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Student Success: Developmental Education, College Readiness Division Opens Doors to Higher Ed for All

The team at Waubonsee’s Developmental Education and College Readiness Division, which includes 10 professors and the directors of the college’s Tutoring Center, is dedicated to helping all students succeed in higher education, no matter their background or prior level of academic success.

In the past two years, demand for space within Collins Hall on Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove campus has only gone higher, and traffic has only grown heavier.

However, that is exactly as Char Landmeier, Learning Enhancement Specialist at Waubonsee, would like it.

“There is a great deal of learning energy in the room,” Landmeier said.

Two years ago, Waubonsee breathed new life into its Tutoring Centers, which Landmeier oversees, refurbishing the Sugar Grove center in Collins Hall Room 144, and renaming and reorganizing the learning assistance programs at Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove, Aurora, Copley and Plano campuses.

Tutoring assistance was also bolstered, with two dozen tutors now offering help in English, math, Spanish and an assortment of sciences, among others, while set hours were established seven days a week.

The efforts have borne results. From fall 2012 to spring 2014, tutoring sessions have surged by 45 percent.

Those results, however, represent just one part of the great things achieved by Waubonsee’s Developmental Education and College Readiness Division.

For helping students achieve success, no matter their background or prior level of academic success, Waubonsee is proud to recognize the faculty and staff working in the Developmental Education and College Readiness (DECR) Division as this month’s Student Success: Featured Faculty and Program.

Waubonsee’s DECR Division exists for one overarching purpose, said its Dean, Dr. Medea Rambish.

“Developmental education allows anyone in the community to access higher education without sacrificing quality and rigor,” Rambish said.

Students participating in Waubonsee’s DECR programs receive assistance in several key areas, including reading, writing, mathematics, study strategies and study behaviors, all with the goal of helping them overcome barriers to learning and ready them to achieve success in college.

Through the DECR programs, students who enter Waubonsee unprepared become prepared, while students who are prepared can receive the boost to allow them to excel quickly.

In addition to tutoring assistance, Waubonsee’s DECR Division administers all reading, writing and math courses below then 100-level; all English language learner courses; personal development courses, including study skills, leadership, career exploration and research skills; the College and Career Readiness Partnership; and supplemental instruction.

Faculty working in the DECR Division include 10 professors: Lenice Abbott, Associate Professor of Reading; Maribeth Brown, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; Ellen Field, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; Teri Fuller, Assistant Professor of English; Janet Gaff, Assistant Professor of English; Michelle Lindquist, Assistant Professor of English; Josh Mattern, Assistant Professor of English; Tom Pulver, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; Jo Lynn Sedgwick, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; and Jane Thompson, Associate Professor of Mathematics.

Staff working within the division include: Landmeier; Elizabeth Guerra, Tutor Supervisor at the Aurora and Copley campuses; Lynne Krantz, Academic Specialist; and Karin Vilmin, Secretary.

In the most recent five years, Waubonsee’s DECR Division has served an average of 3,600 students enrolled in DECR courses annually. Most recently, almost 3,800 students have benefited from enrollment in classes through DECR, in addition to the thousands of students who got a boost in more than 8,700 tutoring sessions at Waubonsee’s tutoring centers during the 2013-14 school year.

Waubonsee’s DECR team, however, continues to push on toward the goal of improving student outcomes.

The faculty have spearheaded Waubonsee’s outcomes project, reviewing course outcomes and objects and standardizing learning assessments.

The Tutoring Center has received the coveted International Tutor Training Certification through the College Reading and Learning Association.

And DECR administration and faculty have engaged in a self-study as part of the division’s efforts to gain certification through the National Association of Developmental Education.

Rambish said the self-study and certification process will help the division further foster effective student assistance.

“The certification process is important, as we need to examine what we do by comparing it to what we know about the most promising practices in the field,” Rambish said. “Ongoing assessment and self-study is essential to delivering an effective program.”

DECR also will continue to move forward on a host of other initiatives, including work to align developmental goals with Common Core standards; accelerating students through developmental coursework; strengthening College and Career Readiness Partnerships with regional high schools to high school graduation with workplace or college competencies; and implementing a college pathway for English language learners.

As ever, all the work will focus on developing techniques to not only anticipate students’ needs, but to constantly exceed their expectations in achieving their own learning goals.

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