At the September board meeting, Waubonsee Community College recognized its Developmental Education program and faculty for embodying the college's mission of providing exceptional learning in critical areas of developmental reading, writing, math, and other courses through accessible, innovative, and equitable education.
Because developmental courses do not count toward a degree or certificate, Waubonsee has taken numerous approaches to evaluate, reform, and improve outcomes to best serve students and prepare them to meet their educational goals.
"Our goal is to get students to the college level as fast as possible,” said Jessica Moreno, Dean for Academic Support.
In the fall of 2018, Waubonsee began implementing a series of strategic changes to reduce the time needed for students to complete their goals such as, combining related courses into one (e.g. Integrated Reading and Writing), rolling out "co-requisites” or "co-reqs," and providing an increased sense of belonging for first-generation college students to help them persist toward their goals.
Waubonsee is committed to reworking a system that has traditionally prescribed a block of developmental courses to students. “We want to place students at the highest level possible based on their skill and provide increasing opportunities for them to take college-level courses by their second semester,” said Moreno.
Recent requirements from the Illinois Community College Board have directed colleges across Illinois to report how well their developmental education reforms are working. Waubonsee has championed initiatives long before these requirements by assessing testing tools. This spring, the college will begin conversations that can potentially lead to the adoption of a new placement tool for math, along with reviewing developmental education English scores.
One of the benefits that has come from developmental education reform across the state is the opportunity to improve outcomes for students. Moreno believes that momentum has forced practitioners to deepen their understanding of who is impacted by developmental education and the gaps this has created in overall student outcomes. “I feel honored to work with a team of faculty who keep their finger on the pulse and are willing to come together to discuss and reimagine what developmental education can look like in coming years,” said Moreno.
Moreno, who started her college career taking developmental courses as a non-native English speaker, believes developmental education is foundational to accelerating academic and career preparedness.
"Most people do not know that I am a by-product and a success story of developmental education," said Moreno. "We recognize the disparity of tools that have caused students of color to more likely be labeled as not being college ready, but we must decisively remove this stigma and recognize the value and role that dedicated developmental faculty play in helping students define college readiness according to their individual needs and goals.”
The Developmental Education faculty form a powerful connection with students and can personally assess what students genuinely need. They offer intentional inclusion of culture into the classroom to instill confidence in navigating academic environments. Through planned social learning experiences, marginalized students are empowered to form an affinity-based learning community with their peers, leading to greater resolve towards completion.
Waubonsee's Developmental Education courses provide a personalized curriculum to strengthen habits of mind and the Developmental Education program intentionally embeds wraparound services and awareness of campus resources into the classroom experience. These interventions help equip students for success in their college experience. To learn more about Waubonsee’s courses that prepare students to be college ready, visit waubonsee.edu/developmentaleducation.
Pictured above (from left to right): Dr. Diane Nyhammer, Vice President of Educational Affairs; Dr. Christine J. Sobek, President of Waubonsee Community College; Ellen Field, Professor of Mathematics Developmental Education; Maribeth Brown, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Developmental Education; Jessica Moreno, Dean for Academic Support; Melissa Morgan, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Developmental Education; Jo Lynn Theobald, Associate Professor of Mathematics Developmental Education; Teri Fuller, Professor of English Developmental Education; Ms. Rebecca Oliver, Chair of the Board of Trustees