09:33 AM


Centre focuses on how to increase graduation rates at Ontario colleges

Mohawk College is delving into what determines student success and how postsecondary institutions can ensure more students graduate, in the one-of-a-kind College Student Success Innovation Centre (CSSIC).

“We believe we can lead the province in student success research and share that knowledge broadly,“ said Dean of Students Tim Fricker.

Mohawk set a goal to improve retention and graduation rates a number of years ago that permeated every aspect of the college, he said. Many strategic initiatives met with significant success, including a shift in approach to probation letters and student goal-setting. The next step was figuring out what worked and why in order to bring real evidence to decisions and practices that can eventually be rolled out to other colleges.

“We were looking at who‘s staying, who‘s leaving, how can we can boost success.“ If early red flags are responded to quickly with targeted interventions, it can turn a student‘s experience around and set them on a path to success, said Fricker.

“Those who are most at risk often register late, have barriers in their way or come from marginalized populations. There is an equity piece here. We want to support faster those needing help the most. This is the right thing to do because it levels the playing field.“

After Mohawk secured a number of research grants through the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities awarded $650K to create a student success research centre. The CSSIC opened in April 2017.

“I couldn‘t have dreamed big enough to imagine such a centre at the college,“ Fricker said, crediting Dr. Wayne Poirier, Vice President, Student & Alumni Services, for the concept.

“If you have a program to improve student success, we want to try it. We are seeking out answers to problems by testing solutions scientifically.“