17:05 PM

Mohawk College launches new fellowship into college student success

The College Student Success Innovation Centre is building on its research track record with a new funding opportunity for emerging and established scholars

Mohawk College StudentsinLibrary

The College Student Success Innovation Centre (CSSIC) at Mohawk College, Canada’s first research centre on a college campus dedicated to college student success, has now launched a first-of-its-kind research fellowship.

This new funding opportunity is open to emerging and established scholars at Canadian postsecondary institutions whose research supports student success, including innovative student services, and teaching approaches, curriculum, methods, and practices. It is aimed at generating evidence-based interventions to increase student success across the college system and beyond.

22_05_04_Katie_Burrows-2“CSSIC itself is unique within colleges. This type of research into student success interventions is more commonly conducted at the university level with university students,” says Katie Burrows, Vice President, Students, International and Alumni.

“Mohawk College has carved a niche within this research at the college level. That’s a source of excitement and pride for us.”

The fellowship marks the first time Mohawk College is directly funding research into student success and it’s believed to be the first time a college has stepped into the role of grantor.

The fellowship may be new, but Mohawk College’s track record in student-focused research is well-established. It has implemented and supported more than $5 million in funded research projects with more than 20 post-secondary institutions (in collaboration with several university researchers) and industry collaborators.

By embedding research-based interventions into its own operations, Mohawk College acts as an incubator of innovation.

That success, combined with the need for college-focused research, and more than a decade’s worth of strategic commitments to promoting student success at Mohawk College, led to the creation of CSSIC in 2018 with financial support from the Ontario government. 

“This is a College-wide initiative that is aligned with the strategic priorities of Mohawk College,” says Pamela Ingleton, Director at CSSIC. “Offering a fellowship provides an avenue to continue to expand our research initiatives in this critical area.”

Successful fellows will, in partnership with the CSSIC team, develop or modify, test, and evaluate proposed student success interventions, which will be implemented with and by Mohawk College students.

“Students offer crucial perspectives about how we can best engage and support students. As well, gaining research experience is valuable for our students,” says Ingleton.

The fellowship’s definition of student success includes traditional concepts of academic performance, retention and graduation rates, and post-graduation employment, along with more emergent ideas of student development, wellbeing, and belonging, as well as centring student voices through qualitative, participatory research.  

“Each student is unique in terms of their postsecondary goals and trajectory, but no matter those circumstances, all of our students made a significant life decision and a large financial investment to be here,” says Ingleton.

“As a publicly supported institution, we have a responsibility to find ways to make a student’s experience in our college as supported, productive and fruitful as possible, however that is defined by the students themselves. We are practitioners who want to get better at our craft, which is educating students.”

The evidence generated by high-quality, rigorous research led by CSSIC has developed strong understanding of the factors that contribute to academic performance and how institutions can better set students up for success as well as support those who are struggling.

An example is research around psychologically attuned communication that changed the approach and tone of letters sent to students placed on academic probation. The letter, once a dry, sternly worded official notification to students falling behind in their studies that they need to do better, now emphasizes messages that the student is not alone, that encountering challenges or setbacks is not uncommon, and that resources at the college can help get the student back on track.

“It’s made an incredible difference to retention and success rates,” says Burrows.

(Other current and past research projects conducted through the CSSIC can be viewed here.)

“We believe this fellowship benefits all stakeholders,” says Ingleton. “It benefits Mohawk College by expanding our research capabilities and leadership in the field. It benefits our students, both those who participate in the research and those who have improved success outcomes and college experiences as a result of the evidence that is gathered. It benefits the entire college system, which hasn’t traditionally been the subject of research, and it benefits the fellows who can now take their academic work in new directions, implementing important research often deemed ineligible for funding through established grant opportunities.”

The CCSIC Research Fellowship will provide $25,000 to $100,000 per project, with a maximum total funding envelope of $100,000. Fellowships will last one to three years.

An overview of the opportunity, including high-level application details, objectives, eligibility guidelines, project deliverables, and details about how to apply are available on the CSSIC website

The application deadline for the CSSIC Research Fellowship is Oct. 20, 2023 at 8 p.m. EDT.