2017 – Ryerson University

Upcoming/current Conference and AGM


The Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) will hold its annual conference at Ryerson University 28 – 30 May 2017 (pre-conference on 27 May 2017) within the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Website for registration, accommodation, delegate services is congress2017.ca.

The 2017 CSSHE conference was held within the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto.

Toronto is in the ‘Dish with One Spoon Territory’. The Dish with One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe (ah – n ih – sh ih – n ah – b ai), Mississaugas (m ih – s ih – s aw – g uh) and Haudenosaunee (h oh – D EE – n oh – SH oh – n ee) that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and Peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

All members are invited to attend the 2017 Annual General Meeting to be held on Sunday, 28 May 2017 at Ryerson University.

Call for Proposals

The call for individual presentations is now CLOSED.

Conference Program

The CSSHE 2017 conference handbook can be HERE. Version: 16 May 2017

Additional conference session – Creso Sá

Symposium: The Ecology of Entrepreneurship Learning in Higher Education
Day/time: Tuesday, 14:30 – 15:45
Place: Eric Pallin Hall (EPH) 142, Ryerson University

CSSHE and CSSE graduate student pre-conference

Please click HERE [version 10 May 2017] to view the planned schedule.

(1) Graphical recording from pre-conference session – facilitated by Rita Egizii

(2) Graphical recording from pre-conference session – facilitated by Giulia Forsythe

Click here to stay up to date on news about CSSHE 2016 conference from UCalgary

Partial Travel Reimbursement (for graduate students only)

You can access the form here.

Notice to all CSSHE members

FINAL PROGRAM (updated May 28th, 2016) is available as a spreadsheet here or as a pdf. CSSHEProgram%202016_May28.2

DRAFT Papers are available here.
Call for Proposals
Link for Conference submissions: http://ocs.sfu.ca/leadingchange/index.php/csshe/csshe2016

Thank you to everyone who made a submission.

While CSSHE does offer reciprocal attendance to sessions for CSSE and CASAE members, all presenters at the CSSHE conference must be registered members of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education.

Conference Registration

Available in January 2017 at Congress Registration

RSU † Member RSU †
RSU † Member RSU †
Congress $203.40 $203.40 $79.10 $79.10 $242.95 $242.95 $101.70 $101.70
CSSHE** $139.00 $253.00‡ $64.00 $64.00 $181.00 $299.00‡ $64.00 $64.00
Total $342.40 $456.40 $143.10 $143.10 $423.95 $541.95 $165.70 $165.70
Printed programme (optional) $5.00 $5.00 $5.00 $5.00 $5.00 $5.00 $5.00 $5.00

** – While CSSHE conference registration DOES allow access to the CSSE and CASAE conference sessions, CSSHE provides food and refreshments ONLY for those who are registered attendees with CSSHE.
† – Retired, Student, Unwaged
‡ – includes a membership in CSSHE to 31 Dec 2017

Affinity Group Meetings

In order to facilitate discussion about topics of common interest to members, we will provide time in the program for affinity group members to gather and meet. This time is intentionally allocated at the end of each day to encourage discussion that extends into social time.

Information for Presenters:

Session Chairs

For each session, and where appropriate, the last presenter will serve as the chair for the earlier presentations, and the first presenter will serve as the chair for the last presentation. They facilitate the sessions by introducing speakers, keeping time, and moderating questions. Time sheets will be provided in each room for the presenters.


Please note that the posters should be no larger than 36″ [91 cm] tall x 48″ [121 cm] wide so that we can accommodate them all. For those who are unsure about how to create a poster and would like a tutorial or are interested in templates, we recommend this resource: http://www.lindaapps.com/conference-posters/.


All paper presentations should be accompanied by a paper. The papers can be emailed to csshe2016@gmail.com up to two weeks before the conference. They will be posted online in a shared drive one week prior to the conference. NB: The papers are not submitted for publication by formatting them in this way and there is no implied agreement; it is up to the discretion of the authors of each individual paper where they would like to submit for publication. The conference is an opportunity to share work before it is published and to receive feedback for revisions and refinement before submission to publication. In the spirit of the conference supporting the future publication of paper presentations, we recommend that all papers be formatted according to the CSSHE’s journal, the Canadian Journal of Higher Education, requirements, posted here: http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/cjhe/about/submissions#authorGuidelines


Roundtables do not require a paper submission. All roundtables will have 2-3 papers that are related in topic, where the authors will take turns discussing their work with participants. Presenters may want to bring copies of their papers or a laptop to highlight or illustrate their ideas.


Ignite sessions will have 5 minutes to present and the session will end with a Q&A session. Authors should bring their presentations on a flash (usb) drive for uploading in advance of the presentation.


Symposium presenters are not required to bring papers to the session or to upload them, but are invited to submit them, if they are available. All symposium proposals should have included a moderator or session chair in the proposal; one will not be assigned.

