Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Predictors of Post-Secondary Academic Outcomes among Local-Born, Immigrant, and International Students in Canada: A Retrospective Analysis

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Predictors of Post-Secondary Academic Outcomes among Local-Born, Immigrant, and International Students in Canada: A Retrospective Analysis

Article excerpt

Introduction

While post-secondary success can be characterized by many elements, including personal and skills development, it is generally defined in most theories and research as good academic performance as reflected in grades or marks, persistent enrolment, and degree completion and graduation (Kuh, Bridges, & Hayek, 2006). Conversely, post- secondary failure encompasses poor academic performance, non-completion of degree, and dropout (Hoyt & Winn, 2004; Kuh et al., 2006; Tinto, 1975, 1993). Dropout can vary by locus (from the institution or from higher education), choice (voluntary or involuntary), and timeframe (temporary or permanent), but is usually defined in most studies and theoretical models as permanent withdrawal from a specific institution (Hoyt & Winn, 2004; Kuh et al., 2006; Tinto, 1975, 1993).

Post-secondary academic failure is a serious concern for educators globally, including those in Canada (Shaienks, Gluszynski, & Bayard, 2008). Rates of underperformance are rising, and student dropout is common, with most attrition occurring in the first year of studies (Bowler, 2009; Paton, 2012; Shaienks & Gluszynski, 2007). Furthermore, the majority of those who drop out tend not to return (Shaienks et al., 2008). Long-term consequences of the lack of a post-secondary education can be substantial, and include lower paying jobs, higher rates of unemployment and job loss, more financial difficulties, and more impact on functioning for the individual (Statistics Canada, 2012a, 2012b).

A wide range of complex and interactive factors contribute to reduced post- secondary achievement. Sociodemographic determinants include older age (Adam et al., 2015; Corak, 2011), male gender (Adam et al., 2015; Wan Chik et al., 2012), non- white ethnicity (Green, 2015; Sopoaga et al., 2013; Woolf, Potts, & McManus, 2011), coming from a single-parent family (Shaienks et al., 2008; Wintre et al., 2011), lack of parental role models with a post-secondary education (Shaienks et al., 2008; Shaienks & Gluszynski, 2007), negative relationships with parents (Wintre & Bowers, 2007; Wintre & Yaffe, 2000), low social support (Shaienks et al., 2008; Shaienks & Gluszynski, 2007), and financial pressures (Pleskac, Keeney, Merritt, Schmitt, & Oswald, 2011; Shaienks & Gluszynski, 2007). Psychosocial variables comprise psychological distress, including mental illness (Andrews & Wilding, 2004; Wintre & Bowers, 2007), substance abuse (Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse [CCSA], 2007; National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse [CASA], 2007), cognitive/learning difficulties (Brooks, Iverson, Sherman, & Roberge, 2010; Hildt, Lieb, & Franke, 2014), interpersonal difficulties (Pleskac et al., 2011; Shaienks & Gluszynski, 2007), and poor coping (Hassan et al., 2006; Lue, Chen, Wang, Cheng, & Chen, 2010). Academic functioning influences include poor fit with the program or institution of study (Schmitt, Oswald, Friede, Imus, & Merritt, 2008; Wintre & Morgan, 2009), low grades or unexpected bad grades (Pleskac et al., 2011; Shaienks & Gluszynski, 2007), low academic engagement (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008; Svanum & Bigatti, 2009), and low academic motivation (Friedman & Mandel, 2010; Park et al., 2012).

Immigrant and international students form a good proportion of post-secondary students, particularly in Western countries (Green, 2015; Shaienks et al., 2008). Emerging data from these countries have noted poorer academic achievement among both immigrant and international post-secondary students compared to local-born peers (Adam et al., 2015; Green, 2015; Stegers-Jager, Steyerberg, Cohen-Schotanus, & Themmen, 2012). More academic year repetition among international students compared to local- born students (Green, 2015) and higher dropout rates among immigrants versus local-born students (Shaienks et al. …

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