CSSIC Research Fellowship

College Student Success Innovation Centre (CSSIC)

Research Fellowship

A new funding opportunity for scholars whose research supports student success.

The 2023 competition is now closed.

The College Student Success Innovation Centre (CSSIC) at Mohawk College invites emerging and established external scholars at Canadian postsecondary institutions whose research is positioned to promote college student success to apply for the CSSIC Research Fellowship.

Application Details


$25,000 to $100,000 per project

(Maximum total funding envelope: $100,000)

Fellowship Duration

1 to 3 years 

(Research development and implementation must not exceed 2 years; applicants may only plan for a third year to support completion of knowledge dissemination and mobilization activities) 

Application DeadlineOctober 20, 2023 (8:00 pm EDT)
Results AnnouncedApril 2024
Anticipated Start DateMay 2024
How to Apply

Review the Call for Applications and prepare submission requirements.


All application components should be compiled into a single PDF and emailed to cssic [at] mohawkcollege.ca (cssic[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca) by the deadline. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be adjudicated. 

For More Information

Email the CSSIC (cssic [at] mohawkcollege.ca (subject: CSSIC%20Research%20Fellowship%20Inquiry) (cssic[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca)) with any questions or to request alternative formats of the Call for Applications and supporting materials. The CSSIC team is also available to meet with interested applicants.


Consult the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (updated regularly to reflect new questions and answers).


Register for and attend an informational webinar (dates and times to be confirmed). 

Fellowship Details

An overview of the opportunity, including high-level application details, objectives, eligibility guidelines, and project deliverables. More details about how to apply are available on the Application Instructions page


The College Student Success Innovation Centre (CSSIC) at Mohawk College invites emerging and established external scholars at Canadian postsecondary institutions whose research is positioned to promote college student success to apply for the CSSIC Research Fellowship.  

The goals of this fellowship are to identify and validate innovative student services and/or teaching approaches, methods, and practices that promote success for postsecondary students at Mohawk College and beyond; advance evidence-based research and practice in the college sector; and foster inter-institutional collaboration between Mohawk College and other postsecondary institutions. The resulting research findings and project outputs must be directly applicable to Mohawk College students and will be disseminated widely.  

This opportunity leverages CSSIC’s previous experience implementing student success interventions within research projects and replication studies in partnership with students (as co-researchers, leveraging the students-as-partners model [Cook-Sather, Bovill, & Felten, 2014; Healey, Flint, & Harrington, 2014; Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2017]), practitioners (faculty and student affairs professionals), and external researchers across North America, testing leading-edge practices in college contexts. 


The CSSIC Research Fellowship will provide up to $100,000 to support the direct costs of research for one or more 1- to 3-year projects.   

The successful fellow(s) will, in partnership with the CSSIC team, develop or modify, test, and evaluate a proposed student success intervention, which will be implemented with Mohawk College students. For the purpose of this call, a “student success intervention” refers to a student service or classroom-based intervention (i.e. an approach, method, practice, etc.) that is directly implemented with students in a curricular or extracurricular capacity (i.e. in or out of the classroom). Applicants are encouraged to review examples of CSSIC's previously implemented student success interventions, though this list is not intended to be a comprehensive representation of the types of interventions that may be considered for funding.  

A successful application will: 

  • Propose a pilot project involving the implementation of a student success intervention with the potential for future scaling and/or replication, designed to promote student success in response to an identified problem, challenge, limitation, or barrier 
  • Demonstrate the validity of the underlying assumptions (theoretical and/or evidence-based) of the proposed approach, method, or practice and their applicability to Mohawk College students 
  • Consider Mohawk College’s context and student population in its project design, ensuring findings and outcomes can be directly applied to existing practice and/or implemented with Mohawk College students 
  • Propose a methodology and knowledge mobilization plan that involves students as co-researchers  
  • Demonstrate capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented intervention and complete the proposed work within the proposed timeframe (i.e. ensure the methodology is appropriate and reasonable in scope) 
  • Detail a knowledge mobilization plan with tangible benefits for the Mohawk College community (students, staff, and faculty, as applicable) and dissemination opportunities relevant to the college sector and postsecondary educational contexts more broadly  
  • Align with Mohawk College priorities, as articulated in our current (2022-2025) strategic plan  
  • Align with the Tri-Agency Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, specifically in regard to “promoting the integration of equity, diversity and inclusion-related considerations in research design and practices” (Mohawk College is a signee of the Dimensions Charter and received a Foundation State designation through the Dimensions program in April 2023).  