Audio-visual equipment

Rooms booked by the society for presentations and events 29 – 31 May 2016 will be equipped with the Basic Presentation (AV) Package. It is recommended that participants who plan to use a PowerPoint presentation should bring their electronic presentation on a thumb/flash drive. The Basic Presentation (AV) Package in each room includes:

  • Computer
  • Data projector
  • Projection screen
  • Internet access
  • Sound system

Any questions can be directed to either the Program Chair, Michelle Nilson (mnilson@sfu) or Program Co-Chair, Kathleen Moore (kmoore3@brocku.ca).

Conference :: 2015 Ottawa

Upcoming/current Conference and AGM

News about CSSHE 2016 conference from UCalgary

The Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) will hold its annual conference at the University of Ottawa 31 May – 2 June 2015 (pre-conference on 30 May 2015) within the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Website for registration, accommodation, delegate services is congress2015.ca.

Partial Travel Reimbursement (for graduate students only)

You can access the form here.

Call for Presentations

The call for individual presentations is now CLOSED.

The deadline for submissions is 17 November 2014. Call for Proposals
IGNITE session guidelines:
Brief abstract of no more than 50 words (for the program) Proposal of no more than 500 words that includes the following:

  • Objectives of the session;
  • Significance of the theme or topic;
  • Description of the presenter and background related to the theme or topic.

IGNITE session proposals do not need to be anonymized for review.

Thank you to everyone who made a submission.

Notice to all CSSHE members

All members are invited to attend the 2015 Annual General Meeting to be held on Monday, 1 June 2015 at the University of Ottawa.


Saturday, 30 May 2015 at the University of Ottawa

Registration at http://csshe2015preconference.eventbrite.ca/

For further information please click here pdf.

Partial Travel Reimbursement

To view and print the 2014 form, please click here.

Conference Programme

Programme – Version dated 29 May 2015

Responsibilities of Chairs and Participants pdf


Or download on Guidebook

Conference code: csshescees2015

Paper repository



Please note that the posters should be no larger than 36″ [91 cm] tall x 48″ [121 cm] wide so that we can accommodate them all. For those who are unsure about how to create a poster and would like a tutorial or are interested in templates, we recommend this resource: http://www.lindaapps.com/conference-posters/.

Audio-visual equipment

Rooms booked by the society for presentations and events 31 May – 2 June 2015 will be equipped with the Basic Presentation (AV) Package. It is recommended that participants who plan to use a PowerPoint presentation should bring their electronic presentation on a thumb/flash drive. The Basic Presentation (AV) Package in each room includes:

  • Computer
  • Data projector
  • Projection screen
  • Internet access
  • Sound system

Travel, Accommodations and Registration

Please be sure to book travel and accommodations as early as possible. The payment of Congress and association registration fees is compulsory for all attendees, including speakers, presenters, panelists and those chairing or attending a session.

Conference Registration

Available in January 2015 at Congress Registration

RSU † Member RSU †
RSU † Member RSU †
Congress $170 $170 $62 $62 $205 $205 $82 $82
CSSHE** $133 $243‡ $61 $61 $174 $284‡ $61 $61
Total $303 $413 $123 $123 $379 $489 $143 $143

** – CSSHE conference registration DOES allow access to the CSSE conference sessions.
† – Retired, Student, Unwaged
‡ – includes a membership in CSSHE to 31 Dec 2015

Organized Sessions

Proposals for CSSHE Organized Paper Sessions Congress 2014

Step 1 :: Individuals who wish to organize a session on a related topic for the 2014 conference are asked to submit a proposal for such a session by 12 November 2013. The session proposal must include the name of the organizer, email address, institutional affiliation, and a 200-300 word description of the session (including a session title).

Step 2 :: After a peer review process to select organized sessions, a list of accepted sessions will be sent out to the CSSHE membership and posted on the CSSHE website in December 2013. At that time, session organizers will begin accepting proposals for their sessions (to a maximum of 4 presentations per organized session). Please note that session organizers are responsible for receiving paper proposals, reviewing and making selections from the proposals, organizing the session, and serving as session chairs at the conference.

Potential presenters must submit a title and an extended abstract of their paper (not to exceed 750 words) directly to the appropriate session organizer. Organizers are encouraged to include student paper presentation(s) in their sessions. Potential presenters must submit a proposal to the appropriate session organizer by Monday, 13 January 2014.

Step 3 :: Session organizers will submit all information to the program chair acharles@conestogac.on.ca no later than 4 February 2014, including: Session chair(s); names of presenters; titles of individual papers; order of presentation; institutional affiliation of presenters. All documents are to be submitted as Word docs. (Please no pdfs). Please observe this sample format:
Chair/Président: John Academic, Institution, Title of Session
First presenter(s), Institution(s), name of paper
Second presenter(s), Institution(s), name of paper etc.

Below, please find ideas for 15 organized sessions, submitted by your colleagues across the country.

