Results of Community College Survey of Student Engagement: Importance of Developmental Education

This story about the importance of Developmental Education comes from the Institutional Research and Planning department:

Ensuring that students are academically prepared for college upon leaving high school is a difficult task. At GRCC, we know the consequences of being under-prepared for college. National research indicates that less than half of high school students graduate with the skills they need to be successful in college. Community colleges like ours, moreover, serve large numbers of older students who may need refresher courses (or additional training) and immigrant students who may need English language instruction or other types of special support. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that significant numbers of our students may need some level of developmental education. However, with strong developmental education programs, incoming college students can quickly be put on the path to academic success.

The following table shows the extent to which GRCC students report taking or planning to take developmental courses (called Academic Foundations Courses at GRCC). These results are from the 2009 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) administered to a random sample of 1100 GRCC credit students last March.

Which of the following have you done, are you doing, or do you plan to do while attending GRCC? Have Taken Plan to Take
Take a  developmental reading course 11% 11%
Take a developmental math course 24% 14%
Take a developmental writing course 20% 13%
Take a study skills course 16% 10%

Responses from the full CCSSE population show that GRCC students are less likely to take these courses than their counterparts across the nation:

  • 27% have taken or plan to take developmental reading.
  • 33% have taken or plan to take developmental writing.
  • 46% have taken or plan to take developmental math.
  • 33% have taken or plan to take study skills.

Students who took EN 097 in the Fall of 2008 went on to succeed in EN 100 or 101 at a higher rate than students who directly enrolled in these courses. In Mathematics, students who took MA 003 in Fall 2008 and went on to take MA 104 in Winter 09 succeeded at the same level as students who directly enrolled in MA 104. Students who are at risk or unprepared for college have a higher chance of success when they receive learning assistance integrated with the content.

Quote from a CAP student, “Overall a challenging curriculum, which is a good thing because I am going to need to understand and comprehend in my other classes.  I feel more prepared to further my education.”

The whole notion of what Development Education is that the study of content must be coupled with integrated support for the student. The contemporary view of developmental education is guided by adult development and learning theory that says we need to attend to the developmental need of students as well as the needs dictated by the content.  In GRCC’s Career Advancement Program (CAP), we have found that faculty using empowerment strategies and learner-centered structures have success rates of 85% for their students, a 17% higher success rate than the 68% success rate that is typical for GRCC classes.

“We have to help underprepared students develop the skills and habits necessary for success in higher education by recognizing that learning includes both cognitive and affective development.  Without recognizing that fact, access and opportunity are meaningless” says, Cindy Martin, Associate Dean over the Academic Foundations Program.

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