Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Sally S. Lee, Russell O. Mays, Russell F. West


The challenge of underprepared students' entering America's colleges and universities is not new. Because of their "open door" policies, community colleges are more likely to enroll students who are not college prepared. This retrospective study focused on the performance of students who had completed required developmental education courses compared to the performance of students without developmental requirements. The study examined developmental education success measures for five cohorts of first-time degree-seeking freshmen each tracked for a six-year period enrolled at Walters State Community College located in Tennessee.

The success measures compared included grade point averages earned in college-level mathematics and English courses, cumulative college-level credit hours earned, cumulative college-level grade point averages earned, and number of graduates. Existing data, gathered from the college's student information database, were analyzed through the application of two univariate approaches--the t-test for independent samples and the chi-square.

The study found that nondevelopmental students earned statistically higher grade point averages in college-level mathematics and statistically higher cumulative college-level grade point averages. The study found that significant statistical differences did not exist between the two student groups in grade point averages earned in college-level composition and in graduation rates. The study's findings relative to the comparison of average cumulative college-level credit hours earned by the two student groups were mixed. Although statistically significant differences were found for some performance variables, they were not so large as to conclude that the college's developmental education program was ineffective.

For this study to be useful for future decision making, it must be compared with results of future studies designed to measure performance and effectiveness. Therefore, it is recommended that the analysis be updated annually. Practitioners at other state colleges should undertake research directed at establishing the level of overall effectiveness of developmental education across the state.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.