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Prepared by: Amandeep K. Singh, Ellis Furman, and Ciann L. Wilson, Wilfrid Laurier University.

Executive Summary

In 2013, the Centre for Student Success at Wilfrid Laurier University launched the JUMPStart to Higher Education Program. The objective of the program is to educate Grade 7 and Grade 8 students and families in the Waterloo Region about the multiple pathways to postsecondary education. JUMPStart has four specific goals, which are to:

  • Help students and their families to better understand how a post-secondary education can be achievable.
  • Provide information to assist students and their families in their decisions around streams they choose in high school.
  • Provide information about funding available for postsecondary education.
  • Demystify postsecondary education.

Approximately, 2,640 students participated in JUMPStart. In 2016, JUMPStart reached over 1,180 grade 7 students in the Waterloo Region District School Board. Of these students, 740 completed both pre- and post-surveys and were included in the data analysis. In the same region from 2016 to 2017, 1,440 Grade 8 Students participated. From these students, 1,180 students completed both the pre- and post-surveys and were included in the data analysis. The discrepancies between the numbers can be attributed to multiple reasons including sickness, absence, privacy, peer pressure, lack of English language skills (ELL), learning disabilities (LD), etc.

Through interactive, engaging workshop sessions students were informed about the different pathways to postsecondary education (e.g. apprenticeships, college and university). The workshops sessions also provided information on sources of financial support, high school course selection and career/postsecondary planning. During the session, a video and PowerPoint slideshow, created by the JUMPStart team, were viewed by students that illustrated various career options and their related educational pathways. Additionally, students were provided with workbooks to take home with signature sheets to return to school with the aim of facilitating conversation regarding postsecondary education between students and their parents or guardians. High degrees of family interaction were noted this year with five classes returning 100% of their signature sheets. Based on this high level of participation a total of 83 JUMP campus bursaries were dispersed to students.

Statistically significant intervention effects were found for all questions of the survey; participant scores increased from the pre-survey to the post-survey. The new knowledge-testing questions also produced a higher number of students selecting the correct response from pre to post-survey. Like previous years, students exhibited significant increases in perceived knowledge, awareness, and understanding after participating in the sessions.

The JUMPStart program continues to significantly contribute to middle school students’ knowledge, awareness, and understanding of postsecondary education enhancing youth knowledge readiness for the challenges of educational and career planning. Ongoing program evaluation reveals that the Laurier JUMPStart program is meeting the previously mentioned goals. In addition, Laurier’s JUMPStart program is strongly aligned with the “Creating Pathways to Success” initiative put forth by the Ontario Ministry of Education, in providing students with information to advance their self-knowledge, a guided exploration of education and career opportunities, information to assist students in making informed curriculum decisions for employment and career goal planning, with increased knowledge and financial planning tools to achieve their personal life goals.

Acknowledgements

This program evaluation report was made possible because of the support from various stakeholder groups. The research team would like to give a special thanks to the Astley Family Foundation for funding the program. Also, we are grateful for the research support provided by the Centre for Student Services at Laurier and the school support staff at each data collection site. Lastly, we would like to thank all the teachers and students that participated in the JUMPStart program.

Introduction

The Poverty Reduction Research Group (PRRG) housed within Laurier’s Centre for Community, Research, Learning and Action (CCRLA) was hired under the direction of Dr. Terry Mitchell to conduct a three-year pilot program evaluation for the JUMPStart to Higher Education initiative. The program evaluation for JUMPstart has since been inherited by Dr. Ciann L. Wilson, who directs the Access and Equity Research Group within CCRLA. This year marks the fourth year of the JUMPStart Program and has moved out of being a pilot project. The program design, method, evaluation objectives, challenges, and overall findings of the intervention in relation to the program’s objectives can be found in this document. Additionally, results pertaining to the differences in school and gender are also presently. The evaluation report concludes with recommendations for the JUMPStart programs as well as for the evaluation process going forward.

Program Rationale

Created by the Centre for Student Success at Laurier, the JUMPStart program began in 2013 as a three-year pilot project. The centre is composed of six units:

  • Accessible Learning Centre
  • Central Academic Advising Office
  • Intercultural Development Office
  • Mathematics Assistance Centre
  • Study Skills & S. I. Centre
  • Writing Centre

These units offer resources through a wide variety of program and services set to enhance and support the academic experience of students at Laurier. The programs and services assist with mathematical and writing skills, as well as workshops on time management, exam preparation and stress management.

