Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring student experiences in developmental education at a four year higher education institution
by Hardee, Tara, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2013, 216; 3585005
Abstract (Summary)

In the United States, the most commonly used method for developing an incoming freshman's math and English skills is through remedial education courses. Depending on the 4 year institution and the student's level of need, these remedial courses will be taught in conjunction with varying other forms of support programs, such as supplemental instruction, mandatory tutoring, and advising sessions. Once a student has taken a placement test to assess that level of need, he or she will then enter into college participating in developmental education. The purpose of this study was to explore student experiences participating in developmental education during their first year in college. This study gives voice to developmental education students' perceptions of their experiences in the first year, provides insight into how non-cognitive variables may aid in student persistence through their developmental education coursework, and examines the importance of students experiencing validation during their developmental education program.

In this basic qualitative inquiry, interviews were used as a way to gain understanding into how students experience developmental education. The constant comparative method was employed as a way to gain deeper insight and meaning into each participant's shared experiences. The study sample contained 14 (12 female and two male) students who had participated in three developmental education courses in their first year at Barkley University (pseudonym), a large 4-year public university in Southern California. Additional criteria for participants were that they must have completed all of the developmental education courses with a Cor better, and enrolled in courses at Barkley University for their second year. Since participants required three developmental education courses in their first year, they were subsequently part of the Sun Learning Community (SLC; pseudonym), a mandatory community that required participants to take their courses in a cohort model, participate in advising, supplemental instruction, and were provided with extra tutoring services.

Five themes emerged from the data regarding how students experience their first year participating in developmental education coursework: (a) Reflection, (b) Connection, (c) Before, (d) During, and (e) After. These themes were influenced by Laura Rendón's validation theory, along with William Sedlacek's concept of non-cognitive variables. Implications for developing a conceptual understanding of the relationship between validation and specific non-cognitive variables and what this relationship may mean for students who participate in several developmental education courses are also highlighted. Recommendation are given to faculty members, advisors, and higher education administration with the goal of encouraging these stakeholders to understand the complexities of being a first year college student who participates in several developmental education courses and to understand how students may feel about membership to a learning community. This understanding would lead to an awareness of how various constituencies' behavior could influence a student's ability to successfully pass all coursework and persist to the next year.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Locks, Angela
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School counseling, Higher education
Keywords: Developmental education, First-year experience, Learning communities, Remediation
Publication Number: 3585005
ISBN: 978-1-303-76554-4
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