Influences of an integrated teaching model and selected background characteristics on developmental studies student achievement in a community college

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Virginia Tech

It has been established that prior academic achievement influences persistence in college and that poorly prepared students are less likely to persist. The effect of counseling on underprepared students was investigated because this form of active involvement was considered a key element in the retention of developmental studies students in open-access community colleges. Since standard instructional efforts to remedy basic skill deficiencies have yielded inconsistent results, an integrated teaching model was introduced. It was believed that the academic challenges experienced by basic writing students could be moderated by structured counseling support available in the classroom throughout the transition to college composition.

This research investigated the relationship between successful completion of a developmental writing course and student GPA in college composition. Since students in both treatments were considered to be lacking prerequisite skills for college composition, a median computed from placement test scores was used to categorize levels of underpreparedness. The subjects were 118 students enrolled in developmental English courses. The typical student was a young, white, male, enrolled for the first time at his local community college. After placement testing he was considered moderately underprepared for college composition.

The relationship between basic writing treatment sections and grades, and between levels of underpreparedness and grades were analyzed using three Chi-Square tests of independence. These data revealed no significant relationship between grades in English 001 and teaching models, or levels of underpreparedness. It was noteworthy that 75% of the basic writing students from either treatment were successful in English 001 reflecting the overall quality of developmental instruction. Of the students categorized extremely underprepared, 69% succeeded, compared to 79% of the moderately underprepared students. This non-significant finding might suggest a need to reconsider placement test categories.

Of 118 students, 89 were prepared to enter English 111 but only 71 registered for the course. A Chi-Square test of independence comparing English 001 teaching models and future enrollment in English 111 showed that there was not enough evidence to suggest that students were more likely to register because of the counselor’s influence in the classroom. A t-test comparing teaching models and future grades in English 111 revealed that the integrated teaching model did not significantly influence student GPA. In summary, 66% of the with counselor (WC) students versus 46% of the teacher-only (TO) students succeeded in developmental studies and persisted through registration for college composition. Despite the absence of a statistically significant finding, community college counselors might consider more classroom-based roles if these activities can help strengthen the visibility and image of student development services.