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The Impact of Dual Credit on College Access and Participation: An Ontario Case Study

Abstract: The purpose of the study is to better understand the extent to which dual credit contributes to increased access and participation in college. As an initiative to facilitate the transition from high school to college for many students, dual credit has grown in scale and popularity in Ontario in recent years. By giving participating students credit towards both secondary school and college, dual credit is seen as a particularly effective mechanism in assisting disengaged students and groups under-represented in postsecondary education achieve success in high school and college. Still at an early stage of implementation in Ontario, little formal research has been conducted to explore the elements contributing to the program’s success and the benefits and outcomes for participants. Through the use of mixed methods of research, the study explores from a case study perspective the experience of dual credit at a single Ontario college in collaboration with its local partner school boards. Research methods include examination of student grades, policy and program documentation; student and parent surveys; and interviews with staff involved in planning and delivery. The analysis is informed by conceptual frameworks of student change allowing for consideration of a broad range of variables. Results of the study revealed that dual credit was deemed to be a success by students, parents and staff involved with the programs. Dual credit was viewed as particularly effective in terms of academic benefits and creating a greater awareness of college, contributing to student confidence and leading to increased likelihood of college participation. Dual credit participants were found to be primarily middle achievers academically, tended to perform better in dual credit courses than in high school, and obtained slightly higher grades than college peers in the same courses. Given the program delivery models studied, it was concluded that middle achievers were likely to benefit most. The study also concluded that student characteristics including pre-existing confidence and motivation should be considered an important element of success along with program elements and institutional factors. As an innovative program demonstrating positive results, more research should be done to assist in developing dual credit further.

Author: Christopher Whitaker

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 646.86 KB
Last Updated: August 4, 2015