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KADE Faculty Training Outline

Best Practices for Developmental Education Faculty Training

The Kentucky Association for Developmental Education (KADE) is committed to providing high quality programs and services for all students entering post-secondary institutions. KADE focuses on providing developmental educators encouragement, best practices in the classroom, feedback on current state policies that affect the students we teach, content areas and placement assessment and placement issues. Our goal is to offer and preserve educational opportunity for each postsecondary learner.

The leadership of the organization identified a faculty and staff training need for those serving students with basic skill needs in English (composition), reading, and mathematics. The decision was made to provide an outline that institutions could use to develop a faculty training program. Our goal is to help faculty better understand the needs of students so that under-prepared students can prepare, prepared students can advance, and advanced students can excel in a college or university setting.

The following outline is provided to help institutions throughout the Commonwealth build a faculty training program that emphasizes the needs of students entering under-prepared for college level work. To be most effective, a training program must be unique to the institution so that specific services and resources information is given to all faculty, especially those new to the institution. The outline is arranged around four major areas of informational need: operational, context, instruction, and faculty support. "Operational" refers to specific information faculty need to understand the campus, reporting structures and communication avenues, technology and resources available to faculty and students, the evaluation process, and campus policies that impact the students, faculty, and staff at the institution. "Context" refers to understanding the principles, history, and best practices of developmental education programs. Establishing program goals, instructional practices, definitions, learning preferences, and learning styles are highlighted in the context section. The "instruction" section refers to the course and classroom practices that impact classroom management and teaching. "Faculty support" recognizes the practices that can be used to create an inclusive environment for new and continuing developmental education faculty and supports the professional development of all faculty.

We encourage each institution to consider building a faculty training program to promote professional development in the field.

  1. Operational  
    1. Campus - Please provide a comprehensive list (with locations, hours of operation, and descriptions) of essential services and resources available for developmental faculty and students. Faculty need to be familiar with student health, counseling, and tutoring services to make student referrals. Please provide information to orient faculty and their students to the library and the available library services (tours, training, etc.) and explain how to access them.
    2. Campus Map (Physical Map/Organizational Map)
      Please provide both a campus map and an organization chart for the institution. The campus map ensures that all faculty teaching developmental courses have a sense of campus, know where other classrooms are located, and know the location of resources students will need to know such as the library, tutoring centers, counseling centers, financial aid, etc. The organizational map provides a blueprint of the campus administrative structure so that each faculty member understands reporting units at the institution. Having an organization chart that reaches from the President to the academic department is preferred.
    3. Communication Avenues - Clarify the acceptable/ preferred channels of communication for all developmental faculty. Provide a list of appropriate faculty, staff, and administrators with accurate office locations, phone numbers, and e-mails. Identify the kinds of information each of these can provide. Indicate the order in which each should be consulted if there is a communication hierarchy.
    4. Technology in classroom - New instructors must be made aware of the following:
      1. How to access their school email and voicemail accounts from home and office. Instructors should regularly check incoming email and voicemail messages and respond to these in a timely manner.
      2. Where to locate and how to use available computers and copiers.
      3. How to input grades and complete other reports using on-line systems.
      4. Instructors should be encouraged to attend on-campus training sessions that will keep them current with new technology.
      5. Instructors should be encouraged to use technology in the developmental education classroom.
    5. On-Campus Involvement
      Instructors need to know the location of all classroom buildings, libraries, computer labs, administrative offices, parking lots, food services, counseling offices, accessibility centers, and tutoring centers (math lab, writing center, etc.).
    6. Information About Student and Faculty Evaluations
      Instructors must receive a copy of the student evaluations and be told when these will be administered. At the end of the semester, instructors should be given feedback about the results. Instructors should be made aware of what factors play a role in their future employment.
    7. Campus policies - The instructor should be made aware of general admission and placement policies. Placement test cut-off scores should be provided for the instructor's discipline. The following should also be made available: the institution's Student Code of Conduct, a copy of the American Disability Act (ADA), and federal guidelines regarding privacy issues (See also:
  2. Context   
    1. Hunter Boylan, Director for the National Center for Developmental Education, in his book What Works has described the principles, the history and the best practices for developmental education:

      Principles of Developmental Education          Hunter Boylan, 2004

      1. Accept students where they are and move them as far as they can go.
      2. Assume that all students have the potential for growth.
      3. Facilitate the transfer of knowledge to new learning situations.
      4. Increase cognitive self-awareness-strengths and weaknesses of learning abilities.
      5. Encourage students to gradually accept responsibility for their own learning-spoon-feeding may be necessary for survival at the early stage of development.
      6. Recognize that learning goes beyond cognitive (knowledge) development and includes affective (life circumstances, motivation, etc.) development.