1. Quality online and blended learning for higher education: How does ‘Teaching Big’ measure-up?

Organizer: Martha Cleveland-Innes, Athabasca University [martic@athabascau.ca]

Many higher education institutions in many places are offering online courses and programs with cost-effective, flexible approaches to undergraduate study and a range of graduate programs with minimal or no physical residency requirements. Recently, some institutions have added Massive Open Online Courses as part of their online learning opportunities. Concerns abound about whether these new versions of online learning carry all the requirements of a sound, measured learning experience with appropriate and necessary outcomes. Cathy Davidson of the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that “far too many of the MOOC’s … use talking heads and multiple-choice quizzes in fairly standard subject areas in conventional disciplines taught by famous teachers at elite universities.” This is a likely extension of the teaching model used in lecture-based delivery in place-based institutions. Those already familiar with the major tenets of distance, open and online education would be unlikely to offer such a MOOC.

Most instructors are also unlikely to offer such a MOOC. The immediate challenge facing instructors in place-based institutions is moving from mid-size classes (50-70 students / course) to large-enrollment classes (> 90-120 / course). While certainly not as big as MOOCs it can, nevertheless, be considered ‘Teaching Big’ and in many ways big class sizes (vs. massive) can be more challenging than teaching a MOOC. The distance, for example, in large enrollment classes requires instructors to reduce what Moore (1989) describes as the ‘transactional distance’ between and among instructors and students. Efforts to engage students in the increasing number big classes has inspired initiatives such as flipped classes, mobile learning, and machine learning and assessment. As with MOOCs, research on these activities is uneven.

This special session welcomes research paper presentations relating to quality online and blended learning in higher education: small, massive or just ‘big’.

2. What does it take? The Persistence of At-Risk Students in Post- Secondary Institutions.

Organizer: Alyson King, University of Ontario Institute of Technology [alyson.king@uoit.ca]

In 2011, 900,000 full-time students were enrolled in Canada’s undergraduate programs (AUCC, 2011), but how many of those students are still working on their degrees today? Increased federal government support for university operating costs and university-based research, alongside the emphasis on creating a knowledge-based economy, suggests that the future strength of Canada’s economy will rely on the ability of young people to participate and persist in post-secondary education (PSE).

What factors facilitate individuals to persist in their PSE? Students with the highest drop-out rates are immigrants and members of minority groups, those whose parents have not completed PSE , Aboriginal students, students with disabilities, rural students, and students from single-parent or low-income backgrounds (Finnie, 2008). This differentiation starts well in advance of post-secondary studies. One survey of 103,000 high school students found that students who self-identified as Black, Middle Eastern or Latin American had the lowest graduation rates (Toronto District School Board, 2013). Similarly, a survey of Continuing Education students indicated that only 13% of Caribbean and Latin American students were offered admission to a community college, and none had received offers of admission from a university (Anisef, et al., 2013). In addition, high school dropouts tend to come from families with much lower household income than that of graduating high school students (Robertson, 2006). In short, the systemic barriers that prevent many at-risk students from enrolling in PSE are the same barriers that make persisting in PSE a greater challenge.

This session will bring together papers that examine motivations, educational goals and support systems that impact the ability of at-risk students to persist in PSE, as well as what is currently being done and what remains to be done by universities for such students. Simply providing university spaces is not enough; a better understanding of how and why at-risk students enrol and persist in post-secondary education is essential to attracting and retaining other at-risk students, and thereby addressing the inequitable access to employment.

3. Exploring Community in Community-engaged Scholarship.

Organizer: Tania Kajner, University of Alberta [tania.kajner@ualberta.ca]

The concept of community is not new, but as Creed (2006) points out, it is garnering a renewed interest on the part of governments, businesses, scholars, and others. As a term that has a “commonsense” meaning for many, community is an important site for critical examination of hegemonic conceptualizations that mediate social and educational relations. Given the centrality of community in community-engaged scholarship, it is important to understand the borders and boundaries that constitute community and how scholars and institutions position the communities with whom they engage. In this organized paper session, we will explore diverse understandings of community that are developed through practices and theories of community-engaged scholarship. We invite presentations that consider how scholars’ work with community enacts and resists economic and social structures, how community is constructed through theories and practices of engagement, and how difference functions within these constructions.

4. Community-engagement: Institutional Locations and Policy Actors.

Organizer: Tania Kajner, University of Alberta [tania.kajner@ualberta.ca]

Community-engagement is fast become a key priority for most institutions of higher education in Canada. While ambiguities abound in how community-engagement is understood and enacted, policy actors and decision makers are nonetheless situating engagement within a wider set of priorities and programs. As institutions shift in response to a host of social and economic forces, decisions are made that influence how scholars might engage with communities. Who is making decisions about community-engagement priorities and strategies? How are these decisions being communicated within and outside of institutions of higher education? What are the policy instruments that shape engagement and how are policy actors taking up these instruments in their own work with communities? In this organized paper session we invite proposals that explore community-engagement within the institutional setting and unpack the dynamics of change created by the organizational interest in community-engaged scholarship.

5. From placid to turbulent: The Canadian public university goes strategic.

Organizer: Michael D Buzzelli, University of Western Ontario [mbuzzel@uwo.ca]

The nature, roles and importance of Canadian higher education are matters of intense public debate. Voices of change and resistance can be found among ordinary citizens, the popular press, policy makers and those within higher education itself. The Canadian publicly funded university (CPU), representing the lion’s share of enrolments in the sector and nearly all universities in the country, is the focus of this debate and of this paper session.

