Students Urge Provincial Government and Universities to Prioritize Teaching Quality

The Ontario Undergraduate Alliance (OUSA) is proud to announce the release of “Those Who Can, Teach; Evaluating Teaching and Learning Strategies in Ontario’s Universities”, a submission exploring pedagogy and instruction methods within Ontario’s universities. The submission calls on the provincial government and universities to better prioritize teaching quality, and provides nineteen targeted recommendations to improve the caliber of education in universities.

One specific concern addressed in the submission is that of changing faculty complement- specifically, the increase in contract and sessional instructors teaching undergraduate courses in lieu of tenured faculty.

“It’s a way of cutting spending: the university can pay contract staff less for their time, and it frees up tenured faculty for research,” said Jen Carter, President of OUSA. “But the hidden cost is shouldered by both students and instructors: these contract faculty have less job stability, institutional support and often less experience- all factors that impact their effectiveness in the classroom.”

The submission also details how both the government and universities prioritize and reward research success without similar value metrics for teaching. Ontario’s education system is only delivering about 45% as much faculty teaching per student as it did 20 years ago. Concurrently, research has taken up larger and larger proportions of university budgets.

“We know that universities are adjusting to constrained funding and rising enrolment. However- and this seems obvious- students go to university to learn,” said Carter. “So slashing or readjusting budgets to minimize instruction costs isn’t “trimming the fat”— it’s sucking the marrow out of the core mandate of universities.”

However, the submission makes strong and specific recommendations to strengthen and reform teaching in universities. Creating teaching-focused faculty, investing in instructor training (teaching the teachers how to teach), adopting and fostering new pedagogical strategies, and developing learning outcomes for courses are just some recommendations included in the submission.

“It’s not just about injecting additional resources; teaching and learning quality can also be improved by making creative, student-centered changes to content delivery,” said Sean Madden, Executive Director at OUSA. “There is a lot that is exciting and forward-thinking within our recommendations; Ontario has the opportunity to be a front-runner in exploring new pedagogies and quality teaching methods.”

To read “Those Who Can, Teach; Evaluating Teaching and Learning Strategies in Ontario’s Universities”, click here.