The retention and academic success of Québec students is at the heart of the mission of the Ministère de l'Éducation, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche. With a view to developing research on this theme and providing better support and tools to decision-makers and other stakeholders in the education community, the Ministère and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture have created the Research Program on Student Retention and Academic Success (RPSRAS).
The objectives of the RPSRAS are:
To develop knowledge that will serve to foster the academic success of students in their progression through every level of education, and to keep students from abandoning their studies prior to obtaining their diploma
To create partnerships between researchers and practitioners
To foster the appropriation and concrete application of research findings across the school system
Since the creation of the RPSRAS in 2002, seven calls for proposals have been open to the scientific community—with the most recent call for proposals dating back to March 2013—and more than 140 research projects have been funded in priority areas in the field of education.
For this call for proposals, the partners have updated some of the research priorities that had been retained for the previous calls for proposals. New research needs have also been identified in light of the current situation in education and the research findings that have emerged from previously funded projects under the program.
Specifically, the Ministère continues to draw special attention to certain segments of the population, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as students with specific needs (e.g. students with handicaps, social maladjustments or learning disabilities, students having accumulated an academic delay before entry into secondary school, Aboriginal students). Several research priorities have been retained to gain a better understanding of how to foster the retention and academic success of these students.
In keeping with the third objective of the RPSRAS, other priorities seek to shed further light on the factors and mechanisms that foster the understanding of research findings by the different education system stakeholders and support practice renewal and innovation.
In the chapter on boosting labour market performance, one of the objectives of the 2015 Québec Economic Plan is "improving training-job alignment, to increase the percentage of the working population able to adequately meet the sectoral and regional labour force needs of businesses [and] increasing the number of available workers through improved labour market integration of immigrants" (section B, point 99). As such, this call for proposals includes priorities to address both representations of the labour market and the academic and professional integration of immigrant students.
In fact, the effects of the sustained growth of immigration levels in Québec have echoed significantly across Québec society, where the diversity of origins is becoming increasingly evident.
This situation, with all its advantages and disadvantages, also plays out in schools and school boards. In elementary and secondary schools across Québec, children who are born abroad and the children of immigrant parents now represent 26.6% of the student body. In response, the Québec government held a public consultation in early 2015 to adopt a new immigration, diversity and inclusion policy based on interculturalism. The objectives of the latter are in keeping with those outlined in the Ministère's Policy Statement on Educational Integration and Intercultural Education, whose two main orientations are to deploy intercultural education in Québec schools and support the academic success of immigrant students. To that end, some of the priorities set forth in this call for proposals target the integration of refugee students as well as the quality of intercultural relations in schools.
Furthermore, the uses made of ICTs by society and in the context of training and education, as well as distance education, have also clearly emerged as growing trends. What's more, they have transformed how we teach and learn, as well as everyday classroom routines. The very governance of the education networks must adapt to this new reality. It is therefore important to investigate these phenomena across all three sectors, that is, in general education in the youth, in general education in the adult sector, and in vocational training.
Finally, the priorities outlined in this call for proposals also address themes of collaboration with community partners, representations of the labour market, adult training and assessment practices with a view to guiding the Ministère and the education system in its reflections in order to help determine the actions that would best support the retention and academic success of all Québec students.
1. As part of the Concerted Actions program, the Ministère also funds the Programme de recherche sur l'écriture et la lecture, which is designed to develop knowledge to support emergent writing and the improvement of French reading and writing competencies.
2. Consult Appendix 5 (List of Funded Projects). The project summaries of all ongoing projects are available at http://www.frqsc.gouv.qc.ca/en/partenariat/projets-de-recherche?field=0&researcher_name=&year=0&partner=0&proposition=11&submit=Rechercher. Researchers are also invited to consult the project summaries of the projects funded as part of the two calls for proposals, "Approaches and Practices Promoting Student Retention and Academic Success," available at: http://www.frqsc.gouv.qc.ca/en/partenariat/projets-de-recherche?field=0&researcher_name=&year=0&partner=0&proposition=1&submit=Rechercher.
4. MEESR, Service des indicateurs et des statistiques, Système Charlemagne, data generated on April 9, 2015.