Mainstreaming best practices of learning assistance and developmental education within first-year courses

Isolated and prerequisite remedial and developmental level courses are on the chopping block. FOr good or bad, the national dialogue argues for their relegation to community colleges and prohibition at four-year institutions. How are needs met for students who still some of the outcomes from such courses? Embedding the best elements into rigorous, first-year courses is a solution. Doing so benefits all students within the courses since all will experience turbulence within the curriculum. Following is an article that describes changes forecast a decade ago.

Damashek, R. (1999). Reflections on the future of developmental education, Part II. Journal of Developmental Education, 23(2), 18-20, 22. Retrieved July 4, 2004 from: reflections.htm

Interviews were conducted with a number of leaders within developmental education: David Arendale, Hunter Boylan, Kaylene Gebert, Martha Maxwell, Santiago Silva, and Diana Vukovich. The dialogue points to several emerging trends: (a) mainstreaming, (b) removal of developmental education from 4-year institutions, and c) increased professionalism of developmental educators. Mainstreaming developmental education courses into college-level, graduation-credit programs of study fits into the paradigm of learning assistance and enrichment for all students. The participants in the discussion were unanimous in proposing a comprehensive academic support program that would include elements such as a learning center, adjunct or paired courses, Supplemental Instruction, tutoring, student assessment, and program evaluation. Boylan advocates funds for professional development and Gebert proposes faculty, student, and staff recognition whereas Silva includes academic advising, counseling, career services, mentoring, and especially faculty training in his list of important program components. Arendale and Vukovich propose a complete paradigm shift away from the medical model to learning support for all students. By deferring to Maxwell’s (1997) latest book Improving Student Learning, Vukovich gives Maxwell credit for providing insight into best practices based on years of experience and the best research resulting in the recommendation of a comprehensive learning assistance model. the value of such a model is that it is more easily integrated into the academic process because it is understood as service for all students. This model is not burdened by the stigma of serving only the least able students, who, for many academic, administrative, and political leaders, are seen as a drain on the institution’s academic standards.