Wheelahan, L. (2017). Differentiating pathways: Why they are not all the same. Opening keynote presentation to the 2017 Pan-Canadian Consortium on Admission & Transfer (PCCAT) conference: 150 Ways to Transfer: A Celebration of Pathways Initiatives & Research, 8-9 June, Toronto.

The presentation draws on research from Australia and Canada to analyse different types of pathways between colleges and universities, and the ways in which they are linked to labour markets. Pathways policy is predicated on building linear connections between credentials within the same field of education. This research shows that instead, many students change their field of education when they undertake a second credential. Further, the linearity of a pathways varies by field of education. This presentation shows the ways in which labour markets help to condition the types of pathways that students follow, and considers policy implications based on this revised understanding.

Moodie, G., & Wheelahan, L. (2017). General principles and local contexts in student pathways. Presentation to the 2017 Conference of the Pan-Canadian Consortium on Admissions & Transfer [PCCAT], 8-9 June 2017, Toronto.

The presentation considers broad factors that affect student transfer: system design, system supports, institutional factors, and pathways. Four levels of analysis for pathways policy are proposed: goals, principles, guidelines, and frameworks. The analysis is applied at five organisational levels: jurisdiction, system, institution, faculty/program, and individual.

Liu, Q., Wheelahan, L., Moodie, G., Skolnik, M., Adam, E., & Simpson, D. (2017, March 27). College Baccalaureate Students and their Perspectives. Presentation at the College Degree Operating Group meeting. George Brown College, Toronto.

This presentation focused on the findings from the Ontario College Baccalaureates project that addressed three questions: Why college baccalaureates from students’ perspectives? What’s the impact of college baccalaureates on degree accessibility? And how do college baccalaureate students perceive the benefits and challenges in pursuing college baccalaureates? The analysis of quantitative data (Student Satisfaction Survey and enrolment data in the year 2015-16) and interviews with 30 degree students at five Ontario colleges shows that college baccalaureates have widened access to baccalaureate education for students who are less mobile, those who did not perform well enough in high school to get admitted to universities, and those who have financial concerns in their decisions for postsecondary education. The study also found that students consider the applied nature, the professors and their accessibility as the major benefits of college baccalaureate programs, and the stigma attached to program recognition constitutes the biggest challenge for these programs. The presentation encouraged Ontario colleges to celebrate the strengths of college degree programs, continue to support baccalaureate students to deal with existing challenges and make efforts to raise the profile of the degree programs.

Wheelahan, L., Moodie, G., Skolnik, M., Liu, Q. Simpson, D., and Adam, E. (2017). The college baccalaureate project. Presentation at the Second Annual Meeting of the Sociology of Education Cluster, Canadian Sociological Association. Jan. 27; McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Canada. 

In this double session, PEW researchers discussed two aspects of a research project conducted by Ontario CAAT Baccalaureates research team. The research project, funded by Ontario Human Capital Research and Innovation Fund (OHCRIF), explored the impact of college baccalaureate degrees on colleges and students in Ontario. In “Apples to Apples? Are College and University Baccalaureates the Same?” Diane Simpson, a doctoral student at OISE, presented a curriculum analysis comparing college and university baccalaureates from the same fields of study. Her findings provided insight into the orientations of the degree programs offered by different types of institutions. In the second part of the session, entitled ‘”Access and the Identity of College Baccalaureate Students in Ontario,” Edmund Adam, a doctoral student at OISE, focused on the impact of college baccalaureates on access and identity issues for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. His analysis was based on interviews with baccalaureate students at five Ontario colleges. Findings provided empirical evidence for the role of college baccalaureates in widening accessibility to undergraduate education in the province. [View or download.]

Moodie, G. (2016). Australian colleges’ roles in innovation and regional development. Presented at the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Strategic Policy and Programs Division and the Corporate Coordination Branch Conversation on Innovation: Part III. MaRS Discovery District, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This presentation discusses the relationship between Australian colleges and the Australian federal government. While Australia’s colleges are valued by regional communities, the colleges have a minimal role, if any, in the federal government’s policies and programs for regional development. Given a well established distinction between invention and innovation, Australian data shows that innovation is not concentrated in high technology industries, and that innovation is not mainly the commercialisation of research. The presentation concludes with the observation that presently, the role of Australian colleges is limited to upgrading and mid-skill vocational training. Moodie concludes that colleges have potentially valuable roles to play in accelerating the diffusion of new techniques among existing industry hubs, and in building alliances among firms with common interests. [View or download.]

