Today we had a chat with Dr. Rod Missaghian, Researcher.
What’s your role at ONCAT?
I conduct various transfer-related research projects. I am part of the broader policy and programs team at ONCAT and work closely with the Senior Researcher to develop internal research projects that align with our organizational mandate. I am currently working on a qualitative study about faculty perceptions on transfer. I also assist the Senior Researcher and Funding Manger with developing research streams and reviewing proposals from our sector partners.
What did you do before joining the organization? And what experience did you have with postsecondary transfer prior to working here?
Prior to joining ONCAT I was a PhD candidate in sociology, and before that a teacher. I successfully defended my dissertation while employed at ONCAT. My doctoral research, while not directly focused on transfer, is strongly associated with many relevant transfer issues, such as student decision-making, pathways, and outcomes. As a sociologist of education, my knowledge of student inequalities, both structural and individual, have direct relevance with understanding who transfers, and why, as well as the socio-demographic factors that help influence those decisions. Sociologists are also interested in the organizational features of education systems, and this has helped me understand the multi-faceted structures of postsecondary which can influence transfer outcomes.
How does your work advance ONCAT’s mission to improve transfer students’ experiences in Ontario? And why does ONCAT’s mission resonate with you?
Everything I research comes back to our core mission, which is to improve student experiences. Whether it’s to understand transfer policies abroad or the role faculty play in evaluation, the end-game is helping students get the credits they deserve for the work they put in. My interest in qualitative research can help ONCAT develop insights pulled directly from our stakeholders (students, advisors, faculty, etc.) and help make those presentable to a wide audience.
Transfer students make up a relatively small amount of the Ontario postsecondary student population—approximately 6-9%. Why do you think postsecondary institutions should still focus on improving transfer student experiences?
You never know when a minority will become the majority. While small in numbers, relatively speaking, transfer students represent a potential growth population. Mature students, those who work part-time while in school, as well as those looking to upgrade their education, figure to be important in an ever-changing economy. Besides, all students are important.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about postsecondary education—or student transfer—since starting your work at ONCAT?
I’m astounded by the machinery of higher education, and the complexity involved in getting students into and out of programs successfully. With complexity come expectations for a coherent system. I’m continually surprised to discover, each day, the infinite ways that we can continue to improve our transfer system and help guide students successfully through this process.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Research can be mentally draining, so there can be moments of mental exhaustion. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you could give any advice to yourself as a student, what would you say?
Don’t take it all too seriously. Work hard, be sincere, and accept the outcome.
Just for fun …
What’s your go-to restaurant or recipe?
Abruzzo Pizza in Thornhill. Absolutely legendary Panzerotti. My go-to food when I’m in a rush is chicken pesto fusilli. When I’m not in a rush, Persian soup with fresh ingredients.
What’s the first place you would want to travel to in a post-pandemic world?
Cats or dogs?
I like both.
Any great books or movies you’ve enjoyed recently and want to recommend?