Previous ONCAT Project 2017-24 developed pathways between the Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology (HBK) degree program at Lakehead University and health, wellness, and physical fitness-related college diploma programs at Georgian and Canadore Colleges; those pathways are currently moving through the Lakehead institutional Senate approval process. The objective of the current project was to expand upon the foundation established in Project 2017-24 by incorporating a pan-northern, bi-directional approach encompassing four additional colleges (Cambrian, Boréal, Northern, and Sault) serving the educational needs of students in Northern Ontario.
Preliminary communication was with college administrators representing academic units encompassing health, wellness, and physical fitness-related programs (e.g., Health Sciences). The project team at Lakehead University initially identified a list of potential diploma programs from these academic units at each college that might be included for transfer pathway development. In some cases, personnel from each college indicated additional programs to be included, and/or programs to be excluded for various reasons.
Course outlines from partner colleges were obtained either via college websites or by email from college personnel. An initial review, completed by the Lakehead project team, identified courses with content that was potentially similar to content in the HBK curriculum. This information was used to first create spreadsheets, and then surveys, aligning similar courses. The surveys provided a means of collaboratively comparing courses based on descriptions, learner outcomes, and other content in a clear, simple, and accessible way.
In the previous Project 2017-24, a thorough review of all HBK course outlines was completed. This review included verifying and revising course outline content, as required, to include accurate, up-to-date course descriptions; clear, specific, and measurable learner outcomes; and consistent, standardized formatting. The current project (2018-11), therefore, did not require HBK course outlines to be inspected and/or revised in as much depth; however, outlines were still reviewed to ensure that they included all of the information that would be required for course comparison between institutions.
Surveys and supporting materials were distributed to contacts at Cambrian College, Collège Boréal, Northern College, and Sault College, as well as to HBK faculty. Results received from Cambrian, Boréal, Sault, and HBK representatives were then analyzed, summarized, and discussed at face-to-face meetings with parties from each institution. An initial exploratory meeting was conducted with representatives from Northern College; however, no comparative survey information was received. Following a discussion with the Dean of Health Sciences and Emergency Services at Northern College, it was mutually decided that they would subsequently withdraw from further analysis at this time.
Information gleaned from the surveys and subsequent meetings was then used to create transfer pathways from six (6) of the college diploma programs to the HBK. Potential transfer credits from the HBK to five (5) of the college diploma programs were also identified and shared with college partners for their use in developing potential degree-to-diploma pathways. The direction of each pathway reflects not only program content similarities, but also a recognition of degree/diploma combinations that would be most appealing and beneficial for future students.
The diploma-to-degree pathways developed are:
- Cambrian College Physical Fitness Management to HBK
- Collège Boréal Fitness & Health Promotion to HBK
- Collège Boréal Occupational Therapy Assistant & Physiotherapy Assistant to HBK
- Collège Boréal Massage Therapy to HBK
- Sault College Fitness & Health Promotion to HBK
- Sault College Occupational Therapist Assistant & Physiotherapist Assistant to HBK
The suggested potential degree-to-diploma pathways identified are:
- HBK to Cambrian College Physical Fitness Management
- HBK to Cambrian College Medical Radiation Technology
- HBK to Collège Boréal Medical Radiation Technology
- HBK to Collège Boréal Massage Therapy
- HBK to Collège Boréal Paramedic
As determined by the previous Project 2017-24, and reinforced by the current Project 2018-11, students transferring from college programs to the HBK would benefit from unique, targeted programming aimed specifically at enhancing the student transfer process; this programming includes a bridging module and a transfer course. While it is beyond the scope of these projects to develop the actual content for this programming, the inspiration for and development of the concept has been a direct outcome of the project process. This programming is currently being explored within the School of Kinesiology at Lakehead University, and is discussed briefly below.
The topics of anatomy and human physiology have consistently been identified as subject areas requiring further academic attention within the transition from college to university. Whereas health and fitness-related college programs usually require some anatomy and/or physiology courses, the depth and breadth of material is typically not equal to university courses on the same topics, leaving gaps in content that would potentially put the transfer student at a disadvantage. To address this, the School of Kinesiology is currently developing an online bridging module that will ensure that transfer students are provided with the academic content required to successfully continue in the HBK program. Incoming college transfer students whose programs have been identified as requiring advanced study of anatomy and human physiology will be required to complete this bridging module prior to commencement of the HBK program.
Additionally, development of a transfer course to cover other content identified through the detailed course comparison process, as well as material developed to enhance the transfer process, has been suggested. All transfer students would be required to take this course in first year with the intent being that it would assist in the creation of a cohort of transfer students, and provide the opportunity to address any concerns regarding social support, peer mentorship, university resources, and the overall transfer experience. Course content would be aimed at supplying additional tools and support necessary to enhance transfer student success at the university.
The identification and development of credit transfer pathways was the main focus of the previous Project 2017-24; however, one of the recommendations arising from that project was that future pathway development should additionally focus on the student experience, so as to not only create pathways, but also provide support for their future viability, maintenance, and success. As indicated by Project 2017-24 and existing literature on the topic, student transfer encompasses not only an academic domain, but psychosocial considerations as well. This recommendation was incorporated into the current Project 2018-11, with the overall student experience, rather than the academic component alone, being a guiding factor in the creation of the proposed pathways.