The Centre for Student Success designed the JUMPStart program to help facilitate the discussion about various pathways to postsecondary education among youth and their families at an optimal age. Few opportunities exist for elementary school children in grades 7 and 8 to access information and resources regarding postsecondary education and thus, they are the target population of the program. Generally, exposure to information pertaining to higher education occurs when students are enrolled in a mandatory career course. The dearth of exposure to this vital information prior to high school can be challenging as students are required to complete high school course selection during their grade 8 academic year. Students are then required to make decisions about entering the applied or academic stream in high school, without prior knowledge of high school course requirements for postsecondary admission. As a result of these findings1, JUMPStart was designed to address this barrier to postsecondary participation by providing interactive workshops about the different pathways into postsecondary education (e.g. apprenticeships, college, and university) available to students.

The JUMPStart program complements the “Creating Pathways to Success” initiative put forth by the Ontario Ministry of Education, which is an education and career/life planning program inside and outside the classroom for students, parents and the broader community to obtain information that will allow them to make informed decisions regarding their education, career and life choices (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013). 

Notes

1Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013). An education and career/life planning program for Ontario schools, policy and program requirements, Kindergarten to Grade 12, 2013. Retrieved from edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/policy/cps/.

Program Description

The main goal of the JUMPStart Program is to “jumpstart” the conversation around postsecondary education, so that students can make more informed decisions about their futures in Grade 8. The program is offered to interested schools, that are situated within neighbourhoods with significantly higher proportions of families who are at risk socially or economically, within the Waterloo Region District School Board. 

Program Objectives

The JUMPStart Program consists of four main objectives, which are to:

  • Help students and their families to better understand how a postsecondary education can be achieved.
  • Provide information to assist students and their families in the decision-making process in grade 8 to academic streams in high school.
  • Provide information about funding opportunities for postsecondary education.
  • Demystifying postsecondary education by providing students with social or economic needs with an opportunity to experience a university setting through the Laurier campus based residential JUMP program.

Program Outputs

The three main program outputs of the JUMPStart Program are information sessions, supplementary marketing and educational materials, and bursary support.

Information Sessions

Information sessions are used to demystify post-secondary education and provide knowledge regarding the multiple pathways to higher education.

Students

Sessions consist of fun and interactive workshops delivered by Faculty of Education students. The sessions are tailored for specific grade levels (e.g. grade 7 and 8) and incorporate information about:

  • study strategies
  • career opportunities
  • postsecondary education opportunities
  • ways to finance your education
  • the importance of grade 9 course selection.
Families

Sessions are delivered by university administrators at locations and times convenient to students’ families. The sessions include:

  • Information on the various pathways to postsecondary education.
  • Information about the various ways to finance postsecondary education.
  • Information on available career opportunities and earnings.
  • Information on the importance of course selection for grade 9.
Educational Providers

Sessions cover similar topics to those addressed in the parent and student sessions and are designed to assist their roles as mentors to the students.

Supplementary Marketing and Educational Materials

Supplementary marketing and educational materials are used to provide further information and resources to stakeholders to refer to when making future decisions around education.

Bursary Support

Bursary support is also available for students with financial barriers to attend Laurier’s Junior University Multidisciplinary Program (JUMP), which is a three-day residential program that takes place at Laurier during the months of May and June. The program is delivered to students in grades 5-8, and aims to encourage higher education by having students experience university life through attending courses and various campus activities and events.

Intended Target Population and Program Reach

The target population of the JUMPStart program has three distinct characteristics in relation to location, age and socioeconomic status.

  • Location: The program caters to students within the geographic boundaries outlined by the Waterloo Region District School Board.
  • Age group: The program is designed for elementary students in Grades 7 and 8.
  • Socioeconomic status: Particular focus for recruitment is given to schools situated in neighbourhoods with families with a lower socioeconomic status. The decision to target these neighbourhoods was made due to the needs noted by the K-W Community Foundation in their Vital Signs 2010 report. The report demonstrates that a 13% child poverty rate exists within the Waterloo Region. Furthermore, 20% of students within the region do not have a secondary school diploma, putting these students at a disadvantage when entering the workforce. Employees without a secondary school diploma will usually work within the retail or labour sector earning $10 to $13.50/ hour, whereas employee working in more highly skilled sectors (e.g. trade, business services and high-tech industries) will earn $15 to $25.00/ hour. The JUMPStart program strives to have a positive impact on these local statistics through empowering students and families by equipping them with information about post-secondary education so they can make more informed decisions.

In the pilot year of JUMPStart, the creators envisioned reaching over 1,000 students, anticipating a larger ripple effect for the program in the future. The target goal was met with over 1,000 students participating in year 1 and over 1,100 reach in year 2, which included an additional 700 grade 7 students. In Year 3, approximately 1,100 students participated. In the current year, year 4, approximately 2,640 grade 7 and 8 students participated.

