Before you start, have you read my Disclaimer?
As I wrote previously, accelerated developmental coursework is all the rage in higher education right now. And I’m all for it. I’m for anything that will remove potential obstacles to student success. And as I said before, I think that pre-curriculum coursework can sometimes be an obstacle for our students.
With that said, I think it’s important that we don’t–as so many colleges seem to be doing–rush into this latest trend, abandoning entirely the “old way” of doing developmental education. Here’s why: developmental education is about more than remediation. Yes, it is our job to ensure that students have the academic foundation for college-level coursework, but it is also our job to prepare them in other ways for success in college. Make no mistake: success in college isn’t just about knowledge. If it were, smart students wouldn’t fail or drop out. But they do.
At least 15 years’ worth of research (and probably more) tells us that there are 4 keys to student success in college:
- Active involvement,
- Use of campus resources,
- Interpersonal interaction and collaboration, and
- Personal reflection and self-awareness.
Thus, accelerating developmental education by focusing on only students’ academic remediation actually does our students a grave disservice by underpreparing them for the college experience; it may well reduce or delay students’ chances for success.
And so I say, as responsible educators, we must tread lightly, taking care that, in our efforts to pave a smoother and shorter road, we don’t create more obstacles and actually lengthen the journey to success. In developmental education, we must maintain our focus on promoting the cognitive and affective growth of our students; we must continue to encourage intellectual, social, and emotional growth and development in our classes. We must continue to provide education that is all-inclusive, teaching holistically and addressing all the needs of our students, not just their academic weaknesses.
That is how we do our part to improve student success.