Outcome Trajectories of Developmental Students in Community Colleges

Christine D. Bremer, Bruce A. Center, Christen L. Opsal, Amanuel Medhanie, Yoo Jeong Jang, Aaron C. Geise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This analysis explores student outcomes related to taking developmental English (i.e., reading and/or writing) and math classes in three community colleges in three different states, using institutional data from 7,898 students who began college in the fall of 2009 (Cohort 1) or fall 2010 (Cohort 2). We examine the outcome trajectories of students at each college, considering their enrollment in developmental courses in their first term at college as well as other variables. Several factors helped students persist into the second term of college, and a subset of these was also significantly related to continued persistence, graduation, and higher overall grade point average (GPA). Older students, White/non-Hispanic students, and occupational students were more likely to graduate. These groups, and women, also had higher cumulative GPAs. Math ability at the time of college entrance was a powerful predictor of student success. The utility of reading placement as a predictor, and the utility of developmental English, reading, and writing (DERW) classes as an intervention, were both limited to retention into the second term and/or second year. Financial aid and tutoring were much more clearly related to student success than was developmental coursework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-175
Number of pages22
JournalCommunity College Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research reported in this article was supported by the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, PR/Award (No. VO51A070003).

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • developmental education
  • predictor variables
  • student outcomes
  • student retention
  • student support services

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