Program staff hope in the long-term the program becomes self-sustaining while maintaining high levels of participation. In addition, program staff hope that JUMPStart students who pursue postsecondary education become ambassadors of the programs, sharing their knowledge of postsecondary pathways, and demystifying postsecondary education for their younger siblings and the larger community.

Implementation

The implementation section outlines what aspects of the program occurred and what aspects had to be modified based on available resources.

Activities and Outputs

In the first year of the pilot program, due to limited time and resources, sessions were only delivered to students and not to families and education providers. In the second year of the program, sessions were delivered to students as well as to the School Council group at Doon P.S. and School Success consultants at the Waterloo catholic District School Board. In the third year, the sessions were delivered to students and staff in eight schools within the Waterloo Region District Board. Due to time constraints and extensive workloads in regard to the School Council agenda, the sessions were not administered to families and education providers. This year, the fourth year of the program:

  • Sessions were delivered to students and staff in 10 schools within the Waterloo Region District School Board by two Laurier Faculty of Education graduates. Those taking part in the student sessions include teachers, Occasional Teachers (OT’s) EA’s, administrators, library clerks, teachers with a small guidance component (usually .1 to .3 of their teaching 1.0 FTE), and Faculty of Education students completing a teaching practicum. There were no separate sessions for parents and educators. The content covered in these sessions consisted of:
    • postsecondary pathways,
    • apprenticeships,
    • college,
    • university,
    • careers and education routes,
    • sources of financial support,
    • entrance requirements, and
    • planning for postsecondary education. 
  • Supplementary marketing and educational materials were given to all stakeholder groups. Students were shown a video about the interaction of postsecondary education and different career options (sample clip: youtube.com/watch?v=UavTZnm2rio) and were given a workbook that was used throughout the session. The video and workbook were meant to facilitate conversations about postsecondary education between students and their parents. The workbook contained tear-away slips which students were to return to their teachers with their parents’ signature verifying that they discussed the topics at home.
  • The bursary for Laurier’s Junior University Multidisciplinary Program (JUMP) was awarded to classes with 100% completed and returned tear-away slips. Same as last year, five classes returned 100% of the tear-away slips. 83 bursaries were provided. One class went to JUMP, which is three days and two nights. Two classes attended Mini-JUMP, which is two days and one night.

Evaluation

The Centre for Student Success at Laurier commissioned the Poverty Reduction Research Group housed within the Centre for Community Research, Learning, and Action (CCRLA) to conduct a summative evaluation (i.e. an evaluation of the components and outcomes of the program). The goal of the evaluation was to determine the extent to which the program is meeting its stated objectives and how the process of meeting those objectives can be improved. 

Program Participants

The JUMPStart program was successfully administered to students from 10 different schools, resulting in a total of 1,973 respondents across grades 7 and 8. However, the data utilized in this report only accounts for students who completed both a pre- and post- survey. For this report, there were no unforeseen circumstances that resulted in the loss of or disruption in data. All participants were enrolled within the Waterloo Region District School Board.

Out of 1,180 grade 8 students from 10 schools that completed the evaluation survey, this report solely presents data from 994 students who completed pre- and post-surveys (see Table 1: Evaluation Survey of Elementary Schools Included in the JUMPStart Program for Grade 8 in 2016/17, below). Out of 994 grade 8 students, 937 students provided their age (5.5% missing). The average age of participants for grade 8 was 13.60 years old, with a range of 12 to 14 years. This year a third option for gender was also included. 434 (43.8%) of these students identified as male, 447 (45.1%) identified as females, 38 (3.8%) identified as other, and 55 (5.5%) did not answer this question. 

Out of 793 grade 7 students from nine schools that completed the evaluation survey, this report presents data from 740 students who completed pre- and post-surveys (see Table 2: Evaluation Survey  of Elementary Schools Included in the JUMPStart Program for Grade 7 in 2016, below). Out of 740 grade 7, only 689 students provided their age (6.9% missing). The average age of participants for grade 7 was 12.39 years old, with a range of 11 to 13 years. This year, “another way,” was included as the third option for gender. 359 (48.5%) of these students identified as male, 302 (40.8%) identified as female, 22 (2.9%) identified in another way, and 57 (7.7%) did not answer this question.

