The Skills Bridge: Essential Skills for BC College Students research project
By Julia Siedlanowska, Staff Writer
The Skills Bridge: Essential Skills for BC College Students is a research project funded by participating institutions through BC Colleges, a consortium of British Columbia’s 11 public post-secondary institutions. The role of the consortium is to lobby the provincial government on matters of policy and funding and to facilitate collaboration between the colleges. The project builds upon the results of the Association for Canadian Community Colleges National Framework for Essential Skills Research Project of which Douglas College students from health sciences and commerce & business administration programs participated in 2012.
“The goal of the National Framework project was to demonstrate that through a systematic approach to essential skills development, student performance and subsequently their success at school could be improved,” said Cat Adler, skills coach with the Douglas College training group. “Although the research project was a success, it was decided that it would be worthwhile to further research this approach.”
The project aims at improving the learning and work strategies of BC post-secondary students by offering weekly study strategy sessions that incorporate essential skills methodology in approaches to learning. The Government of Canada has identified and validated nine essential skills: reading text, document use, writing, numeracy, oral communication, thinking skills, working with others, computer use, and continuous learning.
Students will participate in weekly two-hour study sessions at which they will be given customized learning strategies. They will be given the opportunity to apply these learning strategies to their homework and class assignments. Project administrators stress that students’ workloads will not be affected by the project, as participants will be able to complete their homework during the study sessions.
“Currently, this project targets students from the hospitality, health care support worker, and dental assisting programs. Ideally, we would like to see as many students as possible from these programs come to participate. We are offering free study sessions which will help students learn how to be better students,” says Adler. “At the same time, students that participate in this research project have an opportunity to change the face of college education. Ultimately, we would like to give students the tools they need to succeed at school and at work and through research projects such as this, we can identify the best way to provide these tools.”
Adler also said, “If the project is successful, we would like to expand it and refine it, working with more programs from different faculties and disciplines. At Douglas, our ultimate aim is to provide access to essential skills coaching to all students who want it, regardless of the program they are in.”