Developmental Education & Basic Skills Program

Student Support

In What Works: Research-Based Practices in Developmental Education, Hunter Boylan emphasizes the need to integrate academic and student services for students in developmental education. He states, “It is essential that all courses and support services connected with developmental education be viewed as a system rather than as random activities.” (p.28)

The intent to integrate instruction and support services and to assess these services for the purposes of better serving the developmental student is the focus of our program's Goal 2:

Effectively integrate instruction and academic support services: tutoring, labs, supplemental instruction, Reading and Writing Center, counseling services, assessment, and learning communities. Make recommendations based on systematic assessment of these services, and periodically report to the college community on their effectiveness.

Assessment and placement

Research: There is clearly a consensus in the field of developmental education that mandatory assessment and placement are key components of successful programs (Boylan, What Works, pgs. 35-37). In Basic Skills as a Foundationfor Student Success, mandatory orientation, assessment, and placement is effective practice B.1.

Our practice: LMC uses Accuplacer for math and English assessment and the LOEP (Levels of English Proficiency) for ESL assessment. Background questions embedded in the tests provide multiple measures that are used in determining placement or advisement. Cut-scores are validated using a consequential validity study in accordance with the Standards, Policies and Procedures for the Evaluation of Assessment Instruments Used in California Community Colleges.

With regard to mandatory placement, LMC comes closest to following effective practice in its English sequence and with Elementary Algebra, where prerequisites are keyed to assessment scores with multiple measures. For ESL and all other math courses, assessment scores are used in an advisory manner due to the controversy that surrounds setting prerequisites on our campus.

Integrated counseling

Research: Counseling support that is integrated into academic courses and programs is part of effective practice B.3 in Basic Skills as a Foundationfor Student Success . Studies cited in this literature review show that developmental education programs with integrated counseling and advising services have improved course success rates.

Our practice: The Counseling Partnership is a collaboration between counselors and instructors who teach English 70 (two-levels below 1A) and Math 12 (Prealgebra) with the goal of encouraging educational planning and persistence. Counselors make two in-class presentations, one at the beginning of the semester to introduce students to educational planning and other student support services and one at the end to answer questions about registration and encourage persistence. Instructors design assignments to reinforce the counseling presentation and require students to meet with a counselor to obtain an educational plan. Preliminary data shows a correlation between the Counseling Partnership and increased persistence. An LMC study completed in spring 2008 on the impact of educational plans on persistence concludes "results directionally indicate that students with educational plan[s] are more likely to enroll in the sequential course if they succeed in developmental education courses, and persist the following semester and for two consecutive semesters even if they are not successful in the class."

Interdisciplinary academic support services

Research: In Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Successeffective practice D.10 focuses on comprehensive academic support services. “Since most developmental students simultaneously enroll in transfer or occupational courses, learning assistance programs are particularly important for students’ ability to successfully move through their courses of study.” (p. 62) However, in the summary of the literature on academic support services, the authors emphasize that “when these services are created for the sole support of basic skills students or dedicated solely to the goal of remediation, they also suffer a kind of marginalization in the community college community. The effect, unfortunately, dissuades students form usage rather than encouraging it because the service is seen as a designation for failure or inadequacy.” (p. 63)

Our practice: The Reading and Writing Center (R&WC) provides reading and writing support to all students, staff and faculty. The R&WC is staffed by faculty consultants from different disciplines, a classified staff coordinator, and graduate interms, all of whom meet monthly for professional development and training. In the R&WC students work collaboratively with a consultant for a half hour appointment on reading and writing assignments from across the curriculum. A R&WC study of students enrolled in an ethnic studies course required for graduation showed that those who revised their papers based on consultant's feedback received higher grades on the final research paper. A recent analysis of the R&WC's usage showed that students who are in the developmental English sequence are not using the consulting services in the Center; additional analysis on usage by ethnicity does not show significant differences among ethnic groups.

Integrated labs

Research: In What Works: Research-Based Practices in Developmental Education, Boylan cites a variety of studies that support one of the major findings of the National Study of Developmental Education: “programs in which classrooms and laboratories are fully integrated had significantly higher pass rates in developmental courses than programs in which there was little integration.” (p. 64)

Our practice: With the exception of some of our arithmetic courses, all math courses at LMC have one or two hours of lab “by arrangement” as part of their design. The Math Lab is open six days a week and consists of a tutoring lab, a computer lab, quiet study areas, and a proctored testing area. During lab hours, students may work collaboratively with classmates on locally authored activities packets or individually on computer-based lab assignments. Individualized tutoring is provided by math faculty, a staff coordinator and a few advanced students. A recent study of math lab usage shows that developmental students account for roughly 75% of lab visits, with no significant differences in usage by ethnicity. Higher percentages of women use the lab than men.

Integrated peer tutoring

Research: In Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Successeffective practice D.10 includes peer tutoring and emphasizes the need for systematic tutor training and evaluation of tutoring services.

Our practice: Developmental English courses (English 60, 70 and 90), as well as arithmetic, prealgebra, and Elementary Algebra, have at least one in-class lab hour that is designated as time for personalized instruction. In these courses, with the exception of some of the arithmetic courses in which tutors are integral to the personalized mode of instruction, instructors may choose to have one or more tutors in-class during this hour or they may design other opportunities for students to receive individualized help, such as activities in the computer lab.

Tutor training is consistent with CRLA guidelines and evaluated by the tutors via a survey. Tutors who work in developmental math and English classes attend a 10-hour pre-semester training, conducted by a campus tutor coordinator, and enroll in a Human Services course, taught by English and math faculty, for on-going training throughout the semester. Both courses include material on tutoring techniques and Socratic questioning, study skills, cultural considerations, learning styles, learning disabilities, and some English or math content, such reading strategies from the Reading Apprenticeship.

In-class peer tutoring is evaluated through student and instructor perception of the tutor’s effectiveness, with specific survey questions keyed to each department’s tutoring goals.

*Starting Spring 2010, LMC will use a software system (CLASS) for course-level reports. This information, as well as program-level information, is now stored in LMC's intranet (lmcsharepoint). Please email us for information