Table 1: Evaluation Survey for Elementary Schools Included in the JUMPStart Program for Grade 8 in 2016/17
DateSchool Name# of Classes# of All Student
Responses
# of Valid
Responses
Special
Circumstances
Nov. 21, 22 Laurentian 8 150 143 N/A
Nov. 28, 29 Sunnyside 8 205 169 Large ELL population; Syrian refugees.
Dec. 6 to 7 Doon 7 200 166 N/A
Dec. 19, 20 W.M. G. Davis 7 190 127 Includes one class of enrichment students grade 7/8.
Jan. 11 Courtland 4 93 79 Includes one class of enrichment students grade 7/8.
Jan. 26 Wellesley 3 49 41 Approximately 20% David Martin Mennonite.
Jan. 31 Stewart 3 70 67 N/A
Feb. 8 Breslau 3 42 40 N/A
Feb. 28 A.R. Kaufman 3 42 34 Large ELL population and LD class.
March 21 Margaret 6 139 128 N/A
Table 2: Evaluation Survey for Elementary Schools Included in the JUMPStart Program for Grade 7 in 2016
DateSchool Name# of Classes# of All Student
Responses
# of Valid
Responses
Special
Circumstances
April 7 Stewart Ave. 3 61 60 Large ELL population.
April 12, 13 Doon 7 183 179 N/A
May 5 Courtland 4 90 87 Large ELL population.
May 24, 25 Laurentian 8 118 114 N/A

May 31

A.R. Kaufman 3 38 34 Large ELL population; LD class.
June 9, 10 Sunnyside 7 154 130 Large ELL population including Syrian refugees.
June 21, 22 Margaret 6 149 136 N/a

Surveys

Surveys were designed to assess the impact of the intervention session on the students’ knowledge and program satisfaction. We also assessed participants’ experiences concerning the length of the sessions and how informative the session was. Demographic information (i.e. age and gender) was also collected. For grade 8, a 12-item survey was administered at the beginning of the session (pre-survey) and the 14-item end of the session (post-survey) was administered (see Appendix A). For Grade 7, a 10-item pre-survey was administered and at the end of the session a 12-item post-survey was administered (see Appendix B).

Table 3: Program Objectives and Corresponding Survey Questions for Grade 8, outlines how the grade 8 survey was designed to assess whether the intervention session was successful in achieving the program’s objectives. Table 4: Program Objectives and Corresponding Survey Questions for Grade 7, outlines the design of the grade 7 survey to assess intervention success.

Table 3: Program Objectives and Corresponding Survey Questions for Grade 8
Program ObjectivesSurvey Question
Numbers
Help students and their families to better understand how a postsecondary education can be achievable. 2 and 3
Provide information to assist students and their families in their decisions in grade 8 around streams they choose for high school. 5 and 6
Provide information about funding available for postsecondary education. 4
Demystify postsecondary education for students and their families. 1, 2, 3 and 7

Creating Pathways to Success Four Areas of Learning:

  • Exploring opportunities
  • Making decisions and setting goals
  • Achieving goals and making transitions
8, 9, 10, 11 and 12
Program experience. 13 and 14
Table 4: Program Objectives and Corresponding Survey Questions for Grade 7
Program ObjectivesSurvey Question
Numbers
Explore how skills, interests, values and personality make us unique. 2, 3, 4 and 6
Determine how skills, interests, values and personality influence career choices. 1, 5 and 8
Investigate jobs that are related to specific skills and interests. 7
Become familiar with job interview protocols. 9 and 10

Program experience.

11 and 12

Survey Administration

Data was collected electronically using iClicker technology. The pre-survey questions were embedded in the PowerPoint presentation and presented one by one to the students by the facilitators before the intervention. The post-survey was administered after the intervention using the same methods. All students were given an iClicker remote to respond to the survey questions presented in the PowerPoint presentation. The same iClicker for both the pre- and post-surveys were used by the students to ensure that the data was connected to the same students. Student responses were sent to the instructor hub and were processed by the iClicker software. Response data was manually entered into SPSS by a member of the evaluation research team. 

Session Length

Session lengths varied depending on school timetables. The sessions tended to range between 90 and 120 minutes.

Missing Data

For this report, there were no unforeseen circumstances that did not allow for data collection. However, missing data for surveys can be attributed to multiple reasons. A significant number of students at each school were unable to take part in pre- and post-surveys due to lack of ELL, learning disabilities, arriving late to school, being called out of class to participate in other activities, appointments or illness. To summarize:

  • Data was removed from participants who did not complete either the pre-test or post-test measures.
  • 1,440 grade 8 students participated in the JUMPStart intervention. 1,180 individuals completed evaluation surveys, however, many of the surveys were incomplete. 188 cases were removed, leaving us with a new total of 992 grade 8 students in our sample.
  • 1,180 grade 7 students participated in the JUMPStart intervention. 793 individuals completed evaluation surveys, however, many of the surveys were incomplete. 53 cases were removed, leaving us with a new total of 740 grade 7 students in our sample.

