Development Reading Course is a study area at college level that is designed to improve the reading skills of students, to the standard required by the college, for course work (Valeri-Gold & Deming, 2008). It is designed to assist students achieve academic success by improving their skills in three high education level course work (Smittle, 1995). Students in colleges’ nation wide must demonstrate or show case, college readiness skills in three areas; Development Reading I, Development Reading II and composition and Basic Writing. The institution of higher learning measures the ability of a student, by their performance in the placement tests in writing, reading and mathematics (Bettinger & Long, 2005).
The institutions of higher learning have in the past had continued debates, concerning the development education and its value to students (Batzer, 1997). The Wellesley College in Massachusetts, in 1884, offered to the freshman who they felt were in need of increased academic college preparation (Campbell & Blakey, 1996), the first specific development education student course. Therefore making the concept of development education in existence in the United States, since 1600’s
Development Reading Programs led to the improvement of Quality Point Average (QPA) and persistence in colleges. Although a meta-analysis was conducted by Boylan, Bonham, White and George (2000), from about 60 independent evaluations of development programs, and the results showed that developmental programs in community colleges had less productive effect on student’s achievement in areas of quality point average and persistence. They only raised scores by 0.09 points, almost having indistinguishable effects on the community college programs. For example, students who underwent the development English course made minimal gains, compared to a student who completed in the same college, a freshman English course.
Although there are other Institutions of Higher learning, that recorded success, to students that did the reading courses. Portland Community has claimed 71% success rate, Botello (2000) in his findings at A & M University in Texas, found high grades, good retention rates and more credit hours, for students who studied effectiveness of the reading and study skills course.
The effectiveness of the developmental reading course to student achievement in the regular curriculum has been difficult to demonstrate. Calagno (2007) have cautioned against over reliance on studies that are more than 10 years old, because curriculum and demographic changes have occurred. Other previous short-term analysis in 2006, indicate that in developmental reading course, students are unlikely to persist, transfer or complete baccalaureate degree.
Interested parties in the field, like professionals, are evaluating the programs, by demonstrating understanding that, for the programs to improve, they must find out what is being done well and what is not working, and eliminate what is not working for the students (Merisotis & Phipps, 2000). Research has demonstrated that, tutoring and academic advising are being provided now for the developmental students. Professionals in the field have come to the realization, of the need for students to be assisted outside mandatory class time (Brown & Niemi, 2007). The positive thing about the assistance is that it also includes factors that are not academics related that students struggle with and at some point affect their general performance in class work (Crane, McKay & Poziemski, 2002). This helps the students become aware of the factors hindering their academic success, and also creates need for improvement (Perin, Keselman & Monopoli, 2005). Therefore, the utilization of mandatory placement, program evaluation and support services, has increased developmental reading programs at the community Colleges.
In the past, there existed absolutely no data on the effectiveness of development reading courses, at the community college (Grubb, 2000). This created disagreements within faculties and therefore contributing to the need of data so that proper analysis was done. A good example is, a certain psychology faculty felt that the cut-off scores for the reading programs were too high, which made the criteria of being admitted directly into course work extremely high and this contributed to students being unfairly placed in the development reading courses, and they would have succeeded at the college level (Napoli & Wortman, 1995). A scholar known as William Perry did state that it was not the mechanism of reading, but the appropriate strategies in studying that would have made a difference in student achievements (Perin, 2006).
The reading courses serve many purposes; therefore it is difficult to universalize the measure of their effectiveness. Records support developmental courses efficiency from an institution perspective. If the institution provides class-based instruction rather than individual based, it reduces the expenses, because these courses actually bring in income from the students or grants given by the government. And that is why Boylan (2002) concluded that developmental courses have made many community colleges as profit centers.
