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ERIC Number: ED533875
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 44
Abstractor: As Provided
The Quandaries of Basic Skills in Community Colleges: Views from the Classroom. An NCPR Working Paper
Grubb, W. Norton
National Center for Postsecondary Research, Paper prepared for the NCPR Developmental Education Conference (New York, NY, Sep 23-24, 2010)
Basic skills courses are designed to teach students certain basic academic competencies they have not mastered. However, very little research has examined the quality of instruction inside basic skills classes. This paper presents preliminary findings from observations in 13 California community colleges. The clearest finding is that "remedial pedagogy" predominates--this is a pedagogy involving drill and practice on small sub-skills, stressing correct answers rather than conceptual understanding, with very little contextualization. Innovation usually occurs when individual instructors develop idiosyncratic practices or in the few cases where departments have organized to develop non-remedial approaches, but the college is rarely the locus of innovation. In addition, basic skills students are enormously heterogeneous, complicating the challenges of instruction, and most student support seems relatively weak. These findings help to explain why basic skills instruction is so often ineffective. Appended are: (1) Figures; and (2) The UCB/RP Study of Basic Skills in California Community Colleges. (Contains 2 figures and 26 footnotes.)
National Center for Postsecondary Research. Teachers College, Columbia University, Box 174, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Department of Education (ED); William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Authoring Institution: National Center for Postsecondary Research (ED)
Identifiers - Location: California