The CPU is an autonomous conglomerate organisation that is funded by public subsidy and fee-paying adult students and whose primary aims are educative, including teaching and learning and discovery, or scholarship in the broadest sense. Though the definition persists, the CPU’s operating environment is in flux. The CPU’s history, particularly after WWII, was based on a placid social contract. Even the dynamism of system expansion was investment with certainty, purpose and pace toward a desired public good. But the terrain is shifting. New and intensifying pressures faced by the CPU include technological change, educational globalisation and tightening public finance. Public discourse and policy expertise alike are fuelled by these issues and imbued with new expectations. The overarching question of this session is: how might universities respond to these pressures? More specifically, to what extent and in what ways is the CPU becoming more competitive and strategic in confronting change in higher education?

Experts will reflect on these questions in delivering papers that we aim to collect together in an edited journal or book series, perhaps in parallel with other papers/sessions featuring at CSSHE 2014.

6. Ethical implications of internationalization strategic policy and planning in Higher Education.

Organizer: Rhonda Friesen, University of Manitoba [friesenr@cc.umanitoba.ca]

Increasingly, higher education institutions are developing strategic plans and policy to guide the internationalization process of their institutions. This trend, driven by globalization and the changing role of higher education in a global knowledge-based economy, is also highlighting the dissonance and tension between fundamental values and paradigms that underpin strategic internationalization approaches. This organized session will invite presenters to explore ethical considerations regarding internationalization strategy and policy formation, including how such policies impact constituents within the HE community and how these individuals perceive strategic internationalization.

7. Writing across/within/toward Borders: Questioning the Role of Academic and Compositional Writing in Colleges and Universities.

Organizer: Rhonda Dynes, University of Toronto [rhonda.dynes@mail.utoronto.ca]

The Canadian government stresses the role of writing as essential to a citizen’s development (www.literacy.ca) yet many colleges and universities are requiring more preparatory and foundational academic writing courses for students entering higher educational institutions. Standardized testing for students during primary and secondary school’s focus on essay writing and Basic Literacy. But what happens to a student’s academic and compositional writing once they go to College or University? What about the role of workplace writing for higher education students who are increasingly interested in getting practical as well as theoretical skills? Do great communication and writing skills give you an edge when applying for jobs? This panel will explore the variety of roles that academic writing does, can, or should play in a student’s higher educational career. It will explore the challenges of teaching essay and composition writing in an increasingly restrained educational sector. Possible topics for exploration include how much writing instruction is needed in Community Colleges, the role of writing courses in relation to online or blended learning, whether or not academic writing should solely be taught by English instructors, and the value of academic writing to a variety of language learners (adult learners, English language learners, etc.).

8. Further Education: Adults in the Academy.

Organizer: Nicola Simmons, Brock University [nsimmons@brocku.ca]

Foot’s (2009) population projections predict dwindling numbers of potential post-secondary students in the traditional age range (18-25). This shift will likely impact higher education philosophy, content, practices, and policies, and will affect administrators, educators, staff, and students.

Today’s student is more likely than ever before to have been raised in a household where one or both parents attended university. These second generation students may be more self-assured and more assertive in advocating for their own needs. They are more likely to request academic credit for prior learning and more likely to expect the administration to take them seriously and respond to their requests (Watson, 2001). They are also more likely to struggle with multiple roles and demands (Fairchild, 2003; Osborne, Marks, & Turner, 2004) and engagement in campus activities (Wyatt, 2011).

The largest demographic bands (Babyboomers and their offspring)(Foot, 2006), while they may have incurred temporary losses in the economic downturn, are aging with more money for later years and oftentimes better health. They may be more likely to take courses for personal intellectual interest rather than for accreditation. They may not care about prerequisites and program requirements. They may contribute more to the coffers of continuing education programs rather than departments offering degrees.

The session invites papers that examine responses to the needs of mature learners in higher education: those who are often differently prepared for academic work. Explorations of the challenges faced by adults bringing significant experience and skill to postsecondary education, connecting to the needs of adult learners, the obstacles faced by adults returning to school, as well as the opportunities to be found will all be welcome.

9. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Canada: Institutional Impact.

Organizer: Nicola Simmons, Brock University [nsimmons@brocku.ca]

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a growing area in which post-secondary educators from any discipline inquire about their teaching and their students’ learning. SoTL, as McKinney (2006) notes, “involves systematic study of teaching and/or learning and the public sharing and review of such work through presentations, performance, or publications” (p. 3). For many, this work informs their scholarly teaching practice; for some who make it public beyond their classrooms, it also builds pedagogical knowledge in and across the disciplines.