Results

This section presents the results of the survey pre- and post-survey questions by looking at the program objectives as a whole and individually. The results will be presented in the order of grade 8 first and then grade 7. The program objectives and corresponding questions were previously outlined in table 3 and 4, respectively. We conducted paired-sample t-tests for each question to compare participants’ responses from the pre-program survey with matching responses from the post-program survey. IBM SPSS statistical software was used to analyze the data. The data analyses revealed statistically significant intervention effects of all 12 questions (Q1 to Q12) across the 10 JUMPStart sites for grade 7 and grade 8 students (p < .001). Findings reveal that the differences between the pre- and post-survey means (mean change) were large enough for each question, that they were influenced by the intervention as opposed to being due to chance alone.

Overview of Program Objectives for Grade 8

Pre- and Post-Survey Results for Grade 8 Students
Survey QuestionPre-SurveyPost-SurveyMean ChangeN
Q1: I know the difference between an apprenticeship, college and university. 2.74 4.30 1.55 874
Q2: You can become a licensed tradesperson after you have… 3.13 3.18 .05 817
Q3: I am aware of how long it takes to complete the different levels of education: Apprenticeship, college, and university. 3.31 4.22 .91 876
Q4: Which of these sources of financial aid do you have to pay back? 2.24 2.18 .06 823
Q5: I know the difference between academic and applied high school courses. 4.31 4.60 .29 886
Q6: I understand that I need to take different high school courses depending on whether I want to attend college, university or a an apprenticeship. 3.89 4.43 .54 864
Q7: How likely is it that you will apply to college/ university/ apprenticeship? 4.16 4.37 .21 858

Q8: I am aware of how certain opportunities (e.g., recreational, social, volunteer and part-time employment) are related to certain careers.

3.69 4.34 .66 854

Q9: I have a good sense of my personal and educational/ career goals.

3.87 4.14 .27 880

Q10: I understand the steps required to achieve my educational/career goals.

3.67 4.20 .53 878

Q11: A common reason why certain jobs no longer exist is because:

2.81 3.10 .29 840

Q12: I understand how global trends will influence careers in the future.

3.51 4.14 .63 886

Q13: How informative did you find this presentation?

N/A 4.13 N/A 941

Q14: How did you find the length of the presentation?

N/A 3.66 N/A 948

Program Objective 1 and 4

Program objectives 1 and 4 had two overlapping questions (questions 2 and 3) and therefore will be discussed together. Program objectives 1 and 4 concerned demystifying postsecondary education and helping students and their families better understand how a postsecondary education can be achievable. Survey questions 1, and 3 assessed knowledge, understanding and awareness of these topics. Statistically significant intervention effects were found on all questions (ps < .001). Questions 1 and 3 produced sizeable mean changes (1.55 and .91), indicating increased knowledge post-intervention. While the mean changes for questions 2 and 7 are smaller (.05 and .21), the significant analyses still suggest substantial changes from pre-intervention to post-intervention.

Program Objective 2

The second program objective was to provide information to assist students and their families in their decisions in grade 8 around choosing applied or academic streams in high school. This was assessed through survey questions 5 and 6. Data analyses for questions 5 and 6 were found to be statistically significant (p < .001). Participants demonstrated the highest pre-intervention score for question 5, resulting in a modest mean change (.29) between elevated pre- and post-scores. Question 6 demonstrates that while participants were initially aware of different high school requirements for postsecondary options, participants improved with a mean change of .54 after the intervention.

Program Objective 5

The fifth program objective was to align the JUMPStart program with the four areas of learning outlined in the Ministry of Education's “Creating Pathways to Success” document. These four areas are: knowing yourself, exploring opportunities, making decisions and setting goals, and achieving goals and making transitions. JUMPStart specifically targeted the following areas of learning:

  • Exploring opportunities: questions 8, 11 and 12
  • Making decisions and setting goals: question 9
  • Achieving goals and making transitions: question 10

The pre-post differences for questions 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 were statistically significant (p < .001), indicating participant improvement after the intervention.

Program Objective 6

The sixth program objective concerns participants’ experiences of the program. This objective was assessed through post-measure questions 13 and 14 that asked students how informative they found the session and how they felt about the length of the session. The mean response for question 13 was 4.13, indicating that participants found the intervention to be quite informative. When asked about the presentation length (Q14), participants rated this aspect of the intervention slightly lower with a mean score of 3.66.

