Annual Scope of Learning Assistance (Part Three)

The following is an excerpt from my book, Learning Assistance at the Crossroads.  More information about obtaining a copy of the book is provided in the upper left-hand column.  It may already be in your school library.

About 30 percent of first-time, first-year students enrolled in one or more developmental reading, writing, or mathematics courses since the 1980s. This rate rises to 40 percent of students who are the first in their family to attend col­lege (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003, 2005). For the past two decades, 600,000 to 700,000 first-year students enrolled annually in such courses. As a result of the research protocols used by the federal government for these stud­ies, the data do not include sophomores, juniors, seniors, or graduate students who enroll in remedial or developmental courses; students who participate in noncredit academic enrichment activities such as tutoring, group study review groups, learning strategy workshops, or similar activities; and students of any clas­sification who enroll in remedial or developmental courses in science or study strategies. Therefore, it is reasonable to estimate the number of students access­ing credit and noncredit services at 2 million annually (Boylan, 1999).

The following finding comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s study focusing primarily on developmental courses (National Center for Edu­cation Statistics, 2003). Of students enrolling in these courses, three-quarters successfully complete them. Most students enroll in developmental courses during only one academic term. Students are twice as likely to enroll in the courses at two-year institutions than in four-year colleges and universities. About three-quarters of institutions offer only institutional credit for the courses, while others offer graduation credit. In these cases, the credit counts as a free elective. About three-quarters of institutions require students to enroll in remedial or developmental courses based on their entry-level test scores. This percentage has increased during the 1990s. About two-thirds of institutions restrict concurrent enrollment in graduation-credit courses and developmen­tal courses. Nearly a quarter of institutions establish a time limit for success­fully completing these courses. A traditional academic unit such as the English or mathematics department is the most frequent provider of developmental courses, with a separate developmental department following in frequency. Learning centers are less frequently used, though the percentage has grown.