Wutherick and Yu (2013) have begun mapping SoTL activities in Canada through their survey of 140 respondents regarding their experiences of SoTL within their institutions: it is clear that much SoTL is happening across Canada. In many institutions this work is supported by grants, staff, and collaborative research groups – but questions remain as to what kind of impact it has in affecting institutional teaching and learning quality and its impact on individual professors (and their students). As Christensen Hughes and Mighty (2010) have noted, “Researchers have discovered much about teaching and learning in higher education, but … dissemination and uptake of this information have been limited. As such, the impact of educational research on faculty-teaching practice and the student-learning experience has been negligible” (p. 4). More recently, [author and colleague] (2013) have written about the need for assessing the impact SoTL has on institutional quality.

This organized paper session therefore invites accounts of SoTL programs in post-secondary institutions that describe practices, lessons learned, and that include evidence of impact.

10. Collaborative Approaches to Achieving Student Success in Canada’s Colleges & Universities.

Organizers: Tricia Seifert, University of Toronto [tricia.seifert@utoronto.ca]
Christine Arnold, University of Toronto [c.arnold@mail.utoronto.ca]
Kathleen Moore, University of Toronto [kathleen.moore@mail.utoronto.ca]

‘Student success’ has become a buzzword phrase in higher education. Policy makers, senior institutional leaders, faculty, staff, and students all have their own definitions of what student success means. For some, success may be primarily academic persistence, achievement, graduation, and employment. However, for others it is a much broader and more holistic concept that includes dimensions such as social, emotional, and personal development (Kuh, 2006; Seifert & Peregrina-Kretz, 2013).

Many approaches to supporting student success are developed at the staff or faculty level without consideration and involvement of other key stakeholders who may provide value, support, and resources for sustainable and inclusive programming (Kezar & Lester, 2009). To achieve these varying, but connected ideas of success requires participation and collaboration from a broad set of stakeholders. The past twenty years have seen frequent and continuous calls for college and universities to work with stakeholders in placing a greater focus on achieving success, for an increasing number of students, who come from more diverse backgrounds, levels and types of preparation than ever before (ACPA, 1994; AACU, 2007; Rae Report, 2005).

We seek individual papers that highlight a multi-stakeholder and innovative approach to supporting student success at the departmental, faculty, institutional, or system level. Papers in this session will specifically outline: (a) the area of student success that the collaborative program sought to address; (b) the roles of various stakeholders involved (i.e students, faculty, student services staff, community, secondary schools, alumni); (c) the evaluation/outcomes of the collaborative program; and (d) the feasibility of the program being expanded or implemented across other institutions and/or provinces. In an era of fiscal constraint and priority planning processes, the value of collaborations across the institution directed toward supporting student success cannot be underestimated.

11. Stories from Within: Institutional Change, Challenges and Choices in Ontario Colleges.

Organizer: Anne C. Charles, Conestoga College [acharles@conestogac.on.ca]

The concept of institutional differentiation in higher education systems has been gaining traction in recent years and is linked to the broader aims of higher education including the economic, social and political. In Ontario, a project initiated in May 2011 by the Minister of Training Colleges and Universities, led to the invitation to Ontario’s colleges and universities to submit proposals for Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs). Following a review and assessment of the submissions, the report “Quality: Shifting the Focus. A Report from the Expert Panel to Assess the Strategic Mandate Agreement Submissions” (April 2013) from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) presented the argument that the Ontario government needed to play a proactive role in system planning to achieve desired results and maintain sustainability.

While a number of dominant themes were identified from the SMA submissions, voices and discourse from the front line remain relatively in the margins. With the intent to broaden the conversation on differentiation to include internal stakeholders and to assess transitional effects, this organized session will contribute active voice by showcasing some “stories from within”. Researchers, faculty, students, support, and/or administrative staff will share their experiences of institutional change, challenges, and choices, with the objective of contributing to the streams of conversation on institutional differentiation, strategic mandate agreements, and Ontario colleges.

12. Governance in Higher Education: Examples of policies, practices, and processes.

Organizer: Anne C. Charles, Conestoga College [acharles@conestogac.on.ca]

A diversity of form and practice exists with relation to governance in Canada’s higher education institutions. Relationships with governments, institutional specific mandates, missions, historical frameworks, and stakeholder groups add complexity. Governance arrangements are often specific to institutional types (universities, university colleges, polytechnics, institutes, colleges and more), but can vary considerably from institution to institution. What are the similarities and differences? What examples can be shared? What lessons can be learned? What are the challenges and opportunities for good governance?

Building upon the discourse presented and arising from the session in the CSSHE 2013 conference, this session will present knowledge from research studies, comparative examples, and practice. Topics may include: theories and models, structures of governance, roles and fiduciary responsibilities (governors, board chairs, board secretaries, committees of the board), the interface between governance and operations, strategic recruitment of talent, board development and self-evaluation, accountability and performance measurement, government relations, system-level governance, community models, collegial self-governance, corporations, desire for autonomy, internationalization, transforming contexts, adaptability, values, and community engagement.

The ‘conversations’ from this session will continue to inform and shape knowledge and practice, and contribute to the ongoing dialogue within the research community by way of interfacing with the CSSHE’s Affinity Group on Governance in Higher Education which will be meeting at the conference.

