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Ditto to Georgine of Pitt
Sandra from WFU
 
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On Thu, 20 Apr 1995, Georgine Materniak wrote:
 
> This is in reply to both Gene Beckett's message and Martha Maxwell's
> message and my contribution to the current discussions.
>
> I have to agree with much of what Karen Smith said regarding her learning
> assistance programs at Rutgers.  At the University of Pittsburgh, the
> Learning Skills Center was established 23 years ago to serve anyone in
> the University population who could benefit from learning better ways to
> learn.  We work with everyone from "special admit" students to medical
> school students. We work with second term freshmen who had less than a
> 2.0 their first term at the University as well as with honor college
> students.  The QPA's of the students we serve approach a bell-shaped curve.
> The Learning Skills Center was set up to provide academic support
> services to the general population because other programs had already
> been created, funded by state and national resources, to address the needs
> of specific population. I would classify one of these programs as being a
> developmental education program because it actually has its own math and
> sciences courses, its own advising and counseling system, and its own
> admissions process. There is a  separate support service for student
> athletes on Pitt's campus. There is a Writing Workshop in the English
> Department that provides non-credit help to any student, freshman to
> disseration writer, who needs assistance with writing. There are writing and
> math placement tests that student's take to place out of required algebra
> and writing courses. Since these courses are taught by faculty and
> instructors of the English and Math Departments, I have never, and expect will
> never, hear them identify themsevles as "developmental educators".  They are
> English or Math faculty or instructors. The atmosphere and politics of major
> research universities reinforce such titles. The term "developmental
> education" is not used on this campus except among those of us who
> self-identify professionally with the title developmental educator. I have
> at times proposed to academic deans that the required math and writing
> course, and perhaps some other entry levelcourses, should make up an academic
> department of developmental studies that would consist of hand-picked
> faculty who personally are committed to this student population and to
> the curriculum and pedagogy that is beneficial to the developmental student.
> It has never been entertained. Would the official use of the term
> "developmental education" ever fly on this campus? I doubt it. Too many
> people, who I would place under the general term of "developmental
> educators", have other professional identities that are ingrained.
> Oh, by the way, since our Freshman Seminars are taught by faculty from
> across the disciplines and by professional staff of the University, I
> doubt they would identify as being developmental educators in this role.
> Again, their primary identity is elsewhere.
>
> That brings me to my second point. No one, more than I, would like to
> invent one term that would refer to all of us who are in this profession.
> It would have made my life much simplier in the 10+ years that I have
> worked on developing professional standards. But I think we have to
> admit, that those of us in this profession for the past 20 years, have
> made distinctions in the variety of "models" that have evolved. We
> recognize a kindred spirit of helping any student become confident and
> successful learners. But how we design our programs varies by the
> populations we target, by whether we assist through credit-bearing
> courses or self-referred non-credit support services, by whether our
> institutions classify us as faculty or as staff, by whether the students we
> assist are admitted through exceptional means or by regular admissions,
> etc.  The beauty and the strength of our profession is that we design
> hybrid programs that meet the specific criteria of our students and our
> institutions.  Are any of our programs identical? I doubt it. There are
> strong similarities but variations on themes and methods and purpose.
>
> Whether we admit it or not, we have form subsets of identities that group
> us by similarities but our differences have been the problem of finding a
> common name we will all subscribe to.  If we do find a term, it cannot be
> one that has already existed because it will be almost impossible to shed
> the definitions we have assumed about terms used over the past 20 years.
> Is it that people don't want to be identified as one common profession. I
> don't believe it.  But, people do want to preserve the identity of the
> subset to which they have the most in common. Call me a developmental
> educator and I'll respond.  Call me a learning assitance professional and
> I'll respond. But ask me to choose one title-----for me, in the role of
> my program at the University of Pittsburgh, I am a learning assistance
> professional.
>
> Whoa! Didn't realize I had so much to say, but there it is. Let's keep
> this going because this discussion has a lot of implications including
> the revision of the standards of our profession.  And, by the way, I do
> not believe the answer is to develop separate standards for subsets of
> our profession.  THere are too many things we have in common so let's not
> divide us.
>
>
> Georgine Materniak
> University of Pittsburgh
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>