Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Student experiences of the community college developmental writing classroom

Janet Kirchner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The low success rate of students in community college developmental education classes has caused not only institutions and their instructors but also those outside of the classroom to search for alternative programs and delivery methods to improve student outcomes. As college completion rates become increasingly tied to state funding, many community colleges are re-thinking their programs, considering acceleration of coursework, learning communities, and supplemental instruction as replacements for the traditional developmental sequence. While these programs have shown success in some community colleges, much of the research is quantitative in nature and based on completion rates. The purpose of this study is to lend an instructor's and students' voices to the conversation on developmental education. The study focuses on one community college developmental writing classroom for one term. Through student stories, the study reveals community college students' challenges and strengths, adding to the understanding of what causes some students to succeed while others fail. The study is a narrative inquiry, with data drawn from field notes, interviews, student writing, and instructor journal writing. Chapters include stories of racial and social tension in the classroom, challenges of overcoming previous negative schooling experiences, resistance to classroom procedures and requirements, difficulties in shifting from refugee camp schooling to college expectations, and student determination despite overwhelming challenges. The student stories reveal a changing population in one suburban Midwestern community college and help provide a context for conversations about curriculum and program revisions.

Subject Area

Community college education|Teacher education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Kirchner, Janet, "Student experiences of the community college developmental writing classroom" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618268.