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Objective 2:

Emphasize innovative delivery of educational programs and appropriate levels of student aid to improve access to underrepresented population groups


McGill must remain a “university of choice” for talented undergraduate and graduate students from Quebec, Canada, and internationally, and provide them with innovative academic programs and opportunities for research for students at all levels of instruction.


During the past six years there have initiatives to improve student life and learning.These include streamlined student services, increased financial aid, enhancements to technology that facilitate innovative teaching and learning, and increased opportunities for undergraduate research. (Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM); Budget Book FY 2013)

Advances in university-wide course management systems enable more effective delivery of learning opportunities. Internships and practical learning opportunities, some supported with gifts by McGill alumni, expand student learning and leverage relationships with the public sector. Processes for consultation and communication between student groups and members of McGill administration have been strengthened.


Despite robust applicant pools, there has been more limited success in recruiting and enrolling students from lower socio-economic groups, from underserved groups, or other emerging clienteles. Communicating information about services available to students can be strengthened through effective website presentations and other information and communications technologies would enhance the goal of serving students without subjecting users to too many steps to find answers. Enhanced preparation for academic and administrative staff who work directly with students is needed. Expansion of universal design practices will enhance the fit of each student to the environment. (Services for Students Work Group)

Strategy 2.1: McGill will continue to attract and retain the most talented undergraduate, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows, from Quebec, Canada, and around the world by aligning enrolment management strategies with its focus on research intensity, academic distinction and student quality. (SEM, FY 2013 Budget Book, PTFDECE) 

Action2.1.1: Diversify student population by providing substantial financial support for those from lower socio-economic statuses or from under-served and under-represented groups, with special emphasis on Aboriginal students. (Also fulfils Objective 9)

Action 2.1.2: Increase retention and lower time to graduation for undergraduate students by carefully monitoring trends and managing to specific achievable targets.

Action 2.1.3: Maintain McGill’s ratio of undergraduate students to tenure stream faculty among the lowest in the U15 and ensure that undergraduate students have appropriate access to these professors.

Strategy 2.2: McGill will enhance further the quality and level of support services, including advising, mentoring, and other mechanisms that reflect McGill’s primary academic mission and goals and ensure that all students at McGill feel a part of an open and supportive institution. (Budget Book FY 2013; Services for Students Work Group)

Action 2.2.1: Enhance services for emerging clienteles, including those students with exceptional abilities or challenges, while continuing to improve services for all students. (KPI indicator}  (Services for Students Work Group)

Action 2.2.2: Adopt universal design principles and practices in new, renovated, and updated technological systems and physical environments, and also in systems and processes to extend access for all service users. (PTFDECE)

Action 2.2.3: Provide new and/or enhanced professional development opportunities for academic and administrative staff who work directly with students. (Services for Students Work Group)

Strategy 2.3: McGill will use information from cyclical unit review process to strengthen and improve viable and competitive educational programs with special emphasis on innovative and cutting edge approaches.

Action 2.3.1: Develop processes and procedures for the appropriate and improved use of cyclical reviews for improving programs and services.

Strategy 2.4: McGill will enhance and strengthen the international component of student learning in all programs and at all levels.

Action 2.4.1: Establish a co-ordinating mechanism for international activities to further research, teaching, and service with a global emphasis.

Action 2.4.2: Increase student opportunities for internships, and other participation in international research partnerships and outreach activities. (Work Group on Service to Global Community)(Also fulfils Objective 9)

Strategy 2.5: McGill will continue to extend opportunities for undergraduate research. (Strengths and Aspirations; TLS Nexus Project)

Action 2.5.1: Mandate all Faculties to Increase or initiative undergraduate research opportunities, including summer research opportunities, and to monitor and report on them regularly.2

Rationale: To ensure a continued commitment to providing McGill students with the highest quality of teaching and learning the University will encourage and incentivise pedagogical approaches and services that are at the forefront of progressive methodologies, and state of the art pedagogies that keep pace with the latest effective innovations, and that make effective use of advances in information and communications technologies (ICTs).