Overview of Program Objectives for Grade 7

Pre- and Post-Survey Results for Grade 8 Students
Survey QuestionPre-SurveyPost-SurveyMean ChangeN
Q1: I understand how my skills and interests may influence my choice in career. 3.80 4.49 .69 638
Q2: I am able to identify many of my own skills and interests. 3.98 4.42 .44 621
Q3: I understand what personal ‘values’ are. 3.51 4.25 .74 682
Q4: I have a good idea of what my own values are. 3.73 4.30 .57 679
Q5: I understand how my own values may influence my choice of career. 3.86 4.43 .57 685
Q6: I know the difference between “personal” and “interpersonal” skills. 3.00 4.16 1.16 689
Q7: I am able to describe my own personal and interpersonal skills. 3.37 4.19 .82 692
Q8: I understand how my personal and interpersonal skills may influence my choice of career. 3.58 4.37 .79 681
Q9: I will likely have an interview for a part-time job within the next two or three years. 3.85 4.17 .32 690
Q10: I know the “do’s” and “don’ts” of being interviewed for a job. 3.66 4.67 1.01 688
Q11: I found this presentation to be interesting and informative. N/A 4.16 N/A 721
Q12: I found this presentation to be: too short, just right, or too long. N/A 2.29 N/A 712

Program Objective 1

The first program objective was to provide information about individual skills, interests, values, and the personality traits that make people unique. This was assessed through survey questions 2, 3, 4, and 6. Question 2 focused on identifying ones own skills and interests, while question 3 uncovered participants’ personal values. Question 4 further delved into understanding ones own personal values, and questions 6 provided an opportunity to reflect on the difference between personal and interpersonal skills. Data analyses for questions 2, 3, 4, and 6 revealed significant differences between the pre- and post-intervention mean scores. Specifically, questions 2 and 4 resulted in medium-sized mean changes of .44 and .57, while questions 3 and 6 resulted in larger mean changes of .74 and 1.16.

Program Objective 2

The second program objective was to provide information about determining how skills, interests, values, and personality influence career choices. This was assessed through survey questions 1, 5, and 8. Question 1 assessed understanding of how one’s skills and interests may influence career choices. Question 5 looked at how individual values may influence career choices. Question 8 uncovered how personal and interpersonal skills may influence career choices. Results of this program objective convey that participants became significantly more understanding of how their skills, interests, and values may influence their career choices (p < .001). All three questions resulted in sizeable mean changes (.69, .57, an .79).

Program Objective 3

The third program objective was to provide information about exploring job opportunities that align with one’s specific skills and interests. This was assessed through survey question 7, which assessed one’s capacity to describe their own personal and interpersonal skills. The large mean change (.82) from pre- to post-intervention suggests that participants significantly improved in describing personal and interpersonal skills (p < .001).

Program Objective 4

The fourth program objective was to provide information about investigating jobs that are related to specific skills and interests. This was assessed through survey questions 9 and 10. Question 9 looked at participants’ likelihood of having an interview for a part-time job within the next 2 or 3 years. Question 10 assessed participants’ ability to know the “do’s” and “don’ts” of being interviewed for a job. Our results suggest that participants made significant modest increase in envisioning the prospect of engaging in a part-time job interview in the next 2 or 3 years, with a mean change of .32 (p < .001). Conversely, participants made significant large improvements for question 10, with a mean change of 1.01 (p < .001).

Program Objective 5

The fifth program objective concerns participants’ experiences of the program. This objective was assessed through post-measure questions 11 and 12 that asked students how informative they found the session and how they felt about the length of the session. The mean response for question 13 was 4.16, indicating that participants found the intervention to be quite interesting and informative. When asked about the presentation length (Q14), participants rated this aspect of the intervention slightly lower with a mean score of 2.29, indicating that the presentation was somewhere in between “too long” and “just right”.

Gender Differences

Gender analyses were performed on the subset of the sample that provided gender information. It was found that there were no significant differences across gender groups for both grade 7 and 8 students, allowing us to concluding that gender did not contribute to changes in pre- and post-test scores.

Differences Between Schools

A cross-school comparison was conducted for both grade 7 and 8 students. There were not significant differences found across each school group, allowing us to conclude that school did not influence the differences between pre- and post-test scores.

Challenges and Recommendations

Missing Data

It is suggested, similar to previous years, that any unforeseen circumstances be noted which may have led to missing data. It was noted that for this report there were no such circumstances that may have led to missing data. However, multiple other reasons may have resulted in the missing data. This included:

  • Lack of ELL.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Privacy concerns.
  • Need to conform to peers.
  • Arriving late to school.
  • Being called out of class to participate in other activities.
  • Appointments.
  • Illness.

Data Collection

Timing

In future iterations of JUMPStart, it would be beneficial to collect data for grade 7 and grade 8 within the same academic year. For the purposes of this report, grade 7 data was collected near the end of the 2016 school year, while grade 8 data was collected throughout the 2016/17 year. Synchronizing data collection for both grades could decrease the possibility of time impacting the evaluation results and providing information that can be better matched. 

iClickers

The use of iClicker technology remained beneficial to students – who found them interactive and fun – as well as program staff who no longer had to deliver and pick-up paper materials, or pay for printing and other costs (e.g. travel). Collecting data in-session also has its benefits as intervention effects are being measured in real-time rather than the next day. However, although more costly and time-consuming, data sets were more complete then when paper surveys were administered.

