Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Does Faculty Employment Status Impact Developmental Mathematics Outcomes?

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Does Faculty Employment Status Impact Developmental Mathematics Outcomes?

Article excerpt

There is a need to improve student outcomes in developmental programs at the community college. Foshay and Perez (2000) suggest that almost one half of all students entering community colleges require remediation. Hall and Ponton (2005) state that 3 out of 10 first-time freshman students enroll in developmental courses, and they further note that mathematics is the subject most essential to determining students' success in degree attainment. McCabe (2000) confirms these findings, noting that only 42% of students leave high school with adequate skills for college-level work; of these underprepared students, 62% are deficient in mathematics. "More students begin college less prepared in math than in any other subject" (McCabe, 2003, p. 90). Accordingly, the population of students in the community college requiring developmental mathematics courses is enormous, and these developmental students have special needs in order to achieve successful outcomes (Boylan, 2002).

Policy makers and educators alike have recognized the need for improvement in student outcomes in developmental courses at the community college. In 1987, the Texas state legislature established the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP), which according to Boylan was "probably the most advanced developmental education system in the country at that time" (Boylan & Saxon, 2006, p. 1). This program required testing and placement, comprehensive reporting, data collection, analysis, and feedback procedures from each higher education institution. More recently, the Texas Higher Education Plan established a goal of increasing by 50% the number of degrees, certificates, and other student successes within the state by 2015 (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2002). Additionally, the TASP was replaced by the Texas Success Initiative in 2003 by legislative edict. Finally, in 2005-06, a Developmental Education Subcommittee of the Texas P-16 Council was "charged with developing recommendations to effectively address developmental education in Texas" (Texas Education Agency, 2006, p. 4).

Similarly, higher education has a vested interest in improving student outcomes. The Commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board states, "When an institution admits a student, it accepts the responsibility to do everything it can to help that student succeed ... this responsibility demands that colleges and universities embrace remedial or developmental education as part of their mission" (Martinez & Martinez, 2006, p. 11). Commonly embraced standards for assessing the effectiveness of developmental education programs within higher education include student completion rates and grades (Boylan, Bonham, White, & George, 2000). Thus, improving student outcomes in developmental mathematics, as a gatekeeper course, can contribute to attainment of goals shared by policy makers and higher education.

According to McCabe (2000), nearly half of community college remedial education students successfully complete their remedial education program; data also suggest that only about half of the students who enroll in a developmental mathematics course successfully complete the course ("Amarillo College," 2006; Maricopa Community Colleges Institutional Effectiveness Office and Maricopa Governance, 2002; Office of Research and Planning, Germanna Community College, 2002; Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, 2003). Given the emphasis on successful developmental education programs, these data reflect the need for improvements in developmental mathematics; an examination of course delivery may provide insight for such improvements.

In Fall 2003, about two thirds of all faculty in community colleges were employed part time (Cataldi, Fahimi, & Bradburn, 2005). Similarly, Boylan (2002) states that over 60% of the nation's community college developmental courses are taught by adjunct or part-time faculty. These large percentages suggest that part-time faculty have a huge impact on the quality of teaching and learning experienced by developmental students. …

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