While proposals can and should build on previous research activities, fellowship funds cannot be used to supplement an existing project/grant. The fellow(s) and CSSIC team may explore potential future extensions or expansions of the funded project(s), based on project results, but these considerations would exceed the scope of the CSSIC Research Fellowship. 

Eligibility Guidelines

Subject Matter 

Proposals should primarily emphasize how the proposed intervention is intended to promote student success and may be categorized within one or more of the following disciplines:  

  • Adult, higher, or postsecondary education 
  • Student affairs, student development, or student services 
  • Curriculum, assessment, or teaching and learning (e.g. online teaching and learning, experiential learning, supporting international learners, knowledge/skill development) 
  • Access, equity, diversity, and/or inclusion in postsecondary education 
  • Other disciplines/fields for which research insights can be directly applied to the college student experience with the aim of promoting student success. 


The proposed disciplinarity of this call is intentionally broad in scope. We welcome submissions across and between disciplines that creatively (re)imagine ways of addressing and promoting student success, reflective of increasingly multifaceted, emergent conceptions of student success. Student success is a broad category, which can be diversely defined. Mohawk College’s Student Success Policy Framework (2016) defines student success as “a process and an outcome. As a process, success is experienced as student engagement throughout the college experience. As an outcome, success is defined by each individual student as the achievement of their academic, personal or career goals during college.” 

Student success has been historically defined largely in terms of its end goals (i.e. persistence until graduation and the academic performance or achievement it requires, in addition to post-degree employment), assumed to be mutually endorsed by both postsecondary institutions and students. More recent studies have begun exploring student success from additional perspectives (e.g. student development, wellbeing, belonging) and centring student voices through qualitative, participatory research.  

The CSSIC is currently engaged in a mixed methods study, “Redefining Student Success: Centering Student Voices in the Definition and Measurement of Student Success,” to explore how Mohawk College students define and measure student success. In collaboration with multiple student co-researchers, we have engaged almost 1,000 student participants using virtual surveys, in-person constructive survey-interviews, and focus groups. Based on our preliminary findings, it is evident that Mohawk College students hold wide and varying definitions and measurements of student success. Preliminary themes include academic achievement, knowledge and skills development, career or post-graduation achievements, feelings and attitudes toward learning, and interpersonal connections. While many students spoke to extrinsic factors, such as institutional indicators (e.g. grades), they overwhelmingly positioned these elements in relation to more highly prioritized intrinsic or personal conceptualizations of student success and internally defined metrics/individualized goals. Students also shared insight into identities, barriers/challenges, and life circumstances that shape their notions of student success, such as mental health, disability, caregiving, work-school balance, reskilling, and learning as an international student/living as a newcomer.  



The awarded fellowship(s) will be held by an individual researcher(s) with the following qualifications:  

  • PhD or EdD, with evidence of having undertaken research in one of the identified disciplines (evidence of having successfully led and completed a funded research project will be considered favourably) 
  • Full-time or multi-year appointment (for the duration of the proposed project/funding period) at a Canadian postsecondary institution that holds Tri-Agency institutional eligibility; the ability to lead/supervise a research project; and associated paid/allocated time for research. Eligible appointments include tenured and tenure-track faculty positions, limited-term appointments, postdoctoral fellowships, and other faculty and staff positions with compensated time to conduct research.  


Applicants may submit only one application per call. Both emerging and established scholars are eligible to apply. In addition to providing their CV, it is incumbent upon all applicants to explain how their particular expertise and experience position them to succeed within the proposed fellowship framework. 

Mohawk College is strongly committed to diversity within its community. We welcome applications from racialized persons, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, 2SLGBTQIA+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. 

Deliverables and Commitments

Fellow Commitments and Project Deliverables

To ensure a timely and successful implementation, the fellow(s) will be expected to 

  • Collaborate with the CSSIC team (staff, faculty, and student co-researchers), including participating in regular meetings (frequency to be determined collaboratively in alignment with project needs)
  • Complete all data analysis (directly and/or with the help of research assistants)
  • Submit annual financial reports and a final project report. Formal requirements and templates to be communicated upon selection of successful applicant.


The majority of project collaboration is anticipated to occur remotely in recognition of likely geographical and scheduling limitations. Mohawk College will cover travel and subsistence expenses associated with one preliminary on-campus visit over and above the fellowship funding. Applicants can also budget for additional travel related to research and/or knowledge mobilization activities, informed by the expense guidelines outlined below.

The CSSIC Research Fellowship is intended to facilitate meaningful knowledge exchange and mobilization opportunities throughout its duration. Mohawk College and the CSSIC are excited for the successful fellow(s) to share more about their research and its potential applications with the Mohawk College community. With this in mind, while the fellow(s) and the CSSIC team may explore additional knowledge dissemination and mobilization activities, the following are considered minimum required commitments and should be detailed within the proposal and activity schedule/work plan:

  • Facilitation of practitioner engagement and/or professional development opportunities (relevant to the focus of the funded project) with Mohawk College students, staff, and faculty (as applicable)
  • Consistent with the visiting scholar model, the fellow(s) will be expected to share their expertise and/or insights from the proposed project to support Mohawk College students, faculty, and staff. Examples include targeted lectures, professional development workshops, and/or the facilitation of working or discussion groups. These activities should be detailed in the proposal. 
  • Facilitation or co-facilitation of at least three research presentations:
    • One brief introductory video describing the research and theory/evidence supporting the proposed project/intervention (to be shared on the CSSIC website)
    • One internal conference presentation (e.g. as part of Mohawk College’s Great Ideas for Teaching or Inspiring Minds conferences)
    • One external conference presentation, within Canada, to a recognized higher education organization or other body as appropriate
  • Co-authorship of at least two publications, including:
    • One scholarly publication (e.g. open-access, peer-reviewed journal article; the fellow will serve as primary author)
    • One practical publication (e.g. practitioner resource)

Mohawk College Commitments

The CSSIC Research Fellowship is intended to be of mutual benefit to both Mohawk College and the incumbent fellow(s). As a project collaborator, the College and the CSSIC commit to support the successful project(s) in the following ways:

  • Provision of Mohawk College credentials and access to required platforms and secure data storage
  • Support from Mohawk College’s Institutional Research and Data Analytics department to access and prepare relevant student data and/or support the surveying of students (as needed)
  • Support from the CSSIC team with the following activities:
    • Fellow onboarding
    • Research ethics applications and amendments
    • Recruitment (of participants, student co-researchers, Mohawk College personnel, etc.)
    • Project coordination and implementation, including overseeing/supporting data collection activities and involvement of service or academic areas (as needed)
    • Consultation on data analysis activities
    • Promotion and coordination of engagement/professional development opportunities facilitated by the fellow
    • Research dissemination and knowledge mobilization activities.

Context Details

Information about the Ontario College sector, Mohawk College, and the CSSIC.

About the Ontario College Sector

Ontario has 24 publicly funded colleges known as the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT). The Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act (2002) established the role of colleges as offering “career-oriented, postsecondary education and training to assist individuals in finding and keeping employment, to meet the needs of employers and the changing work environment, and to support the economic and social development of their local and diverse communities” (the Act also authorized colleges to conduct applied research). With a clear focus on employment, 85% of recent college graduates find employment within 6 months of graduation (Ontario Colleges, 2022), exiting with a variety of credentials including one-year certificates, two and three-year diplomas, graduate certificates, three and four-year degrees, and apprenticeships. Colleges also offer a variety of academic upgrading courses through micro-credentials and continuing education courses. Smaller class sizes, “explorer-friendly” pathways for students with undecided career paths, lower tuition fees, and a unique blend of practical skills training and academic learning has contributed to over 270,000 students attending college each year (Government of Ontario, 2023)—a number that has steadily grown since 2012. 

About Mohawk College

Established in 1967, Mohawk College educates and serves more than 32,500 full-time, part-time, and apprenticeship students (domestic and international) at 4 main campuses in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, a partner campus in Mississauga, learning hubs across Hamilton through City School by Mohawk College, and 6 satellite partner locations serving the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) and Indigenous communities. Mohawk College is fully accredited and partially funded by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and is a member of the Association of Community Colleges of Canada. With a mission to “educate and prepare highly skilled graduates for success and contribution to community, Canada, and the world,” Mohawk College offers a wide selection of over 150 certificate, diploma, graduate certificate, degree, apprenticeship, and continuing education programs in business, community services, creative industries, health, preparatory studies, technology, and the skilled trades.  

Among Mohawk College’s demonstrated strengths are expanding access to postsecondary education; embedding the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion into its policies, practices and culture; providing students with in-demand skills to help achieve a sustainable and productive labour market and ensure graduates are ready for the workforce (including through our Future Ready Premium Program); and engaging with industry, employers and apprentices to promote apprenticeship as a career path and increase opportunities for apprentices in Hamilton. These and other aspirations are reflected in our current (2022-2025) strategic plan

Mohawk College employs robust data collection activities, including internally managed postsecondary enrolment data and the administration of a Student Entrance Survey (SES). In the 2021-2022 academic year 

  • 76% of students were domestic, with 51% from the Hamilton area  
  • 33% were the first in their family to attend postsecondary   
  • 33% had previous postsecondary education 
  • 24% were international, coming from 98 countries outside of Canada   
  • 24% were direct entry from high school, while the largest proportion of students (37%) were aged 22 to 29   
  • 23% identified as a Person of Colour or a Racialized person 
  • 17% identified as not being straight/heterosexual  
  • 15% identified as a person with a physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability  
  • 5% of identified as an Aboriginal/Indigenous person. 


Mohawk College’s data-informed understanding of our student population helps ensure we can identify and responsively support our students’ unique needs. Based on data collected through provincial college Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and internal surveys, in the 2021-2022 academic year 

  • Mohawk College’s graduation rate across all programs was 65%, which ranked third among GTHA colleges 
  • 84.5% of Mohawk College students found employment within 6 months of graduation 
  • Approximately 98% of Mohawk College programs offered relevant experiential learning, approximately 3,000 co-op work terms per year  
  • More than half of Mohawk College students relied on student financial assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)  
  • The top 5 supports students sought were financial assistance (45%), career advisement (38%), time management/organizational strategies (36%), ways to interact with peers outside of class (32%), and access to mental health and counselling (30%)  
  • Mohawk College had high uptake for student services, including career services (50%), accessible learning services (43%), counselling services (30%), Social Inc. (19%), and Indigenous student services (14%).   

About the College Student Success Innovation Centre

In 2022, Mohawk College ranked 12th in Canada (4th in research partnerships), and 5th in Ontario, in the Research Infosource annual ranking. With research embedded in our current (2022-2025) strategic plan, we seek to “expand the impact of our research activities in an environment that fosters scholarly collaborations and creativity, and innovation, and that embraces inclusion and diversity.”  

One of Mohawk College’s key research areas is student success and social innovation. Student success has long been a pillar of our institution. Starting in 2012 with the publication of our Student Success Plan and continuing through to the recent creation of a new Policy Framework for Student Success, student success has remained a strategic priority for the college for over a decade. Our student success research efforts began in earnest in 2015 when Mohawk College researcher-practitioners secured funding from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) to partner with external scholars and data analysts to engage in research investigating the efficacy of predictive modelling, proactive advising, psychological attunement of student communications, goal-setting, and different methods of assessing students’ skill development.  

Building on this initial work, in 2018, with a $650,000 investment from the province, Mohawk College established the College Student Success Innovation Centre (CSSIC), Canada’s first innovation centre on a college campus uniquely focused on community college student success. Our vision was to lead the province in the design, implementation, and evaluation of innovative interventions throughout the student lifecycle that improve student success by replicating previous studies, building capacity at other Ontario colleges, and sharing our learning broadly. The Centre earned national recognition for this innovative work, receiving the CACUSS Innovation Award in 2019.  

With 10 distinct funded research projects in our portfolio, supported by funding from HEQCO, Employment and Social Development Canada, the Future Skills Centre, and the Tri-Agency, CSSIC’s core research team—currently comprised of a Director; Professor, Learning Outcomes Assessment Consultant (faculty); Coordinator, Research and Special Projects (support staff); and Student Success Project Ambassador (student co-researcher)—has significant experience testing and evaluating practical interventions designed to improve student success outcomes and collaborating with a wide range of partners, both internal and external. The Centre has implemented and supported more than $5 million in funded research projects with over 20 postsecondary, industry, and community partners across North America, facilitating over 70 workshops and presentations and publishing over 20 practical resources and research reports. The CSSIC is excited to build on past strengths and explore new opportunities and partnerships with the official launch of the CSSIC Research Fellowship.