Sorry folks, I erred in the original title. What Bohr's study and many others
have found is that students who take a developmental reading course in college
do not improve their reading. In other words, taking developmental reading
courses does not make a difference.

This is a reply to Joanie Schulman's comments:

< Could it be that music, foreign language, and engineering courses
are electives chosen by the student, who is interested and motivated to
learn the material because s/he likes it? >
No, those courses are usually required for majors but you're right, students are
probably more interested and motivated to take them, in their major fields (or
those required for a liberal arts degree) though they rarely have a choice. But
also I suspect that these courses are more rigorous than developmental reading
and require not only class effort but lots of homework performed reqularly.

< While "Developmental Reading" implies a "deficiency" which makes the student
uncomfortable, and not
very happy about having to relearn something that should have been masterd
by the time s/he reached college.>  Perhaps that is the point. It's apparently
unclear to both the instructor and the student what should have been mastered
and poor readers usually do NOT enjoy reading. It is not pleasurable for them!
So if they're assigned reading exercises in dev. courses on what I'd call
"non--books" (i.e., stories or information that they consider irrelevant) then
they are going to do as little as possible and resist as much as they can.

<  Perhaps the "Developmental Reading" courses should be adjunct courses with
chosen electives, where the students would be
using the preferred text to learn the necessary reading strategies.  This was
just a thought, maybe it's an old and tested one.>

 You are right. Studies have consistently shown that paired courses, adjunct
skills courses, Supplemental Instruction classes do what they promise - i.e.,
improve grades, morale, interests, and even graduation rates. However, somehow
those in charge of making decisions about required courses (such as state
legislators and curriculum committees) don't seem to understand this and forever
want to condemn students to the purgatory of developmental courses.

Urie Triesman, the mathematician who's had great success teaching unrepresented
minority students to become mathematicians and scientists says: "Call it
intensive. Call it an honors program. Call it anything, but DON"T CALL IT A
REMEDIAL (developmental) course."  Of course his calculus workshops are very
intensive as students spend 6 hours a week in collaborative workshops, attend
classes for 3 hours and are expected to do a number of hourse of homework in
addition. And that raises the question of whether we are requiring students to
do homework or practice in developmental reading courses to the extent that we
should be.

There is also another issue and that is whether reading instructors are teaching
the textbooks or the students. If students are unable to read well enough to
comprehend the comprehension exercises or don't understand what a "main idea"
means, are they going to improve when we give them workbook exercises?

Let's hear your opinions.