Researching Teaching and Student Outcomes in Postsecondary Education A Guide

Research Summary:

Improving student success: Guide helps practitioners assess teaching and learning

As the quality of higher education moves up on the public agenda, the scholarship of teaching and learning is moving front and centre in Ontario’s colleges and universities.

Among the signposts: teaching and learning centres at most Ontario postsecondary institutions; the emergence of high-profile teaching chair positions in the university sector; increasing attention to student success initiatives and now the publication of a guide to assessing teaching and learning.

Researching Teaching and Student Outcomes in Postsecondary Education: A Guide is produced by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) in collaboration with McMaster University’s Centre for Leadership in Learning (CLL) and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). It is also endorsed by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS). The free, 40-page online guide (available in English and French on the  HEQCO  CLL  CACUSS  and  STLHE  websites) provides a concise and reader-friendly introduction to research methods and techniques that encourage innovation and evaluation of practices to improve student success.

“The guide reflects a growing dedication to assessment and evaluation in teaching and learning, and more broadly to evidence-based practice in all issues related to student success,” says Richard Wiggers, HEQCO’s executive director of research and programs, and guide co-author.

Developed to provide an entry point for individuals who want to engage as researchers and evaluators of postsecondary educational outcomes, the guide will be of particular interest to college and university faculty members and educational developers seeking innovative approaches to enhanced learning, program administrators, student service providers and others who are interested in effective teaching and learning, and student success. 

Informed by a guide published in 2010 by the CLL, the new publication provides an overview of research protocols including methodology, sampling, ethics, data collection and analysis, interpretation, reporting and dissemination.

“Over the past decade there has been an upsurge of interest in research on teaching and learning and other kinds of student outcomes,” says Susan Vajoczki, director of the CLL and a driving force behind the 2010 McMaster publication. “The guide responds to this mounting interest, providing a valuable introduction for researchers new to the field.”

The other authors of Researching Teaching and Student Outcomes in Postsecondary Education: A Guide are HEQCO research consultants Susan Elgie (lead author), Ruth Childs, associate professor at OISE/University of Toronto; Betty Ann Levy (Professor Emeritus, McMaster University); and Valerie Lopes, professor in the Centre for Academic Excellence at Seneca College;  as well as Nancy E. Fenton, assistant professor (adjunct) at the University of Waterloo; and Karen Szala-Meneok, assistant professor and senior ethics advisor, McMaster University.