Validating Skills for Success

Research at Bow Valley College is growing and evolving tremendously. The key areas we focus on currently are educational technology, social innovation, entertainment arts, and health and health technology. 

The Applied Research Team, led by Tanya McDonald, Dean, Applied Research and Centre for Entertainment Arts, aims to raise awareness, boost research activities, and highlight the results of research led by Bow Valley College employees and students.

Did you know that Bow Valley College has been involved in applied research for many years?

One of our prime success stories is TOWES – the Test of Workplace Essential Skills - which was initially developed as an applied research project in 1998. Through linking to the International Adult Literacy Skills Survey results, TOWES became a commercialized assessment and remains a nationally recognized valid and reliable tool to measure foundational literacy skills. TOWES is managed by the Workforce Preparation team, within the School of Foundational Learning, with users across Canada.

Skills for Success Validation Study  – what is it?

After TOWES' long history of success, the Workforce Preparation team—led by Krista Medhurst, Associate Dean—received $3.8M from Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC)  Skills for Success program to lead an exciting initiative to validate a new foundational skills model. The Skills for Success Validation Study is a 3.5-year project that began in 2021 , aimed at supporting the national adoption of and transition to a new model through validated applied research.  The project developed new foundational skills evaluations and training modules using TOWES experience, expertise, and data to help learners, clients, and employees in various contexts demonstrate and acquire the skills they need for success.

The Project Management Office, ITS, and Applied Research teams at the college have helped secure, deploy, and integrate technologies to meet the project's unique needs and ensure it continues to align with applied research design, methodology, ethics, and data collection.

Project Status and Partners

The project has been fortunate to collaborate with leading partners in this field across Canada, including Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Centre de recherche et d'expertise en multilittératie des adultes, VStrategies, Power Learning Solutions, and Dr. Theresa Kline.

Piloting is a critical next step to the validation process for establishing reliable research data and increasing national exposure of the new Skills for Success model, with a goal to reach 3,000 Canadian adults.

Lori Hall, Program Head of Career Enhancement Programs and Services at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, has commented, “As a long-time partner with Bow Valley, Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Career Enhancement Programs and Services' participation in the validation study is providing a valuable opportunity for both staff and students to embrace the transition to the Skills for Success framework as well as providing insight to a prospective online training tool which has been missing from the market for a few years.”

Some of the project’s recent achievements:

  • Expanded focus to other skill areas, including Writing and Digital Skills.
  • Establishing an online evaluation tool to offer another mode of assessment delivery.
  • Developing a suite of training resources for partners.
  • Building a unique instance of D2L to facilitate access to online asynchronous training.
  • Securing an online storefront application to support ecommerce and facilitate easy access for external users.
  • Obtaining access to an online e-gift card application to easily distribute participant honorariums.
  • Collaborating with the Applied Research team to incorporate collection opportunities to demonstrate skills improvement

For more information on the project and opportunities for Bow Valley College instructors and students to participate in the pilot, please visit and contact the project team at

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