Institutional Strategies and Factors that Contribute to the Engagement of Recent Immigrant Adult Students in Ontario Post-Secondary Education
Grabke, Sheldon Vaughn Richard
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The purpose of this study is to provide a unique investigation that yields vital data on barriers experienced by recent immigrant adult students (RIAS), the policies, practices and supports in PSE and their impact on RIAS engagement, and factors that contribute to the engagement of RIAS in Ontario PSE. This examination contributes to and furthers the student engagement in PSE literature by providing an original view into RIAS engagement in PSE. This dissertation involves qualitative and quantitative research methods including 18 key informant interviews, six focus groups, one interview and 434 survey responses as well as historical data, policies, procedures and artifacts at colleges and universities in Ontario. These different methodological attributes bring triangulation of sources and methods into the study. All of the data is analyzed using the student engagement conceptual framework. This study finds that PSE in Ontario seems to know little of the number, type, experiences and engagement of RIAS on campus. This research argues how and why the traditional model of engagement does not apply well to RIAS. Key findings include that RIAS are performing well academically in PSE despite the numerous barriers that they face and their lack of engagement. RIAS strong motivation to complete PSE and their inherent optimism is such that many persist to completion. One fundamental factor contributing to the lack of engagement for RIAS is their minimal social involvement in PSE. Using the findings, this dissertation provides numerous recommendations for changes to institutional policies and procedures to further RIAS engagement. Both academic and social engagement of RIAS in PSE significantly predict the hallmarks of a liberal education. This is a noteworthy reason for PSE to make an investment in the engagement of RIAS in Ontario PSE. This study therefore has implications for theory and practice in PSE in Ontario. Through developing creative ways to remove barriers and augment supports for RIAS in PSE, RIAS may begin to be more engaged in PSE. This noble endeavour can help RIAS more fully develop into engaged citizens and truly assist them in their settlement experience in Ontario.