One of HEQCO’s more extensive research undertakings was the development of two separate research groups: the Learning Outcomes Assessment Consortium (LOAC) and the Access and Retention Consortium (ARC). Both are tied to key areas of HEQCO’s research and sought out new avenues of system improvement.

More details on the many different ARC and LOAC projects including updates and final research reports can be found below.

Access and Retention Consortium

A number of institutions, community groups and charitable or non-profit agencies have a goal of improving access and retention rates, particularly for underrepresented students. However, there is still much to be learned about how best to achieve this goal. The Access and Retention Consortium was formed to allow HEQCO to work with partners that wanted to evaluate and demonstrate effective programs and interventions.

ARC projects were multi-year research endeavors that aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of existing access and retention programs that focused on traditionally underrepresented students. Over the course of a project, researchers would evaluate an existing tool, program or approach related to access or retention; evaluate the impact of scaling an intervention that has already been shown to work or develop a partnership between PSE institutions, school boards and/or community partners.

Over two separate phases of ARC projects, HEQCO worked not only with researchers at Ontario colleges and universities but also with community groups and research initiatives in order to make postsecondary education more accessible and ensure that everyone who seeks to obtain a postsecondary credential has an equal opportunity to do so.

HEQCO’s ARC Projects

Learning Outcomes Assessment Consortium

HEQCO has long explored how to define quality in higher education and beyond that, how to measure it. Learning outcomes is a way of describing what students should know and be able to do as a result of their postsecondary education; they are a key component of measuring postsecondary quality.

There are a number of ways of defining what students should retain from a postsecondary experience and the Learning Outcomes Assessment Consortium sought to explore this issue further. This alliance between HEQCO and Ontario postsecondary institutions was created to explore ways of assessing student competencies.

Through partnerships with a number of different colleges and universities from across the province, LOAC projects delved into various ways of measuring and assessing skills like critical thinking and communication in order to more accurately demonstrate and measure the value of a postsecondary credential beyond the acquisition of subject knowledge.