Developmental courses and the First-Year Experience

Michelle called our attention to a recent New York Times article about the growing need for remediation within CUNY, “CUNY Adjusts Amid Tide of Remedial Students.” If you did not have a chance to read it yet, check it out here. I know that Charles is planning to teach a developmental course in the fall semester as his Gen-Ed-enhanced course. Is anyone else teaching a developmental course as part of the Title V program in the fall? The article reminds me to consider the role of developmental courses in the First-Year Experience, since many students begin their coursework with multiple zero-credit courses. What does it mean to be considered a first-year student who has actually been a City Tech student for more than a semester already?

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3 Responses to Developmental courses and the First-Year Experience

  1. Jonas Reitz says:

    I think this issue is worth more exploration. SO MANY of our students spend their first (and second, and sometimes third and fourth) semesters of college in “developmental classrooms,” and many never make it any farther. Students have such a troubled relationship to these classes — they are signs of their own shortcomings, they are “being forced to go backwards” before they can move forwards, and so on. I think that these courses are the ideal place to start introducing students to new ways of knowing and approaching the world. Yes, the material being covered is the same material that they were exposed to in high school (or elementary school), but THEY are not the same — they bring years more experience and sophistication to the table this time around. And the setting is not the same — this is college, a qualitatively different experience, and helping them gain a sense of “what college is” in these courses could make all the difference. The challenge is to overcome the emotional momentum attached to these subjects, and the stigma attached to these classes, and get them to really engage. All the while covering a densely-packed syllabus and preparing them for a daunting standardized exam. I am not sure exactly how to do this, but I think there is a lot of opportunity here.

    (Thanks, Jonas, for letting me segue into my concerns du jour)

    Before I dive into the blogosphere, I have a couple questions. What is the synergy of these blogs? What do we foresee as the interaction of these blogs among us fellows? How are these blogs invested in our living laboratory experience? As in a laboratory, are we following the scientific method–pretty much the modus operandi of examining the observable world? Kinda like Richard Feynman if we let our curiosity get the best of us in our teaching (e.g. how do those ants go from one place to another?); we look and see, ask questions, do research, construct hypotheses, test, analyze, draw conclusions, and share our results. BTW: The “method” is not exclusively the domain of science, the method is followed in almost all aspects of learning, that is if the creating mind and the synthesizing mind are both in operation.

    That being said, how do we do this as colleagues for the purpose of general education? How will our individual blogs act in concert to facilitate our fellows’ interaction (us guys), our students’ interaction, and also engage the college at large?

    Remember I’ll be working with developmental reading. I’ll be working with students who are quite self-conscious. So what should I do for the blog? I’ll have to play around with the blog a little bit before I have something to show. I hope the learning curve is quick and easy. And I’ll need to discover the interface with our online teaching platform. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to link to Blackboard where I have students set up in groups to work interactively on reading projects, and also where I have individual entries for private journal work that I can respond to one-to-one with students. So it seems I’ll be running two parallel systems. I’d like them to complement not overlap.

    With my blog I hope to have more than online text and pictures that show, tell, and comment; but on the other hand, I don’t want my digital space to take up world domination. Wise counsel is appreciated.

  3. Pingback: Making our developmental math programs work | A Living Laboratory: General Education Seminars at City Tech

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