Weight of developmental classes on graduation rate

In the nation, many students enrolled in developmental classes never reach their goals of completing college. Laramie County Community College conducted a project in the spring 2012 semester to compare LCCC with the nation in that area.

Ann Murray, LCCC manager of institutional research, who led this project, said she had Lindee Wiltjer, a University of Wyoming doctoral student who interned her office during the spring 2012 semester, conduct the research because it was a good project for an internship and it fit the Wiltjer’s timeframe.

Documenting success rate over time

“The project was to look at students enrolled in developmental classes in 2005 and track them to see their success over time,” Murray explained. Wiltjer developed the project to track persistence, stop out, transfers and graduation rates among students who were enrolled in developmental classes in 2005 during a five-year period through the fall 2011 semester.

Murray added this project came about because nationally colleges are asked about the effectiveness of developmental courses and most students who are enrolled in developmental classes never reach their goals and do not graduate. So Murray decided to see if this applied to LCCC students.

Murray said, demographically, students enrolled in developmental classes look like the rest of LCCC’s students. She said though in terms of persistence (semester to semester enrollment) developmental students were less like the general population of LCCC. She said overall in terms of those who eventually completed their degree, the percentage was not much different than the rest of the student body of LCCC. “LCCC doesn’t have a great graduation rate overall though,” Murray added.

Results spelled out

From the executive summary of the project, Murray found:

  • Only 23.51 percent of the students in developmental courses in fall 2005 completed a degree or certificate within the last five years;

  • The majority of these students were enrolled only in a developmental math course (Of the 838 students, 67.3 percent were only in the developmental math course.), and only 27.1 percent completed. Students enrolled in developmental math courses at the University of Wyoming campus were excluded;

  • Some 31 percent of the students tracked during the past five years were enrolled in developmental reading and writing courses. Students who were only in developmental reading accounted for .07 percent overall, and, of those, only 16.6 percent completed. Students who were only in developmental writing accounted for 9 percent overall, and, of those, only 16 percent completed;

  • Of the 23 percent of the students enrolled in more than one developmental class, only 16.06 percent completed;

  • Full-time students completed at a higher rate than part-time students;

  • Of the 838 students who enrolled in developmental courses in 2005, 42 were still enrolled in LCCC course in the fall 2011 semester;

  • The persistence of these students to enroll semester after semester slowly decreased during the five-year period and;

  • Of these students who stopped out during the five-year period, 92.24 percent re-enrolled in a future semester and 36.28 percent transferred to another school.

  • Murray said she planned to continue this project, and after this semester is over, she will look at the students who were enrolled in developmental classes in 2006. “Because of some personnel changes we still need that next step,” Murray said. “We plan to continue this research though.”