Developmental English Program Assessment




Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes (PSLOs)


At the completion of the English Developmental Education Program, the student should:


  1. Demonstrate the skills necessary for the first transfer level courses in English and Math or for the English and Math competencies for the Certificate of Achievement.

  2. Think critically to construct meaning and solve problems.

  3. Read with comprehension.

  4. Communicate effectively both in writing and orally.

  5. Demonstrate the characteristics, habits, and attitudes of an effective learner.

PSLO Assessment Report Summary


What we looked at:

The purpose of holistic scoring is to assess the developmental education program.  The basic research question is: “To what extent are our students showing a proficiency in the writing skills that the developmental program is teaching?”  Particularly, the assessment explores the Developmental Education Student Learning Outcomes (SLO’s) #1 and #4: (1.) Demonstrate the skills necessary for the first transfer level courses in English and Math or for the English and Math competencies for the Certificate of Achievement,  (4.)  Communicate effectively both in writing and orally.


Assessing the extent to which students effectively achieve these abilities assists the department to make adjustments as necessary to the focus of our developmental education curriculum.


The process of investigation was as follows:

    • Copies of the argument/persuasive essays (essay 3 or 4) from 15 sections of English 90 were collected.  From the 322 collected, 169 essays were chosen using a random sampling formula.  This sampling resulted in a standard deviation of less than 0.5.
    • At the beginning of the scoring session, we discussed 5 papers that we had all read, rating them based on the scoring rubric. This allowed us to norm our expectations of low, medium, and high level work. 
    • During FLEX of August 2010, we scored all 169 using a rubric we created built upon the SLO’s we wanted to evaluate.  There were 10 instructors scoring the essays.
    • After scoring, faculty discussed the improvements and challenges evidenced by the essays.

What we found:

Quantitative Results:

    • 12% High, 44% Medium, 44% Low
    • The percentages reflected here were very similar to those of the holistic scoring from 2 years ago, and it seems that we have been getting fairly consistent quantitative results throughout our scoring history.

Qualitative Results:

    • Effort in organization and synthesis is improved. The students were making an effort to include clear thesis statements and topic sentences.  Whereas in past reading there has been the occasional essay which simply rambled, we did not see this during the Fall 2010 reading.
    • The Lows had a lot to do with a lack of clear logical organization, unity and coherence of paragraphs as well as grammar mistakes. Although students were putting forth a good-faith effort to included thesis statements, topic sentences, and supporting evidence, these essays showed that students had difficulty organizing their arguments from step to step and smoothly incorporating evidence and analysis that was meaningful and effective.
    • There is concern about the range of difficulty of instructors’ assignments. 

What we are planning to work on:

We are planning to have more frequent conversations among the instructors in order to discuss our expectations of students work and to help maintain a consistent standard of grading and level of difficulty as regards essay assignments.  We will continue to post helpful information on SharePoint (now InSite) as a way to help instructors gain access to helpful planning materials. Staff development and training sessions have been held to continually hone skills in teaching English 70 and 90.  The DE Leads will continue to provide suggestions and examples for modeling strong essays, thesis statements, and synthesis techniques as well as for creating thematic units.


Recommendations for students:

English students should begin taking their English courses soon after enrolling at LMC, if possible in their first semester since both English 70 and 90 help students make better use of campus resources as well as gain foundation skills in reading and writing which they can use in their other classes.  Students should meet with a counselor to discuss career goals and devise an Educational Plan early in their educational career at LMC so that students can complete classes with the achievement of those goals in mind. Also, students in English courses should always keep in mind the importance of attending class regularly and communicating with the instructor throughout the writing process when essays are assigned in order to get the needed assistance in improving their writing.