Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this study was to assess the characteristics and impact of developmental courses on students enrolled in developmental mathematics and English courses at a small mid-Western tribal college. This was a quantitative, descriptive study of the courses and the students over a six year timeframe.

All students who enrolled in developmental mathematics and English courses at Sitting Bull College during the summer of 2003 through the spring of 2009 were included in this study. There were 289 students in the Foundations Math and English courses in this timeframe.

Females made up 60% of the students studied who had average age of 26.7 years at the time they first enrolled at the college. The students started college with a high school diploma (54%), a General Equivalency Diploma (26.7%), or neither (19.3%) for a semester. The students were placed based on scores in four content areas on COMputer-adaptive Placement Assessment and Support Services tests or the Test of Adult Basic Education. The students were enrolled an average of four semesters, with a range of 1 to 16 semesters.

Students who were enrolled only one semester represented 39% of the study group. Students took from one to four semesters to successfully complete each course. The success rate (passing the course with a grade of C or above) for the courses were Foundations math (37%), Foundations English (43%), English I (52%), and Pre-Algebra (46%). The remaining students either withdrew or failed the course.

There were 18 graduates during the study timeframe, and 43 students from the study remained enrolled during the Fall of 2009. These low numbers support using other variables as measures of success for students who are placed in developmental coursework.

One placement test and one study cannot possibly tell the entire story of the students who are placed in developmental coursework. However, this study provides a beginning to examine what occurs at one tribal college. This research may also serve as an incentive to study other areas of the curriculum and support services at tribal colleges.

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