13. The Broadening Responsibility for Undergraduate Teaching at Canadian Universities.

Organizer: Richard Wiggers, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario [rwiggers@heqco.ca]

The growth in the number of full-time faculty hired by Canadian universities over the past decade has nowhere near kept pace with the even more impressive growth in undergraduate and graduate enrolments across nearly all demographic groups and regions of the country. The result has been an increased reliance on non-tenured faculty, graduate teaching assistants (TAs), undergraduate peer mentors, learning technologies, and student service providers to assist with the instruction and assessment of more and larger undergraduate classes.

This paper session will provide an overview of those shifting trends, as well as reviewing some of the extensive work that has recently been undertaken by HEQCO and by other researchers across Canada. Some of the trends that are likely to be explored within this panel include the following:

  • The decline in the teaching responsibilities for full-time university faculty at the same time as the number of new hirings failed to keep pace with growing demands to teach, supervise graduate students and undertake research;
  • The growing reliance by universities on part-time/sessional faculty to teach undergraduate courses;
  • The substantial growth in graduate enrolments at both the Masters and PhD level, as well as increased funding support for the latter from the federal government (primarily through the TriCouncil) and from provincial governments and universities, leading to a growing reliance on graduate students as TAs;
  • Increased efforts to employ undergraduate peer mentors to assist faculty with their teaching and grading responsibilities in undergraduate courses;
  • The growing reliance on learning technologies and on student services to assist undergraduate students with the development of core skills such as time management, writing, research, etc.

Proposals on other related topics are also encouraged.

14. Professional Development at Colleges and Universities.

Organizer: Richard Wiggers, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario [rwiggers@heqco.ca]

There is growing interest in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) at both colleges and universities. Two recent reports to the Ontario government – Don Drummond’s Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (February 2012) and the 2012 Annual Report from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, (November 2012) – focused on a number of topics related to the quality of teaching and learning.

At the same time a variety of college and university programs and institutions are making more efforts to not only provide training opportunities to faculty and graduate students (including teaching certificate programs in some cases), but also to encourage the assessment and evaluation of innovative approaches to teaching. In addition to funding dozens of SoTL related research projects, HEQCO is about to publish a revised second edition of their guide – endorsed by CACUSS and STLHE – entitled Researching Teaching and Student Outcomes in Postsecondary Education (2014).

This paper session will provide an overview of the growing body of research and innovations related to SoTL and teaching and learning excellence at both colleges and universities. Some of the trends that are likely to be explored within this panel, drawing as well from several current research projects underway at HEQCO, include the following:

  • The emergence and expanding role and reach of teaching and learning centres;
  • Efforts to recognize excellence in teaching through awards and other means;
  • Teaching certificates and other efforts to credentialize teaching abilities in higher education;
  • Increased efforts to train graduate teaching assistants for their role in support of faculty;
  • The shifting use and role of course evaluations in assessing excellence in teaching and learning;
  • The growing emphasis on learning outcomes in evaluations of student success.

Submissions on other related topics are also encouraged.

15. Are Colleges and Universities the Best Places for Students to Learn Experientially?

Organizer: Richard Wiggers, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario [rwiggers@heqco.ca]

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) just completed – in partnership with 14 Ontario colleges and universities – an extensive five-year study of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL). These studies included surveys of faculty (2011), employers (2012), and students both as they were about to graduate (2012) and 18 months after graduation (2013). The contents of those studies also encompass nearly all types of WIL ranging from apprenticeships at one end of the spectrum to service learning at the other.

As governments and the public clamour for more “experiential” learning opportunities for postsecondary students, and students and the media complain increasingly about unpaid and potentially illegal placements, colleges and universities need to ask themselves several important questions, each of which we hope to address in the panel:

  • What are WIL/experiential learning opportunities really intended to provide to a participating student?
  • How much WIL do our programs already offer to students, and are those existing WIL opportunities fulfilling their promise and intent?
  • How much additional WIL can really be provided, especially given the challenges already being experienced in finding sufficient placements?
  • Are there alternatives to WIL that could also educate students in terms of the workplace and how it relates to their postsecondary studies?

It is hoped that this paper session will provide an overview of the growing body of research related to WIL at both colleges and universities, and provide some suggestions for future directions at both colleges and universities.

The deadline to make a submission to an organized session (above) is Monday, 13 January 2014.

Affinity Group Meetings

To come.

Conference Proceedings

To come.

HESA’s One Thought to Start Your Day [11 June 2015]: Universities: It’s Not All About You

Universities: It’s Not All About You
June 11, 2015, Alex Usher
I just finished reading quite a good little book, Universities and Regional Development, edited by (among others) OISE’s Glen Jones. Analytically, it’s useful for a couple of reasons: first, it gets beyond universities as single-entity black boxes when it comes to engaging with external stakeholders; also, it does a good job of emphasizing history and path-dependence as under-analyzed variables in explaining change (or lack thereof) in higher education.

One thing that struck me, however, was the tone of some of these pieces. It’s possible that I’m imagining some of this, but I identified an undercurrent running throughout a few of the articles: having explained how particular university initiatives failed as a result of “historical particularities”, or by ignoring “institutions’ entrepreneurial architecture”, the argument just seemed to end. The implication here being that, to ensure smoother outcomes in the future, everybody needs to adjust to the particularities of higher education institutions.