Arnold, C., Beaulieu, J., Taylor-Cline, J. C., & Wheelahan, L. (2016). Qualifications in Canada: Links between educational and occupational pathways provincially and nationally. Paper presented at the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education’s Annual Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

This presentation investigated the nature of pathways within post-secondary education and between post-secondary education and the labour market. In the initial phase of a SSHRC funded investigation of pathways in Canada, the PEW team used detailed document and website analysis of provincial policies, organizations’ missions and mandates, and chronological developments in educational and occupational pathways to craft provincial case studies detailing the history and structure of relations between pathways, qualifications and labour market outcomes in each province.  

The second phase used the 2013 National Graduate Survey (NGS) to investigate links between qualifications and occupations.Findings demonstrate that at the national level, the links between qualifications are weak but vary by broad field of education. The links between qualification, occupation, and licencing are much tighter in regulated occupations, and very weak in unregulated occupations. [View or download.]

Lennon, M. C., Brijmohan, A., Lavigne, E., Moodie, G., & Wheelahan, L. (2016a, April). Supporting credit transfer at every level: Guiding principles and a practical framework for building better credit transfer and pathway articulation agreements. Paper presented at the annual Student Pathways in Higher Education conference. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This session presented guiding principles and a practical framework for building better credit transfer and pathway articulation agreements at the system level, within an institution, and within a program. Based on a study that included desk research, data analysis, and consultation with experts, this presentation presented a “decision-making tool” to discern the nature and type of educational pathways needed, and the types of policies and practices needed to support student access, transfer, transition, and success.

Grounded in the theory that higher education qualifications support labour market entry or mobility, transition into higher education, and social mobility, it follows that pathways and transfer are a means to support individual and societal goals. This research developed principles and criteria that departments, institutions and government can use to make decisions about the types of pathways that should be developed, the fields of education that should be linked through pathways, and the institutions that should be involved. [View or download.]

Brijmohan, A., Lavigne, E., Lennon, M. C., Wheelahan, L., & Yang, J. (2016, April). An examination of how transfer pathways are used in Ontario post-secondary education. Paper presented at the annual Student Pathways in Higher Education conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This session presented findings from a project investigating student use of current transfer pathways across Ontario postsecondary institutions. The project analyzed transfer pathway datasets made available through ONCAT, student transfer rates and patterns from the 2013 National Graduate Survey, and the 2013/2014 College Graduate Satisfaction Survey. Findings suggest most pathway agreements are between institutions that are not within commuting distance. A closer examination of the transfer pathways between the College and University sectors reveals that only 17% of universities facilitate transfer from colleges within commuting range.  Second, the findings show that most pathways are underused by transfer students, and for the students who do transfer, most are from institutions within commutable range. Third, the extent to which students stay within the same field of education when they undertake a second postsecondary education qualification varies, but overall, most students change their field of education.

The data highlights the need for more evidence-based transfer pathway policy development that takes into account student use, transfer trajectories, and geographic proximity. [View or download.]

Lennon, M. C., Brijmohan, A., & Lavigne, E. (2016, April). Ontario’s transfer system: Examining PSE students’ trajectories. Paper presented at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Pathway Symposium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This presentation summarized findings from a research project funded by the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT) on college to university transfer students. Bringing together data from four different datasets, it finds that the Ontario system provides students with a great number of pathways, but that further efforts should focus on increasing usage. [View or download.]


Lavigne, E., Brijmohan, A., Yang, J., Wheelahan, L., Moodie, G., & Childs, R. (2015). Pathways to education and work in Ontario and Canada. Presented at the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and University Policy Research Symposium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This project examined pathways within and between fields of education, and between fields of education and occupations, in Ontario and Canada. Using the 2013 National Graduates Survey, the project found that links between qualifications within the same field of education were weak, as were links between fields of education and occupations. Most students changed their field of education when they undertook a second post-secondary education qualification, but this varied by field of education and by whether pathways were within or between colleges and universities. Similarly, the links between fields of education and occupations were quite weak, but this also varied between fields of education and was related to whether the occupation was regulated or not. This presentation reported the project’s findings as well as discussed the similarities and differences between Ontario and all of Canada, and implications for policy and practice.[View or download.]

Lavigne, E., Wheelahan, L., Moodie, G., Childs, R., Brijmohan, A., & Yang, J. (2015). Canadian college and university pathways as seen through the eye of the 2013 National Graduate Survey: Results and methods. Presented at the Canadian Institutional Research and Planning Association Annual Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

This presentation explored new data from the 2013 National Graduates Survey on graduates’ progression to further post-secondary education. The researchers also discussed the methods used to access the data. Of interest for policy-makers and institutional researchers, the research group found that the NGS provided valuable information relevant to student pathways that could in turn inform policy. The research group also found that most graduates’ further post-secondary education did not reflect a linear and upward progression within the same field of education and varied by field and level of education. [View or download.]