"A Tremendous Amount of Effort": Literacy Learning in One Accelerated Developmental English Class




Doheney, Karen Sutter

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This dissertation describes the findings of a qualitative case study about literacy learning in an accelerated developmental English class at Marsh Community College (MCC), a multi-campus college located in a mid-Atlantic state, which has accelerated the delivery of its courses in an effort to improve the success rates of its developmental students. Proponents of acceleration (Adams et al., 2009; Bailey, 2009; Hern, 2012) argue that offering a faster path through required developmental courses expands access to college-level coursework. What is less clear is whether this faster pace gives students the time and instructional support they need to complete the courses successfully. A report released by MCC indicated that while enrollment in the redesigned courses has decreased, developmental students’ pass rates have declined as well (Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment (2014). The goal of this study was to explore what happens in an accelerated developmental English class in an effort to help faculty and administrators understand why some students are successful while others are not. The results of the study suggest that students must put forth a tremendous amount of effort to cope with the challenges of literacy learning in a fast-paced developmental English course if they are to be successful in the class.



Education, Accelerated Design, Case Study, College, Developmental English, Literacy