The question most policy-makers would ask here is: “why”? Why should everyone else adapt to universities, rather than universities adapt to the needs of government and other stakeholders? It’s a question that too many people inside the higher education bubble can’t even grasp, let alone answer. The idea that other people’s agendas sometimes matter doesn’t get much of a hearing in higher ed.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, it has to do with a post the other day on the Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)’s blog. Signed by “Graeme” (presumably Graeme Stewart, OCUFA’s comms manager), it asks why all the speakers at big higher ed conference panels (presumably excluding those at OCUFA’s own conferences) are all cut from the same cloth – namely, why are they “single-mindedly practical”, but inside-the-box, thinkers? Where are the radicals opposed to “technocratic, metrics-obsessed discourse”, he asks? Why aren’t they being heard from?

Fair question, but I think the answer is pretty simple. The critical higher education scholars have a lot of useful things to say (particularly around gender), but frankly they add almost nothing to the debate when it comes to issues of finance and accountability, which are what most conference panels are designed to discuss. Among the “alternative voices” in higher education, there is an astounding reluctance to acknowledge the fact that Canada spends more than pretty much any other country on higher education, a near-complete absence of serious discussion about the underlying reasons for cost-inflation in the sector (indeed, there instead seems to be a preference for wholly phantasmagoric discussions about fund accounting), and a general attitude that the only thing that matters when it comes to money is: MOAR! MOAR!! MOAR!!!

As for accountability, “sod off and leave us alone” covers way more of the discussion spectrum than it should. Measure outputs? Report on them? Heaven forfend such metrics-obsessed behaviour.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. American critical scholars such as Chris Newfield or Robert Samuels actually do talk about finances, and the latter at least is prepared to see huge cost reductions in universities through a shift in focus from research to teaching. You can agree or disagree with that solution, but at least it’s an acknowledgement that cost (as opposed to price) is a problem – something I have yet to see in Canada.

Too often, what we hear from the “critical scholars” crowd is: “how can we make life better/prevent life from getting worse for people working in higher education?” While there are lots of important topics in this area – the issue of sessionals comes to mind – it’s still a remarkably self-centred discussion. It’s not about what higher education can, or should, do for society and the economy, it’s what everybody else should do to make academia a happy place.

It’s fine for OCUFA to want to broaden the discussion on higher education. But it’s terminally self-serving to suggest that this goal is achieved simply by including more people who will emphasize universities’ particularist nature. Listening more attentively to what external stakeholders think of universities – good or ill – would surely be a more rewarding path.

The ACU campaign: The World Beyond 2015 – Is Higher Education Ready

The Millennium Development Goals expire at the end of 2015. CSSHE has been invited by Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) to provide a submission towards defining a new set of international targets and a shared vision for higher education.

We have been asked to respond to the following six key questions:


  1. Why does the Post-2015 agenda matter for higher education?
  2. How are universities already addressing local, national, and international issues?
  3. How can universities prepare to respond to the Post-2015 agenda?
  4. What partnerships should universities establish to achieve their objectives?
  5. How can universities champion their contributions to wider society?
  6. How relevant and realistic are the Post-2015 goals likely to be?


Your engagement in the conversation matters to us. Please tell us what you think via the CSSHE BLOG. The CSSHE BLOG will be open until February 28, 2015. CSSHE welcomes your comments, they will be used to inform the CSSHE submission to ACU.

You can find out more and browse the submissions ACU has received so far at www.acu.ac.uk/beyond-2015.

Anne Charles
President, The Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education

Canadian researchers in Higher Education, the Student Experience, Student Success and Student Affairs

The Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) is currently preparing their research agenda.
There is an opportunity to help add an international (or more importantly Canadian) voice to these discussion.

If you or your colleagues have research interests situated broadly in these areas please connect with Chad Nuttall (contact info below).
Chad will be happy to discuss with anyone and pass that the information on to the chair of the ACUHO-I research committee.

Please share broadly.

Chad Nuttall
Director-at-Large, CSSHE

Director, Student Housing & Residence Life
University of Toronto Mississauga

Higher Education in Other Countries – Broadening Our Horizons

University of LlubljanaI attended the 10th International Workshop on Higher Education Reform (HER) hosted by the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, Oct. 2-4. This is a small conference that moves around each year – last year it was in Pittsburgh, previous locations include Berlin, Vancouver, Shanghai, and Mexico City. One of the chief instigators of this series of conferences is long time CSSHE member and former board member Hans Schuetze. Here is a photo of the main conference venue, the rectorate of the University of Llubljana.
It looks a bit fancier than the often utilitarian buildings on Canadian campuses. And the inside is also a bit fancier – here is Hans sitting under a very fance chandelier as he listens to one of the keynote presentations.
Hans at conference

The participants in these Higher Education Reform (HER) conferences come from universities and colleges all over the world. Talking to them during the sessions and the breaks is an education in itself, and tends to broaden one’s conception of what higher education systems are like in places that are very different from Canada and the nearby United States. Even places that don’t seem so different, such as Austria and Germany, operate their HE systems in ways that are quite different from ours. During one of the many interesting presentations at the conference CSSHE board member Lesley Andres, along with Hans Pechar, described how the academic career track – from graduate student to full professor – differs considerably in Austria and Germany, as compared to the pattern in North America that we are more familiar with. The pattern in North America seems to lead to more satisfying academic careers, maybe because our systems are to a lesser extent the result of historical baggage.