StrengthsOver the last decade, we have already made extraordinary gains in support services for teaching and learning at McGill, both pedagogically, and in terms of information technologies. Grounded in a commitment to use innovative practices to strengthen delivery of learner-centred educational programs, McGill has developed a highly connected and information-rich technological environment grounded in a pioneering four-pronged approach. The four contributing elements are (1) the design and implementation of innovative teaching practices, (2) a new Learning Management System (LMS), (3) innovative physical spaces including active learning classrooms, and (4) advances in accessing information through McGill’s Libraries. We will continue to build a solid foundation of evidence-based pedagogy that links teaching, learning, and research (TLS ).

ChallengesThe fast pace of change in the availability of technological options has created a pressing need to assess and implement technological arrangements that can deliver the most potential for the McGill context. To achieve our goals, we must move from incremental changes to a platform ready to launch transformation in response to increasingly demanding stakeholder expectations through evolving delivery mechanisms and assessment tools.  A results-based, metric-driven system of assessment will characterize this process. Failure to make the required investments will undoubtedly weaken our position among world university leaders.

Rising national and international university involvement with on-line educational delivery requires serious investigation and analysis of these f technological options. McGill will continue to explore the benefit of partnerships with like-minded peer institutions with a view toward scaling up and expanding these elements, and in order to generate a sufficiently large, varied, and valid data base of experience with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that will be used not only for the distance education experience, but more significantly for what we are and what we do at McGill University to further the on-campus learning experience.  To accomplish this, we must investigate rapidly and decisively how to move from a series of continual incremental changes to a platform ready to launch a true transformation. We must respond to increasingly demanding stakeholders’ expectations, continually evolving delivery mechanisms and assessment tools, and an unforgiving empirically grounded, results-based, metric driven system of assessments for campus-based higher education.

Strategy 2.6: McGill will extend current and create new technological learning environments based on best practices in empirically informed pedagogy. (University Master Plan, TLS; Libraries)

Action 2.6.1: Ensure that all Faculties enhance undergraduate education through the use of the creative linking of pedagogical research to progressive use of information and communications technologies (ITS strategic orientation, SEM proposed action) and the creation of new innovative learning environments (University Master Plan; TLS; Libraries) 

Strategy 2.7: McGill will build on strengths inherent in the 4-pronged combination of transformative teaching and learning services, innovative Learning Management Systems, dynamic learning environments and classroom spaces, and Libraries’ provision of access to information resources. 

Action 2.7.1: Study the integration of information technology into pedagogy in ways that strengthen teaching and learning for the campus-based experience, but based on analytics derived also from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Strategy 2.8: McGill will investigate the value of engaging with open source platforms for the delivery of on-line education in conjunction with one or more partner consortiums of peer institutions.

Action 2.8.1: Analyse the value-added of new ICT platforms and approaches for the University community and for society.

Action 2.8.2: Identify collaborators and establish partnerships that will drive change forward, engage in research about the impact of technology on teaching and learning and their value to the student, to the institution, and to society.

Strategy 2.9: Transform Libraries from warehouses of print materials to high-tech flexible learning spaces while fulfilling their role as guardians of the human record of learning. (Libraries; Also fulfils Objective 1—Academic Renewal; Objective 3—Graduate Education; Objective 4) 

Action 2.9.1: Identify physical and digital storage options for certain parts of McGill’s library collections and implement them quickly and efficiently with the least disruption possible.

Action 2.9.2: Enhance digital Library and archival collections and ensure their effective deployment to end-use.

Action 2.9.3: Develop new and creative uses of library space to enhance student learning while recognizing the Libraries’ historical spaces and symbolic significance.

Action 2.9.4: Develop partnership(s) with other research universities  for additional shared networks of resources and research about student learning.

Action 2.9.5: Design, develop, and deploy a robust repository for McGill investigators and authors  with a focus on establishing independence in these endeavours.

1 Many of these innovations are based on recommendations from the Principal’s Task Force on Student Life and Learning (December 2006) and the Provost’s administrative response (March 2007).
Interdisciplinary undergraduate programs and undergraduate research opportunities are described in Boyer Commission on Undergraduate Education in the Research University, Reinventing Undergraduate Education (Stony Brook, N.Y.: State University of New York, 1998). For a critical assessment of teaching and learning issues, see Raymond Perry and John C. Smart (Eds.), The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: An Evidence-Based Perspective (Springer, 2007). For a recent report on undergraduate research, see Jenkins and Healey, Institutional strategies to link teaching and research. The Higher Education Academy, 2005; Association of American Universities, 2001, Undergraduate Research at Six Research Universities: A Pilot Study for the Association of American Universities.