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Completed Teaching and Learning Projects

Case Study: Evaluation of Literacy Skills for students enrolled in Adult Developmental Education Programs

To evaluate the literacy skills of those enrolled in Adult Developmental Education (ADE) programs in PEI, using the Canadian Literacy Evaluation and socio-demographic questionnaires that could be compared with data from the International Adult Literacy Survey. Given the importance of literacy in the workforce and the influence this has on productivity and competiveness in most sectors, understanding the literacy skills of those participating in ADE at program entry and exit is significant. Ultimately, having a clearer understanding of these issues can inform program planning and influence government policy.


The impact of literacy skills on training and employment and the subsequent effect this has on earnings and competitiveness within a community is well documented. In the past, the specific influence of ADE on literacy has primarily been studied using cross sectional samples. This study measured impact over time, which is a stronger design than using cross sectional samples


Working in partnership with Human Resources Development Canada and the provincial government, it was determined that those entering the GED or high school credits programs in P.E.I. are not necessarily in need of literacy training, but require further credentials in order to maximize their opportunities and improve their standing within the workforce. Motivation for returning to school seemed to be largely related to labour force aspirations, while family responsibilities and financial concerns were identified as reasons for not returning to school.

In general, results support the need for a “second chance” education system that can provide credentials to those who exited the public school system early or who did not attain the necessary education to enter into specific post-secondary programs.

“These results provide desperately needed information on the literacy skills of those who are attending our Adult Education programs. It clearly shows that most who are attending do so as a means of attaining a needed credential in order to improve labour force attachments or to enter a post-secondary program. This suggests that it is the ‘cream of the crop’ that are returning to further their education, which is a good thing for the individual and their communities. But it also shows us that we need to do more work to attract and service those with lower literacy skills.”
Greg McKenna, Research Consultant at Holland College.

Case Study: A Comparison of College Performance of GED and High School Diploma Students in Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

Little is known about GED learner performance in Canadian community colleges, and in particular how these learners compare to those who follow the traditional high school to post-secondary learning trajectory. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences in performance existed between learners with a high school diploma and those with a GED credential at Holland College and at Nova Scotia Community College.


Eighteen percent of the working populations in both provinces do not have a high school diploma – a clear human capital deficit in the labour force. Adults who obtain a GED credential need opportunities to transition to post-secondary education and work, thus enhancing long term employment options. However, within the learning community a question arises as to the preparedness of those within the second chance education system. Through an evaluation of secondary data this issue was explored by answering the following questions: How does the GED credential compare to a high school diploma as a predictor of grade performance in college? How is performance influenced by age, gender, or program type for GED credentialed learners compared to high school diploma learners? Is there a difference between outcomes in P.E.I. and N.S.?


There was no difference in overall performance between those with a GED or a high school credential. However, important findings were noted. Learners at greatest risk for poor performance were males under age 25 with a GED – especially those within certain program clusters. Females and older learners performed well regardless of program of study or diploma credential. Policy implications for post-secondary educational institutions include GED as a valid credential for access to post-secondary, and the need to provide support for specific at-risk learners. Policies should support opportunities for adults with a GED to transition to post-secondary education, thereby increasing human capital gain through post-secondary education and improved labour market outcomes.

“Findings from this research will go a long way to dispelling some of the myths and misunderstandings associated with those learners who gain a GED credential with the goal of pursuing post-secondary training. We anticipate that this will have a positive impact on college policies that will directly influence learners from the Adult Education system.”
Natalie Worthen, Manager of Adult Education programming – Institute of Adult and Community Education

Case Study: Evaluating Police Cadets for Future Job Performance Liabilities

Multi-Health Systems (MHS), a psychometric testing company, was in the process of developing Canadian normative data for the M-PULSE (Matrix-Predictive Uniform Law Enforcement Selection Evaluation Inventory)™. This test is designed to evaluate those entering policing services for future job performance liabilities. The intent was to collected data on police recruits across Canada in order to validate the use of this instrument in the Canadian context. Holland College Applied Research Department and the Atlantic Police Academy partnered with MHS to assist in gathering data from the Atlantic region.


To provide a sufficient sample of police cadets that would be representative of those who typically enter the Atlantic Police Academy and to follow these cadets through their training and job placement experiences as a means of linking test results to actual performance.


The positive relationship fostered with a key industry player, combined with the significance of the contribution being made to policing services, has been an important component of this project. The project is still in the data collection phases, so outcomes are not yet available, but we look forward to concluding our phase of this study and fully exploring the potential of this type of research initiative.

“One of the great challenges of Canadian Policing Agencies has historically been the lack of the Canadian research data in assessments used for police selection. Holland College’s participation in this initiative means that, going forward, an industry specific assessment will be available with Canadian data. This partnership will propel the industry’s knowledge forward, and therefore we are most appreciative of this significant research contribution.”
Tammy Holwell, MHS Public Safety Division

“The Atlantic Police Academy prides itself on being in the forefront of producing top quality police recruits for Canadian police agencies. We also recognize that remaining in the forefront requires innovative research into the screening and selection process of new police recruits. This joint initiative with the Applied Research Department at Holland College, MHS and the Atlantic Police Academy plays a key role in leading this progressive change in Canadian policing. Leading change is exactly where we want to be!”
Edgar Macleod, Executive Director, Atlantic Police Academy

Case Study: Evaluating the P.E.I. Preschool Excellence Initiative

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation requested an evaluation of the provincial Preschool Excellence Initiative. This evaluation encompasses, developing baseline data, measuring the change from the existing sector to an Early Years system, and transitional impacts related to that change. Holland College was the lead on this project, which assessed the core elements of the initiative in the first year of implementation, including governance, quality, access and sustainability on children and families, programs, communities, and systems.


To provide a baseline measure of core elements during the initial phase of the pre-school initiative so that change over time could be measured. In the midst of the major transition from sector to system, accessing available data and collecting new relevant data in the least intrusive manner while retaining strict adherence to research protocols was necessary.


Despite the challenges of evaluating such a significant transition, the difficulties associated with data access and data gathering were successfully navigated. This baseline data is being analyzed and recommendations will be made to government regarding governance, quality, access and sustainability.

“The importance of this research, given the potential impact it may have on our children – our future leaders, cannot be overstated. Providing our government with the tools it needs to make informed evidence based decisions will ultimately lead to better long term outcomes for our children and our society.”
Dr. Audrey Penner, Director of Applied Research at Holland College and lead researcher on the project

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