been struggling with some personal issues earlier in the semester — issues that kept him from spending enough time on that first paper.
A growing body of research shows that college students who enroll full-time, taking even 12 credits’ worth of course work in a single semester, are much more likely stick with college, save money and eventually graduate.
Yet while the researchers behind these studies encourage efforts to nudge more students to go full-time (ideally taking 30 credits in a year), they warn against neglecting the many who will continue to attend part-time because of work and family demands -- currently only 38 percent of community college students are enrolled full-time, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
The timing is right for a sustainability dialogue in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) has been working on a trifecta of key postsecondary policy levers for which institutional and system sustainability are an essential consideration. These include the next round of Strategic Mandate Agreement negotiations, a funding formula review and the recently announced tuition fee framework. We can — and should — use these tools to mitigate sustainability risk moving forward.
When it comes to connecting with students, good relationships and good rapport go hand in hand. The desired rapport develops when faculty are friendly, approachable, respectful, and caring toward students. And how do students respond to professors who’ve established good rapport? They “like” those professors, and that’s the point at which some of us experience a bit of nervous twitching. If students like us, does that mean they learn more? Does education hinge on the popularity of the professor? The ethical ground feels stronger if what students learn and take from their educational experiences results from actions that support learning. And that circles us right back to rapport and the powerful role it plays in determining how students respond to the content in our courses, their daily attendance, and the study time they devote to what we’re teaching. Student commitment to a course increases if rapport with the instructor is good. So, be nice, chat with students, and show that you love teaching.
Student engagement and transcript data from the Center for Community College Student Engagement demonstrate the benefits of attending college full-time. Students who attend fulltime for even one semester have an edge—the full-time edge—that is reflected in their higher rates of engagement, completion of gateway courses, persistence, and credential attainment.
Given these findings, colleges should consider asking every student one straightforward question: “Is there any way you could attend college full-time, even for one semester?”
For more than 10 years, the Center for Community College Student Engagement has worked with colleges to answer the most important question in higher education: How can we best restructure policy and practice to help the most students succeed?
The Center—along with Achieving the Dream, the Community College Research Center, Completion by Design, and other efforts—has led the field in understanding and using data to improve practice. Now, findings from more than 10 years of CCSSE survey administrations show an unmistakable trend: consistent, continuous improvement in engagement.
What does it actually take to teach a college class nowadays in our age of distraction?
For some faculty, the answer is technology — PowerPoints, laptops, visual aids. But technology is itself a distraction. And what if you are the kind of teacher who likes chalk and blackboards, discussions around a table, and hard-copy texts and handouts. How do you get, and keep, their attention?
Entering the room to the obligatory unsettledness at the beginning of every class period, you wonder: How long would it take them to settle down if you didn't say anything?
Climate change is a pressing concern. Higher education can address the challenge, but systematic analyses of climate change in education policy are sparse. This paper addresses this gap in the literature by reporting on how Canadian postsecondary educational institutions have engaged with climate change through policy actions. We used descriptive quantitative methods to
analyze climate change-specific policies from a representative sample of 50 institutions across Canada and found that nearly half had some form of climate policy. Existing policies were then qualitatively analyzed. We found that the most common form of response focused on the built campus environment, with underdeveloped secondary responses focused on research, curriculum, community outreach, and governance policies. We consider the motivations for such institutional action and end with implications for policy makers and future research.
Baylor University’s newly named president, Linda A. Livingstone, has had a long career in higher education. But there’s one position that’s not on her résumé: provost.
Increasingly, that’s not an unusual step to skip, according to a report, released on Wednesday, that analyzed 840 college presidents’ CVs. While serving as provost was once a clear steppingstone on the way to the president’s office, many deans are now moving straight into the top job, according to the report, which was issued by Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for 21st Century Universities.
The findings from 20 years of research on undergraduate education have been unequivocal: The more actively engaged students are — with college faculty and staff, with other students, and with the subject matter they study — the more likely they are to learn, to stick with their studies, and to attain their academic goals.
The existing literature, however, focuses almost exclusively on students in four-year colleges and universities. This special report provides summary highlights from a large-scale research project that examined, for the first time, relationships between student engagement and a variety of student outcomes — including academic performance, persistence and attainment — in community colleges. The bottom line for community colleges: Student engagement matters.
In 2004, the Lumina Foundation for Education approved a generous grant to support validation research to explore and document the validity of the Community College Student Report (CCSR), add to the higher education field’s understanding of student engagement, and help to identify research or institutional practices that require further attention. The study was conducted in three strands that linked Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) respondents with external data sources: (1) data from the Florida Department of Education; (2) data from the Achieving the Dream project; and (3) student record databases maintained at community colleges that have participated in the CCSSE survey and are either Hispanic-Serving Institutions or members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). All participating students had participated in the 2002, 2003, or 2004 administrations of the Community College Student Report, CCSSE’s survey instrument.
How students respond to failure is a strong predictor of future success.
Emerging research suggests that for students to fare better, they need to fail better. How students respond to failure is a strong predictor of future success, and the notion of resilience is increasingly prevalent in conversations about higher education. Resilience has a number of characteristics, including levels of persistence, effort, positive mindset, motivation and self-regulation.