      History of Developmental Education          Hunter Boylan

      1849   The University of Wisconsin established a Preparatory Department for underprepared students.
      1944   The GI Bill was passed by Congress. From 1945 to 1958 eight million military personnel used it to continue their education. This caused a shift to older (non-traditional) students-many of whom needed refresher courses.
      1965 The Higher Education Act was passed as part of the "Great Society" under President Lyndon Johnson. This provided education for the general population through financial aid. TRIO programs were established. These new opportunities attracted women and minority students to college.
      1970s The developmental education movement began. There was a shift from "remediation" which was re-teaching high school material to "educational development," which has a holistic approach to students' academic and personal goals.
      Since then, 75% of American universities and 100% of community colleges have begun to offer developmental courses which have enabled hundreds of thousands of students to pursue and to successfully achieve their personal goals.
      1980's to present Developmental education has become a comprehensive educational resource including developmental classes (reading, writing, math, and academic success), learning centers, tutoring, assessment and placement, counseling and advising, and learning communities.

      Best Practices in Developmental Education

           Organization and Administration

      1. The institution has a centralized or highly coordinated developmental education program.
      2. Expectations for developmental education are well managed.
      3. There is collaboration between developmental education and other campus units.
      4. Our developmental program has a clearly defined statement of mission, goals, and objectives.
      5. Developmental education is an institutional priority.
      6. The institution provides comprehensive services in support of developmental education.
      7. Grant funds are used to support innovation in developmental education.
      8. Developmental education is integrated with campus outreach services in the community.

           Program Components

      1. Assessment is mandatory for all entering students.
      2. Placement in courses is mandatory based on assessment.
      3. A systematic plan is in place for the evaluation of developmental education courses and services.
      4. Formative evaluation is used by developmental educators to refine and improve courses and services.
      5. Professional development for developmental educators is consistently supported.
      6. Tutoring is provided to developmental students in all basic skills subjects.
      7. Tutors working with developmental students are required to participate in training activities.
      8. Developmental educators are regularly involved in their professional associations.
      9. Adjunct faculty are treated as an important resource for developmental education.
      10. Student performance is systematically monitored by faculty and advisors.
      11. A written philosophy statement guides the provision of developmental education courses and services.
      12. Classrooms and laboratories are well integrated.

           Instructional Practices

      1. Learning communities are provided for developmental students.
      2. A wide variety of different instructional methods are used in developmental courses.
      3. Students are tested at least 10 times a semester in developmental courses.
      4. Technology is used primarily as a supplement for instruction in developmental courses.
      5. Feedback is frequently provided on a regular basis in developmental courses.
      6. Mastery learning is a common characteristic of developmental courses.
      7. Systematic efforts are made to link the content of developmental courses to the rest of the curriculum.
      8. Instructional strategies are regularly shared among developmental instructors in some systematic way.
      9. Critical thinking is taught in all developmental courses.
      10. Learning strategies are either embedded in developmental courses or taught as a separate course.
      11. All developmental instructors regularly use active learning techniques in their courses.
      12. All developmental instructors regularly utilize Classroom Assessment Techniques in their courses.

        Boylan, Hunter. What Works: Research-Based Best Practices in Developmental Education. Continuous Quality Improvement Network with the NCDE, Appalachian Slate University, NC. 2002. Pages 107-110.

        Developmental faculty should be informed about the structure of developmental studies within the institution--a separate division or department.

        This question should be answered: Why is developmental education a necessary part of post-secondary education? There are two million students enrolled in developmental education courses and programs each year across the nation. Without special intervention, only 10% complete degrees (Boylan, 1999). These students are underprepared for postsecondary education, and without developmental education, they would have no access to college-level work toward their chosen degree or profession.

        Developmental faculty should also be both informed of and familiar with their institution's placement policy.

    2. Goals and Definition of Developmental Education

      Goals of Developmental Education

      1. To preserve and make possible educational opportunity for each postsecondary learner.
      2. To develop in each learner the skills and attitudes necessary for the attainment of academic career and life goals.
      3. To ensure proper placement by assessing each learner's level of preparedness for college course work.
      4. To maintain academic standards by enabling learners to acquire competencies needed for success in mainstream college courses.
      5. To enhance the retention of students.
      6. To promote the continued development and application of cognitive and affective learning theory.

      Definition of Developmental Education
      Developmental education is a field of practice and research within higher education with a theoretical foundation in developmental psychology and learning theory. It promotes the cognitive and affective growth of all postsecondary learners, at all levels of the learning continuum. Developmental education is sensitive and responsive to the individual differences and special needs among learners. Developmental education programs and services commonly address academic preparedness, diagnostic assessment and placement, development of general and discipline- specific learning strategies, and affective barriers to learning.

      The above information has been provided by the National Association for Developmental Education.