A number of students did not complete all electronic survey questions, so there are unequal numbers of students within the same session, which also led to some data being taken out of analysis. Some barriers can to using iClickers include ELL, learning disabilities, not being present both times, in-session distractions, less privacy when responding, and more pressure to conform to peer responses.

Collecting data in-session also has its benefits as intervention effects are being measured in real-time rather than the next day. However, although more costly and time-consuming, data sets were more complete then when paper surveys were administered. Furthermore, although designed to automate data collection (i.e., no longer require members of the research team to manually enter survey data), iClickers only provide non-numeric (i.e. A, B, C, D, E) multiple choice responses with no numeric option; in order to perform statistical analyses, the data need to be numeric. Thus, a member of the JUMPStart team had to manually convert the non-numeric response data into numeric form (i.e. A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5).

Going forward, it is recommended that data is input after each session and the data file is sent to the research team for review periodically throughout the JUMPStart program. Lastly, it is important that when new questions are added or revised that their response options are compatible with iClicker’s response set.

The demographic question pertaining to gender was changed from open-ended to a response option of male or female. The gender options were presented as: a) male and e) female, leaving options b) c) and d) blank. As a result, students who identify as male or female were about to select their gender, leaving participants who do not identify as male or female to select one of b) c) or d). This format presented challenges while preparing the dataset for analysis as it was unclear whether participants selected options b) c) or d) because they identified with genders beyond male or female, or if these were selected because the question formatting was confusing for Grade 7 and 8 students. In future JUMPStart surveys, it would be beneficial to create clear gender options that provide participants to select binary and non-binary gender options. For simplicity, providing an option to select “other” would protect students against potential discomfort in a forced selection of either male or female genders. Another suggestion would be providing more than two gender options, for instance: “male”, “female”, “transgender”, “do not identify as female, male, or transgender”, and “prefer not to answer.”

Feedback Forms

Each class should collectively fill out a feedback form and these forms should be a mandatory component of the program as they provided very useful comments on how to improve the overall effectiveness and implementation of the session.

Usability Testing

Prior to the launch of the intervention, detailed usability testing on intervention materials should be conducted with all major stakeholders. The testing should focus on appropriateness of language, method of delivery and content levels for each specific grade. 

Parental Engagement

As was the case in the first year of the program, parental engagement was primarily achieved through the workbook that was sent home with students. Parental engagement was indicated through the tear-off forms that they signed. This year, five classes had 100% return rate. Early engagement and support from parents is crucial to create large scale program buy-in and commitment. Parents could potentially be engaged though general school information nights that take place at the start of the semester, announcements at school events, parent committee meetings and/or parent-teacher nights. Educational flyers could be sent home with students with a space for evaluation check boxes on the workbook slips. It is also crucial to understand why parents may not be returning slips, and what barriers may be faced by students in returning the tear-off slips. It is suggested that parents be provided an opportunity to address or bring awareness to any barriers they may encounter in engagement through information nights, parent-teacher nights, etc. 

Research Team Engagement

The research team and JUMPStart facilitators should work closely together to design and execute the evaluation process of the program. This will allow for stronger evaluation instruments, identify any errors early, and apply a solution quickly. Continued collaboration will increase the quality of the data going forward.

Changes to the Measures

It is recommended that future knowledge-based questions are tested previous to data collection to ensure there is a bell curve. Preferably, knowledge-testing questions will produce an even distribution across response range, prior to the workshop intervention in order to reveal program effects. It is recommended that the research team and JUMPStart facilitators work closely together to ensure grade level of survey questions are adequate. Additionally, it is possible that students may have been sharing responses with one another. It is recommended that students are reminded not to talk to each other during the pre- and post-survey in order to increase privacy as well as strengthen the quality of data. Lastly, it is possible students held higher levels of knowledge pertaining to the new questions (i.e. trades, financial aid, and global trends of employment).

Conclusion

The JUMPStart to Higher Education program has reached over 5,000 students in the Waterloo Region in the past four years. Results show that the intervention continues to have a positive impact on student knowledge, awareness, and understanding of post-secondary education pathways and funding opportunities. Significant intervention effects were found on all eight questions of the survey for grade 7 students and 10 questions for grade 8 students, confirming that the JUMPStart program was successful in meeting its objectives for both grade 8 and grade 7 participants. Participant evaluation data provides evidence that the students’ understanding of how post-secondary education can be funded and achieved was improved. The program helped demystify post-secondary education and increased knowledge discerning the differences between academic and applied streams in high school.

