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What is Developmental Education?

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  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Developmental education is an approach to education in the field of higher learning which focuses on helping students to reach their full potential. While developmental education often focuses on learners who are struggling, it is applicable to students at all levels of ability. Many colleges have programs which provide assistance to students of all levels, and developmental educators can be found associated with these programs and working in professional organizations which are designed to advance this field within the education community.

The precepts of developmental education are rooted in learning theory and developmental psychology. Learning theory involves the wide range of ways in which people learn and acquire knowledge, and how learning can be improved and made accessible for people people, while developmental psychology concerns the development of the brain and mind as people mature. The integration of these fields is critical to helping students learn effectively.

Advocates for developmental education point out that people learn in a wide variety of ways, and that with a little bit of assistance, students can often achieve high levels of academic performance. Assistance can take a number of forms, including tutoring and coaching, special classes, homework help, counseling, and accommodations for test taking. Developmental educators try to avoid the term “remedial” when discussing the programs they work in, to avoid stigmatizing or humiliating students. By assisting students who may be struggling, developmental educators can give these students a chance to succeed, rather than allowing them to fall by the wayside.

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Academic success is very important to developmental educators, as is demonstrable progress made by a student enrolled in a developmental education program. A number of tools can be used to see how successful a student is, including looking at test results, examining written papers, and interviewing the student to see if he or she is becoming more confident, capable, and self-assured. Goals may be set for a student at an early stage, so that a frame of reference can be created for evaluating progress.

Although developmental education is very focused on how students learn and improving student capabilities, it also encompasses other aspects of the student, including physical health and emotional well-being. By looking at the whole student, educators acknowledge that learning does not occur in a vacuum, and that it is important to address issues like home life when dealing with a student who needs some extra help. Occasionally, students need help with social and psychological problems much more than assistance with school work, and developmental education approaches can provide this needed support.

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anon306092
Post 4

Developmental education in the post-secondary setting is necessary for many students who were not able to learn in high school through differentiated instruction.

GreenWeaver
Post 3

Developmental bilingual education offers a variety of educational approaches.

There is the transitional approach which offers an incremental method of acquiring the English language. There is also an English immersion method in which students who traditionally speak another native language would only be able to use that language to ask a question regarding an assignment.

The remainder of the time has to be spent speaking the target language which is English. This method of developmental bilingual education often seeks fluency within one to two years.

The ESOL or English as a Second Language program was a developmental education initiative that began in 1968 but there is still some controversy as to which methods are best, but the immersion is the most drastic but it provides the best short term gains.

Bhutan
Post 2

Anon88323-Developmental education best practices include offering required academic testing and orientation.

It also involves using successful students as tutors and maintaining a structured curriculum with the best teachers possible.

For example, math education in early childhood should involve the use of manipulatives so that children can learn the value of numbers with concrete objects.

Saxon Math K is a great preschool math program that offers the use of calendar activities along with counting numbers and learning sets. Once children reach the age of seven they are developmentally ready for abstract concepts involving mental math. Here students are taught to borrow without crossing out and doing the calculation in their head.

anon88323
Post 1

A developmental student at the college level is a student who is enrolled in a developmental course such as math, reading, study skills, writing, etc.

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