    3. Identify developmental education students as being similar to any typical traditional or nontraditional student, except for the fact that they are academically under prepared, representing diverse backgrounds, and often limited in ability to manage life circumstances. A common characteristic is low self-esteem, often due to a history of failure or an extended time away from academics.
    4. Developmental faculty should be familiarized with ways to meet students' academic needs in the classroom. Refer to the "Instructional Practices" section of the Best Practices in Developmental Education (in II A) by Hunter Boylan. Provide information on resources available for students, including those with special needs. Students should learn how to use college email. They should be informed of tutoring center schedules and academic workshops. Encourage posting and using of office hours for adjunct faculty.
    5. Provide information to faculty about different learning styles.

      Overview of Basic Learning Preferences

      Visual learners would rather read a textbook or study a diagram than to listen to a lecture. The traditional hour-long college lecture will be difficult for a purely visual learner.

      Auditory learners would rather listen to an explanation than read it. Auditory learners may learn a great deal during lectures; studying a textbook will be more difficult.

      Kinesthetic learners prefer doing, feeling, moving, manipulating, taking apart and putting back together, touching. Another term for this type of learner is a tactile learner.

      Social learners enjoy group project and collaborative learning. Social learners may have difficulty studying alone and tackling individual research projects.

      Independent learners like the freedom of working alone. An independent learner may feel frustrated by the give and take of group work. Be aware that teamwork and collaboration are vital in many professions, so group project work in college can help develop important social skills that lead to employability skills.

      Conceptual learners enjoy theories and ideas. They crave information and may not care that a subject isn't particularly useful. You may dislike hands-on learning experiences in labs and computer centers.

      Pragmatic learners are practical. They want to learn useful information that can be applied to the here and now. They often feel impatient with theories and abstract explanations.

      Common Characteristics of Learning Styles

      Visual Learners
      o Learn best by seeing information
      o Can easily recall printed information in the form of numbers, words, phrases, or sentences
      o Can easily understand & recall information presented in pictures, charts, or diagrams
      o Have strong visualization skills and can loop up and "see" information
      o Can make "movies in their minds" of information they are reading
      o Have strong visual-spatial skills that involve sizes, shapes, textures, angles, and dimensions o Pay close attention & learn to interpret body language
      o Have a keen awareness of aesthetics, the beauty of the physical environment and visual media

      Auditory Learners
      o Learn best by hearing information
      o Can accurately remember details of information heard in conversations or lectures
      o Have strong language skills that include well-developed vocabularies and appreciation of words
      o Have strong oral communication skills that enable them to carry on conversations and be articulate
      o Have "finely tuned ears" and may find learning a foreign language relatively easy
      o Hear tones, rhythms, and notes of music and often have exceptional musical talent

      Kinesthetic Learners
      o Learn best by using their hands or full body movement
      o Learn best by doing
      o Learn well in activities that involve performing (athletes, actors, dancers)
      o Work well with their hands in areas such as repair, sculpting, art, working with tools
      o Are well-coordinated with a strong sense of timing and body movements
      o Often wiggle, tap their feet, or move their legs when they sit
      o Often were labeled as "hyperactive"

      Faculty may choose to use the C.I.T.E. Learning Styles Instrument or one of many other similar evaluation tools to determine learning styles and to plan classroom activities accordingly.

    6. Faculty should plan their course curriculum based on course objectives and learning outcomes as established by the institution.
    7. Faculty need to know the institution and division academic standards and policies as related to accountability (i.e. instruction time, grading, course requirements, attendance, etc.)
  3. Instruction   

    Recommended Readings:

    Erickson, B., Peters, C., & Strommer, D. (2006). Teaching first-year college students. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Boylan, H. (2002). What works: Research-based best practices in developmental education. Boone, NC: Continuous Quality Improvement Network with the NCDE, Appalachian State University. [Chapter 3 "Instruction."]

    Nilson, L. (2003). Teaching at its best: a research-based resource for college instructors. 2nd ed. Bolton, MA: Ankar Publishing Co.

    Smilkstein, R. (2003). We're born to learn: using the brain's natural learning process to create today's curriculum. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