In the previous evaluations of JUMPStart, knowledge regarding the different streams of post-secondary education and funding opportunities was assessed through perceived knowledge questions. It was recommended by the evaluation team to change these perceived knowledge questions into actual knowledge-based questions. Although students already possessed high levels of knowledge regarding post-secondary education and a high likelihood of applying to postsecondary programs, the intervention increased knowledge about post-secondary school pathways and funding opportunities with increased reported likelihood of attending postsecondary education institutions. Overall, the students found the presentation to be informative and were satisfied with the length of the presentation.

The JUMPStart program significantly contributes to middle school students’ knowledge, awareness, and understanding of post-secondary education enhancing youth knowledge readiness for the challenges of educational and career planning. Ongoing program evaluation reveals that the Laurier JUMPStart program is meeting its goals of:

  • Helping students and their families to better understand how a postsecondary education can be achievable.
  • Providing information to assist students and their families in their decisions in grade 8 around streams they choose in high school.
  • Providing information about funding available for post-secondary education.
  • Demystify postsecondary education.

In conclusion, Laurier’s JUMPStart program in strongly aligned with the Ministry of Education's “Creating Pathways to Success” document in providing students with information to advance their self-knowledge, a guided exploration of education and career opportunities, with information to assist students in making informed curriculum decisions for employment and career goal planning with increased knowledge and financial planning tools to achieve their personal life goals.

Appendix A: Grade 8 Survey 2016/17

JUMPStart Pre-Survey

1. My age is

  • 12
  • 13
  • 14

2. I am a

  • Male
  • Female

3. I know the difference between an apprenticeship, college and university.

  • Not at all knowledgeable
  • Somewhat knowledgeable
  • Very knowledgeable

4. You can become a licensed tradesperson after you have: 

A. Finished high school
B. Completed a university degree
C. Watched one season of "Holmes on Homes"
D. Completed an apprenticeship
E. Passed an online course through an Ontario college

5. I am aware of how long it takes to complete the different levels of education: apprenticeship, college and university.

  • Not aware at all
  • Somewhat aware
  • Completely aware

6. Which of these sources of financial aid do you have to pay back?

A. A scholarship
B. A student loan
C. A bursary
D. A gift from a relative
E. You don't have to pay back any of the above

7. I know the difference between academic and applied high school courses.

  • Not at all knowledgeable
  • Somewhat knowledgeable
  • Very knowledgeable

8. I understand that I need to take different high school courses depending on whether I want to attend college, university or a an apprenticeship.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

9. How likely is it that you will apply to college/ university/ apprenticeship?

  • Not at all likely
  • Somewhat likely
  • Very likely

10. I am aware of how certain opportunities (e.g., recreational, social, volunteer and part-time employment) are related to certain careers.

  • Not at all aware
  • Somewhat aware
  • Completely aware

11. I have a good sense of my personal and educational/ career goals.

  • Strongly disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly agree

12. I understand the steps required to achieve my educational/career goals.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

13. A common reason why certain jobs no longer exist is because:

A. They don't pay well enough
B. They are too boring
C. Technology has improved
D. Training costs too much
E. The government made them illegal

14. I understand how global trends will influence careers in the future.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

Post-Survey Questions

The following questions were added to the pre-survey questions to make the post-survey.

15. How informative did you find this presentation?

  • Not at all informative
  • Somewhat informative
  • Very informative

16. How did you find the length of the presentation?

  • Too long
  • Just right
  • Too short

Appendix B: Grade 7 Survey 2016

JUMPStart Pre-Survey

1. Which of the following describes the way you think of your gender?

A. Male
B. Female
C. Another way

2. My age is:

A. 11
B. 12
C. 13
D. 14

3. I understand how my skills and interests may influence my choice in career.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

4. I am able to identify many of my own skills and interests.

  • Strongly disagree
  • Neither disagree/agree
  • Strongly agree

5. I understand what personal ‘values’ are.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

6. I have a good idea of what my own values are.

  • Strongly disagree
  • Neither disagree/agree
  • Strongly agree

7. I understand how my own values may influence my choice of career.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

8. I know the difference between academic “personal” and “interpersonal” skills.

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

9. I am able to describe my own personal and interpersonal skills.

  • Strongly disagree
  • Neither disagree/agree
  • Strongly agree

10. I understand how my personal and interpersonal skills may influence my choice of career

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

11. I will likely have an interview for a part-time job within the next 2 or 3 years

  • Strongly disagree
  • Neither disagree/agree
  • Strongly agree

12. I know the “do’s” and “don’ts” of being interviewed for a job

  • Do not understand
  • Somewhat understand
  • Completely understand

Post-Survey Questions

The following questions were added to the pre-survey questions to make the post-survey.

13. I found this presentation to be interesting and informative

  • Not at all interesting and informative
  • Somewhat interesting and informative
  • Very interesting and informative

14. I found this presentation to be

A. Too short
B. Just right
C. Too long

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