One of the keynote speakers at the conference was from South Africa, where the historical baggage from a colonial legacy is one of the many problems that academics have to cope with. Conversations with conference attendees from other parts of Africa reinforced the conclusion that here in North America academics have to deal only with “first world problems,” which seem relatively minor compared to those faced by academics (and other educators) elsewhere.
I’m sure that many members of the CSSHE have more experience with higher education in other countries than I do. One such internationalist is Rhonda Friesen from the University of Manitoba, a CSSHE board member who has led the creation of a new CSSHE affinity group focused on International Higher Education. Just last week the CSSHE board approved this new affinity group. It will, no doubt, be meeting at the CSSHE conference next May at Brock University. If you are already involved in international higher education, or just want to broaden your horizons, be sure to attend.

by Walter Archer, Ph.D.

Me and Obama

I took a great deal of interest in President Barak Obama’s speech this last week in upstate New York. It was a major announcement of his reforms for higher education, and he cited a few initiatives that he thought were worth commendation. Among them was “Open SUNY”: a system wide effort to link the initiatives of the 64 or so institutions to provide degree completion and online learning and PLAR and other benefits resulting from more synergy among the campuses.

To the average Canadian involved in higher education this would look like a mash up of BC Campus (and similar provincial networks like Contact North), TRU Open Learning (spawn of the old Open Learning Agency and its BC Educational Credit Bank), the BC PLA Network, the Canadian Virtual University, and so on. Which likely explains my tenuous claim that Open SUNY is my legacy of 4 wonderful years at SUNY: I think I was largely responsible, working with others, in planting the seeds and then fleshing out what an agency like Open SUNY could do. Historians of higher education in the US will one day support this claim and will either praise or blame me, or get it all completely wrong.

Obama’s overall concerns are with the rising tuition for higher education, especially in the public sector (while state funding has collapsed of course, thus passing the burden to the student) plus low completion rates (58% of full time students entering in 2004 graduated with a 4 year degree after 6 years) and high default rates for student loans.

Not surprisingly, most of the higher education business has not responded very nicely. And the critics are likely not impressed with Obama’s list of exemplars of innovation, which focus on competency based learning, MOOCs (a false step there I think) and so on. My favorites are Southern New Hampshire’s University’s “College for America” and Northern Arizona University’s Personalized Learning.

He also promotes a rating system for colleges that do a good job (according to whatever indicators they come up with) and that are rewarded accordingly. I think the intention is solid, but this is ripe for institutions to game the system, and for sharp divisions to occur between institutions which score well in said game, and others which (for many complex reasons) do not show up so well and which likely need more resources, not less.

I guarantee that these divisions will align with and reinforce the existing social and economic class system. My previous institution, Empire State College, is an amazing place: radical, alternative and innovative, serving those who have all sorts of barriers. But if you start counting its success as you would that of my current institution, KPU, it would look embarrassing. Education (or for that matter, life) is too complicated for a simple scorecard that fails to account for the wide range of communities and learners and their needs.

Others have done a much better job than I can of commenting on all this, and there is the usual mobbing of higher education by those who routinely cite Clayton Christensen (have they not read anything else?) and predict the end of the world as we know it. But I can make a few observations.

  • Open SUNY is still largely imaginary, but the potential is huge. One forgets that New York State alone has close to 20 million people, and, despite the extensive public and private systems, many face the usual barriers that those of us in open, distance and adult learning face: location, money, previous bad experiences or no family tradition in further education, not wanting (or needing) to start from scratch, not wanting (or needing) to follow precisely pre-determined curricula that may or may not be relevant to their needs and interests.
  • Although I have problems with some of the proposals Obama has come up with, I am once again amazed at the level of engagement and boldness of US politicians as they try to deal with enormous issues. Much as I love Canada and its largely solid higher education system, I simply cannot imagine any Canadian politician, federal or provincial, speaking as eloquently or as forcefully about higher education as does Obama, and I saw the same from state and federal politicians of all stripes. It all supports my overall impression that when the US does something well, it excels, and when it messes up, it does so with terrible impacts. In Canada meanwhile we muddle along with our platitudes and occasional soft criticism, and maybe that is best. However, we have hardly any major radical and alternative educational institutions any more, and although we seem to lead the way sometimes, our innovations get diluted by the rankings game, by elitism, and by the inherent conservatism of Canadian higher education.
  • Having said that, I am encouraged by the work going on in BC right now, and I want KPU to think about suspending the usual mind-numbing rules and paradigms that we have wallowed into and to try some really bold initiatives to better meet the needs of those learners we currently do not reach.

by Alan Davis, PhD