    1. Course Outline; Syllabus (papers, timeline, requirements, policies on absences, cheating and testing etc.) - Departments or programs should have a sample syllabus for each course and these syllabi should include all of the following: learning outcomes, assignments with due dates, other course requirements, explanation of grading practices and standards, policies on absences, cheating, testing, etc. Provide a syllabus checklist and/or refer new faculty to institutional syllabus checklist. New faculty who use sample syllabi need to be sure that they internalize all parts - make the entire syllabus their own - so that student questions about the syllabus do not catch them off guard or without answers. (To review EKU's Syllabus Policy visit:
    2. Textbook explanation - New instructors need to know how and to what extent textbook(s) are used in a course by other faculty. If a textbook has no teacher's manual, the department or program should supply detailed lesson plans for at least one chapter or one major assignment.
    3. Assignment ideas - Assignment ideas should be supplied and explained thoroughly. A discussion should ensue, so that the purpose and learning outcomes of each assignment is clear to the instructor.
    4. Grading practices/standards - Standards, grading practices and systems should be as similar as possible from instructor to instructor and from class to class. Sample assignments/papers should be distributed, evaluated, and discussed, so that "norming" results. Hence, grades should represent the achievement of learning outcome. Standards should be on the college level - challenging, yet reachable for most students. The grading system should be clear to all students.
    5. Active learning strategies - An effort should be made to include at least one active learning exercise in each class. For active learning ideas, see textbooks referred to above and/or these websites: or
    6. Classroom management/professionalism in classroom - New instructors need to know that they are responsible for providing a productive, structured educational experience for every class session. On occasion, however, instructors will encounter difficult students. In order to manage the classroom effectively, the instructor should:
      • Consistently demonstrate professionalism in the classroom.
      • Balance the attention given to individual persons and attention given to course content.
      • Be aware of institutional policies and procedures related to handling disruptive students.
    7. Skill integration (reading/writing/math) - Instructors should support the teaching and learning of all skills - reading, writing, learning, math, critical/creative thinking - across the curriculum. This may require the sharing of strategies and examples among instructors from different disciplines.
    8. Technology in classroom - Developmental students should expect current technology in all aspects of classroom instruction. Therefore, developmental course instructors need to be well trained in the productive use of technology in the classroom. Use of technology includes at least some of the following: calculators, computers, email, word processing, PowerPoint, features of Web-based e-education like Blackboard, etc.
    9. Value diversity - New instructors should respect all areas of diversity such as ethnic origin, religion, gender, learning ability, physical and emotional abilities, and others. Instructors can demonstrate respect, first, by establishing an awareness of diversity within the classroom by getting to know their students through individual conferences, affective or reflective journal entries, class discussions and conversations; secondly, by making every effort to incorporate diverse learning material such as essays or writing prompts and other forms into their curriculum. In this way, students can learn more about themselves and others.

  4. Faculty Support:    The institution should make every effort to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and congeniality among all full and part-time faculty, staff and administrators in order to establish relationships that foster best practices in teaching, advising, and retaining students with developmental needs.
    1. Introduction to colleagues: It is important for faculty to be introduced to faculty and staff within the content area and to administrative office staff that a successful student commonly uses, such as financial aid, housing, testing, first year programs and developmental education program offices. Also, please encourage all new faculty to participate in new faculty training programs at the college, department and content levels to help the new faculty meet all the people they can and learn all they can about the workings of the college.
    2. Assignment of mentors: Encourage returning faculty to become encouragers and teaching mentors to new faculty members. Consider establishing formal mentoring programs pairing each new faculty member with an established faculty member who exemplifies best teaching and learning practices which lead to student retention.
    3. Peer observation: Encourage new faculty to observe the teaching of established instructors in their content area. You may want to encourage the new faculty members to invite their mentors to observe their class(es) as well. It is recommended that you use a standard observation sheet for all peer observations to document the work that has been done.
    4. Information about professional development opportunities: Develop specific professional development opportunities to meet the needs of new faculty, and also communicate all professional development opportunities to new faculty. A comprehensive list of all professional development offerings should be compiled and shared with all faculty. Be sure to include professional state and national organization meetings, such as:
      • Kentucky Association for Developmental Education (KADE)
      • National Association for Developmental Education (NADE)
      • International Reading Association (IRA)
      • Kentucky Mathematical Association for Two-Year Colleges (KYMATC)
      • American Mathematical Association for Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC)
      • Student Support Services
      • International Writing Centers Association (IWCA)
      • Ashland Teaching and Learning Conference
      • KCTCS New Horizons Conference
      • CPE conferences
      • Kellogg Institute
      • National Conference on Teaching English (NCTE)
      • Kentucky Conference on Teaching English (KCTE)
      • Kentucky Council of Teachers of Mathematics (KCTM)
      • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
      • College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA)
    5. Students with Disabilities: Students bring a variety of disabilities to the classroom, including some which are invisible, such as dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Institutions are encouraged to include the Disabilities Coordinator in faculty training sessions to offer training to the faculty which will help them recognize the characteristics of particular disabilities. Faculty need to know that they must comply with ADA policies and any accommodations established by the Disabilities Coordinator at the institution. Further, all faculty should know where to access information concerning legislation and college policies regarding students with disabilities.
    6. Hybrid training models: Several institutions have established hybrid training models that include the use of online discussion boards, class observations and mentoring programs. These hybrid training models are not dependent on any one method of training faculty, but rather use the best of many modes of delivery to communicate pertinent information as broadly as possible.
    7. Please consider promoting faculty training in any way needed on your campus so that best teaching and retention practices are followed by all faculty.

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