Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Community College Student Experience in Developmental Education
by Johnson, Julie J., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2012, 212; 3523433
Abstract (Summary)

Developmental education is a primary tool of access to higher education, particularly at the community college level, for students who are not academically prepared. There is a high need for remediation of community college students, yet a low remedial course completion rate. While there is broad awareness of the problem of remediation and its implications for students, colleges, and the nation, the student perspective of this experience is not well understood.

The aim of this qualitative research was to understand the community college student experience in developmental education. The study employed a hermeneutic method based on Nakkula and Ravitch's (1998) applied model, which connects theory, research, and practice. The conceptual framework was grounded in theory on student engagement, aspiration, and self-concept and was later expanded using Nakkula and Ravitch's (1998) filter of world, connectedness, interpretation, and time. The scope of the study focused on eight students at the public community college in Washington, DC, with the primary data source being student interviews.

Findings revealed that students were more inclined to persist through developmental courses rather than resist the process of remediation. They brought with them strong motivation, aspirations, and self-concept. Findings included three external factors in the experience: structural, relational, and contextual. Structural factors related to the direct student experience with the placement test, the developmental placement, and the developmental courses. Relational factors examined the impact of faculty, students, family, friends, and mentors. Contextual factors included family level of education, K-12 education, prior college experience, urban environment, and life experience. Supports and obstacles also played a role in this experience and included the student success course, tutoring, student services, activities, environment, and time and money. The final finding focused on the students missing from the study—those who had dropped out and resisted the remedial system.

Implications point to many areas of significance, namely that understanding the student experience is necessary to address the problem of remediation. Recommendations suggest improvements to the placement test, developmental course offerings, student supports, and faculty development. Recommendations for policymakers and next steps for researchers are also provided.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wright, Travis S.
Commitee: Gomez, Joel, Howard, Lionel C., Johnson, Jason, Tardd, Anthony
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Community college education
Keywords: Community college, Developmental education, Hermeneutics, Remediation, Student experience
Publication Number: 3523433
ISBN: 978-1-267-56418-4
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