At the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), one of our focuses is on advancing institutional innovations that support collaboration and student mobility. An exciting type of pathway development that has recently emerged out of this area of emphasis has been Pathways for Remediation.
While different institutions may have different versions of this concept, referred to by varied terms, generally these are pathways wherein students who are struggling academically and are required to withdraw from a given university program, are able to take up study through a partnering college. Upon successful completion, the students can transition back to the university to complete their degree.
These “boomerang” pathways, are paving the way for novel outlooks on student mobility, through the lens of access.
Entering university can be an equally exciting and challenging experience for many students. As such, not totally uncommon is the case that a student may end up being required to withdraw from studies due to academic performance. Failure to succeed is often due to academic (ex. different learning needs, lack of study skills, poor time management, etc.), social, and/or personal barriers (ex. long commutes, need to work, family commitments, anxiety, stress, etc.), with marginalized groups disproportionately impacted by such factors.
Many institutions have policies that prevent readmission of a student until a certain suspension period has been complete, but few have remedial mechanisms to address difficulties before returning to studies. Left unattended to, such external issues can greatly decrease the chances of students’ earning a credential.
With these realities in mind, in 2015 three project teams from six of ONCAT’s member public colleges and universities in Ontario – Trent and Fleming, UOIT and Durham, and Seneca and York – set off to create pathways that redirect suspended students, through programs that balanced the need to support academic progress, with retaining credits earned.
Efforts in Trent & Fleming’s 2015-34 project centered on 1-1 college to university equivalents. In this way there would be no need for a summer bridge/off-term study. Collaboration between faculty and administration at all stages was key to this success.
Trent course outlines were shared with Fleming, and joint faculty meetings were held to discuss course pedagogy. Beyond this process enabling “great student success models”, Hailey Wright, Trent Coordinator of Articulation and Transfer Pathways, and Co-Lead Coordinator of the project, also found it to be a “really good opportunity to strengthen our institutional relationship”.
The remediation pathway also maintained three distinct entry points: traditional Fleming recruitment and admission processes, Trent’s redirect upon application, and Trent’s suspension redirect process. Wright, shares that, “having diversity in students level of learning…is important, in particular in foundation programs…[and for] ensuring there is viability in the program”.
At a time when postsecondary education is increasingly foundational to building opportunities and success for all Ontarians, programs that are responsive and flexible are more important than ever. Supporting students when their goals or needs change, means facilitating and building pathways for greater mobility. “The definition of a traditional student in the way that we have envisioned it for the last several decades has really changed, and I think university and college structures are starting to catch up and support that. It’s an exciting time for students, and the work through ONCAT and ONTransfer.ca, to help institutions do the work that we’re doing, is really important”, reflects Wright.
Ultimately, unconventional routes through postsecondary education, like those provided by retention pathways, empower students to obtain the academic education best suited for them.
Projects & Participating Institutions: