In Canada, in general – and in the Province of Ontario in particular – academics, employers, and government agencies are concerned with the low generic skill levels of university students and graduates. The assumption is that such deficiencies detract from academic and job success. Despite this concern, in Canada, research has not focused on potential links between objectively measured generic skills and grades recorded in administrative records. In view of this lacuna, the current research has two objectives. First, to assess the net effect of objectively measured generic skills on academic achievement as recorded in administrative records. Second, to determine the efficacy of an online course dedicated to the development of generic skills. Overall, I found that generic skills were better predictors of students’ achievement than high school grades used in admission processes; the relationship between high school grades and generic skill levels was weak; students’ generic skill levels did not improve over time; and an online course devoted to increasing students’ generic skills was effective in boosting skills to an acceptable level. Accordingly, if they are concerned with academic achievement, universities in Ontario and in other jurisdictions in which students are admitted to university primarily based on their secondary school grades might make the development of generic skills a priority; however, unless such skills are demanded across the curriculum, they will atrophy.
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