From an institution perspective courses for analytical, critical college level reading may be considered efficient. In this particular case efficiency depends on benefits (student learning produced, student retained and fees charged) and cost (which vary from instructor’s salary, size of the student taking the class and other related demands from the class and instructors). The effectiveness of the course will be determined by how it has increased the learning of engaged students and if there has been any retention of the students, and these will set the cost to the institution.
In 2003 Cox, Freisner and Khuyum identified about 2000 students who had low reading scores, and were advised to take a reading course out of the three reading courses. (0- credit remedial; 1- credit course paired with economics; 3-credit developmental) that was based on scores. Regression analysis revealed that the students, who took any reading skills and passed in them, had higher grades point and earned more credit hours than those who did not take the classes.
Santa Fe community college in Florida, come to the conclusion that students in developmental reading courses, pass subsequent courses, but the same percentage of students that did not mandate the developmental reading courses, pass subsequent courses. Tyre & Smittle (1998).
Sawyer and Scheil (2000) came up with a statistical method, which post-test students in an alternate form of assigning them to remediation. This was going to determine if developmental courses succeed in tutoring the required cognitive skills. Other assessments are needed to determine the effectiveness of the methods used in the program, to determine placement to developmental courses and assess its effectiveness (Gray-Barnett, 2001).
Calcagno (2007) did a follow up with a state-wide study, in the state of Florida. He used a quesi-experimental method, which compared outcomes of students who were scoring just above and just below the cut-off score, for the developmental coursework and the long-term and short-term impact, in the state of Florida. He did his experiment to two populations of students who failed the test by a point or two. He reasoned that the groups would be nearly identical, especially if the testing error is factored in. Calcagno made findings that reflected to the effect that, developmental course work in the first year of college, had positive results in enrolling students to the next full semester, but had no success in their completion of associate degrees, success in their college level courses, or transfer to a four year college. That is Developmental reading courses students did not show benefit over those with the same profile and were not placed in the course.
The same experiment done in Texas by Mortorell and Mcfarlin (2007), showed slight improvement on grades in first college level math’s courses (for student doing developmental math) slight negative effects on credit attempted, and zero benefits from remediation.
An ex post facto study has been conducted to examine developmental courses and its effect on student’s achievement. The mean of students GPA were compared in developmental courses, math and English before the Title V changes and after. An Evaluation of student achievement was carried out basing it on ethnicity, gender, social economic level and age.
The results of the study showed that students were able to score high GPA’s in hybrid math course format and accelerated format than computer instruction method. The math course accelerated format resulted to high GPA’s than hybrid course across ethnic lines and social economic level. The courses that were paired had a negative effect to the students GPA scores than the courses that were not paired.
Students who went through mandatory tutoring had a division of effects that were according to gender, this is because the male students showed improvement in their GPA’s, but the female students reflected no improvement or even a lower GPA.
The instructional changes were introduced to the developmental education and this brought about the improvement in developmental courses, where students scored higher GPA’s, but these changes did not improve their achievement in the college level. However the male students at the college level math course did reflect some improvement, but all the other courses, whether mandatory or not, showed absolutely no improvement in the students GPA’s in college (Hagedorn et al, 2002).
Recommendations were made from this study concerning persistence of students, even though persistence was not examined. The developmental course post Title V changes did not show any improvement in the students GPA’s for the college-level course work, but there is a likely hood that it impacted the students to complete the college-level degree or certificate, and the low GPA’s results could have been due to the attrition of unprepared students (Castator & Tollefson, 1996).
The Reading Study Group (RAND, 2002) did identify three elements in reading any comprehension; the text, the reader and the activity. And all these elements are embedded in a social-cultural context. The purpose of reading for an individual is linked to the type of reading, (developmental, functional, for study or recreation) and this does influence the nature and occurrence of the reading process (Darkenwald & Novak, 1997).
Research in reading has begun to take in to consideration these interactive factors, although practical and theoretical groundwork has to be established (Maaka & Ward, 2000). In this information-processing age, one fact stand that the ability to read is an essential life skill (Crews & Aragon, 2007).
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