Session Title: Symposium on the Future of Developmental Education

Panelists: David R. Arendale, Director, Center for Academic Development,
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Richard Damashek (moderator), Director of Learning Assistance, Calumet
College of St. Joseph, 2400 New York Avenue, Whiting, IN 46394, 219 473-4273
(w) 847 381-5676 (h), 219 473-4259 (fax), [log in to unmask]

Diane Vukovich, Interim Director, Department of Developmental Programs, The
University of Akron.


The topic of this symposium is the future of developmental education: trends
and direction of developmental education in the 21st century; how these
trends differ from current practice; the role of two-and four-year
institutions in developmental education; the role of the private sector in
developmental education; and the role of the Internet in developmental

In the last 5 years, developmental education has attracted intense public
scrutiny. This scrutiny has been manifested in Congressional and state
legislative debates (Arendale 1998a, Zumeta 1998), on college campuses
between faculty and administrators (Jones 1998; Guffey, Rampp &Masters 1998),
and in college and university board rooms. Most of this discussion has been
negative. Martha Maxwell (1997a) claims: "For over a hundred years, academics
have considered our developmental courses as expendable and temporary. Since
developmental education has become such a strong threat politically to those
who would uphold academic standards, politicians and 4-year college leaders
are trying to eliminate courses or at least to push them back to the 2-year
colleges, as South Carolina and many other states are doing at the present."
She argues further that "many universities no longer need to admit as many
under prepared students as they did in the 80s and early 90s because there
are larger numbers of well-prepared high school graduates to fill their
freshmen classes" (p.1).
Despite a robust economy, public financial support of higher education has
been declining and is projected to continue to decline (Arendale 1998b,
Zumeta 1998). These financial concerns have had a direct impact on
developmental education. As Zumeta (1998) notes, "States have also tried to
reduce or cut remediation--campus-based pre-college courses for students
deficient in basic academic skills" (p.83). As David Arendale (1998b) notes,
"The US press is filled with news reports detailing attempts and actions by
postsecondary institutions and state and national policy makers to limit or
eliminate learning assistance activities and developmental education courses,
especially at the 4-year level"(p.1). The same concern is expressed in the
Strategic Plan of the National Association for Developmental Education. The
plan projects that: "more states will legislate that developmental education
courses in public 4-year institutions be decreased or eliminated" (p.3).
The decision to write this paper was based on the author's recognition that
at the end of the twentieth century, developmental education was facing an
uncertain future. The paper became a means of raising the issue with several
of the most respected leaders in the profession: David Arendale, Director of
the Center for Academic Development, University of Missouri, Kansas City;
Hunter Boylan, Director, National Center for Developmental Education,
Appalachian State University, NC; Kaylene Gebert, Associate Vice Chancellor
for Academic and Student Affairs, State System of Higher Education, PA; Diane
Vukovich, Interim Director, Department of Developmental Programs University
of Akron; Santiago Silva, Director, Learning Assistance Center, University of
Texas-Pan American; Martha Maxwell, retired Professor Emeritus, University of
California, Berkeley  The issues we agreed to discuss were formulated in the
following questions: 1. What trends, directions do you see in developmental
education in the 21st century? 2. How are these 21st century trends different
from developmental education services offered today? 3. What do you think
about removing developmental education from 4-year colleges and universities?
4. Some people argue that community colleges are better suited to offer
developmental education than 4-year institutions. What is your opinion? 5. If
you had total control and unlimited resources, describe the components of
your ideal academic support program.
From the responses to these questions, several trends emerged: 1)
2) removal of developmental education from 4-year institutions; and 3)
increased professionalism of developmental educators. When developmental
education courses are "mainstreamed" as part of college-level, graduation
credit programs of study a paradigm shift occurs from remedial education to
academic support and enrichment for all students. Without question, 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. Silva includes academic advising, counseling, career services,
mentoring, and especially faculty training. Arendale and Vukovich propose a
complete paradigm shift away from the medical model to learning support for
all students. By deferring to Maxwell's latest book (1997b), Improving
student learning skills, Vukovich gives Maxwell credit for providing insight
into best practices based on years of experience and the best research. The
result of Maxwell's study is 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 a service
for all students. It 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 drag on the institution's academic standards.
To the extent that developmental education is under attack around the
country, mainstreaming seems like an excellent strategy to circumvent its
critics. If the trend to remove developmental education from 4-year and even
2-year institutions continues, then the academic needs of a large portion of
the student body will not be met. According to Tinto (1998), nearly four in
ten students enter college with some form of developmental education need. In
some institutions, developmental students make up most of the entering
student body, requiring "remediation" in nearly every subject area.
Currently, Tinto points out that nearly 90% of all colleges and universities
offer developmental assistance, including the "elite" schools.
An approach to combating the negative attitudes in the public, in the
political arena, and among our administrative and academic colleagues is the
increased professionalization of our ranks. Although only a few graduate
programs exist to provide advanced degrees for developmental professionals,
developmental educators have many opportunities for professional development.
The profession has experienced a proliferation of professional organizations
on the national, regional and state level that hold meetings throughout the
year to discuss issues of vital importance to professional educators.
Further, the developmental educators' LISTSERV, LRNASST, plays a vital role
in providing a communications link between professionals no matter where they
work. Members of the LISTSERV discuss a wide range of subjects and provide
each other with valuable information. Several important publications are
available for the publication of information and analysis of issues important
to professionals, and readership of these publications is growing. I think it
is clear that the more informed as a profession we are the better able we are
to direct our energies where they need to be namely in the service of our


Arendale, D. (1998a). Survey of education policies concerning developmental
at the local, state and federal level in the US Revised November 13, 1998.
[on-line]. Available:http://www.umkc/cad/nade/nadedocs/update.htm

Arendale, D. (1998b) Learning and teaching in the 21st. century: Seven habits
of highly
effective developmental educators. Oct. 30, 1998. [on-line] Available:

Guffey, S. J., Rampp, L. C., & Masters, M. M. (1998). A paradigm shift in
teaching the
academically unprepared student: Building a case for an andragogical
methodology. College Student Journal, 32, (3), 423-430.

Jones, P. (1998). Struggle over remediation's future spreads to Chicago
Community College Week, 10 (22), 2-4.

Maxwell. M. (1997a). Email on [log in to unmask] March 13.

Maxwell. M. (1997b). Improving student learning skills. A New Edition. H&H
Publishing, Clearwater.

Tinto, V. (1998). Remedial education in higher education: Learning
communities and the
reconstruction of higher education. Paper presented at the National Center
Postsecondary Improvement and the Ford Foundation's Conference on Replacing
Remediation in Higher Education, Stanford University, CA.

Zumeta, W. (1998). 1997 state higher education finance and policy
developments. The
NEA 1998
almanac of higher education. (65-92). Washington, DC: The National Education