Developmental Education in the Two-Year College
Developmental education is essentially the study of student’s academic success at the post-secondary level. Specifically, most researchers, administrators, and faculty involved in the process are focused on those who are in their first few years of higher learning because there are many shortfalls in preparing students academically for the conditions around the college classroom. Usually developmental coursework is focused on just a few critical areas – developmental math, and basic reading and writing. However, there have been many advancements to the field which include areas of study skills, cognition, tutoring, educational framework, and supplemental instruction (Texas State University – San Marcos, 2012).
From a quantitative viewpoint nearly 60 percent of all college students take a development course at some point – usually in their first semesters. Researchers consider this a cause for concern because traditionally many students are matriculating directly from the K – 12 system where in theory they should be prepared for college-level coursework. However, the contrary exists. Only a quarter of all students who take part in remediation coursework go on to receive any type of conferred degree within an eight year period. In comparison, those who enroll in college without the need for development course work are almost twice as likely to receive a degree in the same time period (Bailey & Cho, 2011).
Currently, community colleges serve a large and diverse population of students. Over six million students are enrolled in two-year college systems across America. Based on the data, these students are also at a great risk for never completing any tangible degree from a granting-institution. Aside from this figure, other themes have manifested from the study of developmental education (American Association of Community Colleges, 2013).
Evaluation of Development Education
One of the primary concerns involving student remediation is the lack of consensus from states, K – 16 education, and politicians. Currently, there exists no unified understanding of the limits and terms of what constitutes a student’s need for developmental education. Many states and districts have their own idea of what they consider a student who is “college-ready” however, that definition may be outdated, or drastically different from other descriptions. In turn, this can make the process of defining success and failure very difficult for any semblance of national change (Bailey & Cho, 2011).
Another barrier in the evaluation of developmental education is meeting students at their exact need level. Due to a lack of resources or understanding of a college’s student base, there may be an ineffective developmental program in place. The K – 12 transition is only one issue causing low persistence rates in higher education. Many students may need special accommodations, language barriers may exists for non-native learners, or the lack of any formal education compounded by years of neglected learning may leave new college entrants at a level too low for even the remediation process (Bailey & Cho, 2011).
There also exists a misnomer that correlation implies causality - the idea that the reason students fail is because of the lack of utility from their developmental coursework. However, this unmasks another significant understanding. Students who enroll in remedial classes may be predisposed due to factors far outside of the realm of academia. For example, they may have work, family, or other responsibilities which create an enormous conflict with their ability to study and retain the information they learn in class. Based on this assumption, community college retention rates cannot be looked at from a perfunctory viewpoint. Instead, there is a need for a greater understanding of the environmental factors associated with developmental education (Levine-Brown, Goosen, Neuburger, 2013).
American Association of Community College. (2013). Community college enrollment.
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Bailey, J. & Cho, S. W. (2011). Developmental education in community colleges.
Community College Research Center . Retrieved June 24, 2013 from
Levine-Brown, P., Goosen, R., Neuburger, J. (2013). Important information on current
issues in developmental education. National Association For Developmental Education .
Retrieved June 24, 2013 from http://www.nade.net/
Texas State University – San Marcos. (2012). What is developmental education?
Retrieved June 24, 2013 from http://www.education.txstate.edu/ci/dev-ed-doc