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Research Question Evaluation: Developmental Education What is developmental education? According to the National Association for Developmental Education (2010): “Developmental education programs and services commonly address academic preparedness, diagnostic assessment and placement, development of general and discipline-specific learning strategies, and affective barriers to learning. Developmental education includes, but is not limited to: all forms of learning assistance, such as tutoring, mentoring, and supplemental instruction personal, academic, and career counseling academic advisement coursework.” Nationwide developmental education program statistics in 2000: Number of Percent of institutions that offered degreeremedial courses in: granting Year and institutions Reading, institutional with writing, or type freshmen mathematics Reading Writing Mathematics 2000 All institutions Public 2-year Private 2-year Public 4-year Private 4-year


























Source: Institute for Education Sciences: National Center for Education Statistics. 2000. The cohort data used in the Greater Texas Foundation’s strategic plan shows that 13% of students enrolled in post secondary-education also enrolled in developmental education programs but did not complete a degree program within six years (THECB cohort data 1995). Russell (2008) reviews current trends and findings in the field that are consist with other research referenced in this memo. She argues that promising developmental education programs are flexible to student’s needs, are well designed and must be well support by State governments. She also highlights increased efforts to created alignment between secondary and post secondary educational institutions. (Policy brief titled “Enhancing

Ashton, Gesing and Wu


College Student Success Through Developmental Education.” Written for American Association of State Colleges and Universities.) Statistics on developmental education programs at institutions of higher education in Texas can be found at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website, as well as the Texas education Agency:; Other possible resources include Possible sources for information: Journal of Developmental Education (1996-Present) Research and Teaching in Developmental Education (Journal) (2003-Present) National Center for Developmental Education (Appalachian State University) Research in Developmental Education (Research-based publication of above Center) National Association for Developmental Education Benefits As with all of the potential topics, developmental education is extremely important to the field and has significant implications for the success of students and the educational system. In the benefits section, our focus moves beyond this surface level and focuses solely on the benefits of selecting developmental education as a research topic. Replication of previous research At least one previous study conducted could serve as a model for our work during the semester. A 1997 study conducted by Boylan et. al. for the Journal of Developmental Education examined student success at post secondary educational institutions related to the design of each developmental education system. This research model could be adapted for our use and focused on Texas institutions. Modeling a research methodology after this would also help us create a strong, defendable model. ( ml) Previous research on “best practices” Previous research on the topic has focused both on a national level and within Texas. Findings include: Coordinated, centralized programs are more successful Mandatory placement drives down retention rates and other success indicators, but it necessary for future success Need more focus on performance evaluation The Commission for a College Ready Texas examined many of the potential topics listed by the Greater Texas Foundation. The final report can be found here: df. This research would provide a solid basis to begin our project.

Ashton, Gesing and Wu


Broad Topic The proposed research questions include examining developmental education from two standpoints: improving the chances of students’ success in developmental education during post-secondary education or prior to enrolling (high school years). Our research could easily incorporate related topics like dual credit courses or other “best practices” program elements. This creates a lot of variability in what direction the project moves. Drawbacks Information Gathering Problems Our research into developmental education yielded somewhat shallow information in some regards. It was difficult to find stats/info about developmental education/programs beyond their existence. Texas specific stats may be even more challenging to collect. Additionally, the research questions posed by the Greater Texas Foundation also include an examination of how high school educational systems affect developmental education. Designing a research model that is sound and gives answers to these questions will be difficult. Client Preference Ordering According to the client topic briefing and discussion, developmental education falls last in the client’s preference ordering. While the representatives stated that any of the topics would be a good choice, they did prefer dual-credit and out-of-field teachers as focus areas to developmental education. Broad Topic A broad topic could also be difficult to approach. Due to the focus on both secondary and post-secondary education systems and the variability in possible outcomes, narrowing our focus and achieving significant work in a well-defined area could prove to be difficult. If we selected this topic, we would need to narrow our focus and set explicit boundaries.

Ashton, Gesing and Wu


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