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Resource Corner
David Arendale
Assistant professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, faculty advisor for outreach,

Best and Emerging Practices in Developmental Education and Learning Assistance: An Annotated Bibliography, Part One


This annotated bibliography identifies publications and resources that may be of use to those in the field of developmental education and learning assistance. “Best practices” are policies, principles, standards, guidelines, and procedures that contribute to the highest, most resource-effective, improved student outcomes. Best practices originally were created in business. The business community seeks to learn what leading companies do well and to seek continuous quality improvement, which contributes to higher productivity and profitability. Best practices in developmental education and learning assistance are consistent with current student retention theories, professional standards, contemporary learning theories, and successful replicated implementations with student outcomes that survive rigorous evaluation. “Emerging practices” refers to practices that show great promise for improved student outcomes, but have not been implemented as widely as best practices have been in the past.

Alstete, J. W. (1998). Benchmarking in higher education: Adapting best practices to improve quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Benchmarking is a systematic process for evaluating work processes and recognizing the most efficient practices. This report explores the literature on benchmarking in higher education and discusses its components as a tool for quality improvement.

American Association for Higher Education, American College Personnel Association, & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. (1998). Powerful partnerships: A shared responsibility for learning. Washington, DC: Authors.

This report identifies key factors and exemplary programs associated with higher student outcomes from collaborations between academic and student affairs. Several developmental education programs are featured.

American College Personnel Association, & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. (n.d.). Principles of good practice for student affairs. Washington, DC: Authors. Retrieved April 9, 2005, from

Inspired by Chickering and Gamson's Seven Principles of Good Practice for Undergraduate Education, this document examines the role of student affairs with enhanced learning by undergraduates. In addition to the seven principles, seven inventories allow users to evaluate the degree to which the principles are being effectively implemented at their campus.

Arendale, D. (Ed.). (2005). Postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs annotated bibliography. [Online].

This database identifies more than 700 articles, book chapters, dissertations, and reports related to the six major postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs: Accelerated Learning Groups, Emerging Scholars Program, Peer-Led Team Learning, Supplemental Instruction, Structured Learning Assistance, and Video-based Supplemental Instruction. The documents provide program descriptions, evaluation studies, and identification of critical program features that should be implemented to achieve optimal program and student outcomes. The data are available both through a downloadable report as well as a searchable database.

Arendale, D. R. (2001). Effect of administrative placement and fidelity of implementation of the model on effectiveness of Supplemental Instruction programs. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2000). Dissertation Abstracts International, 62, 93. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED480590). Retrieved June 24, 2004, from

This study examined implementation and impact of Supplemental Instruction (SI), the most widely implemented postsecondary peer cooperative learning program in the U.S. The study identified best practices of SI and key program activities associated with higher student outcomes and satisfaction levels of program with campus administrators.

Astin, A. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This is the landmark book based on the national research findings from the UCLA center directed by Astin that identified student pre-entry attributes, critical activities, and campus culture factors that influenced a wide range of student outcomes. Astin's Input-Environment-Output (IEO) model of program evaluation is the dominant evaluation design for most studies on student outcomes in U.S. postsecondary education.

Boylan, H. R. (1999). Exploring alternatives to remediation. Journal of Developmental Education, 22(3), 2-4, 6, 8, 10. Retrieved July 4, 2006, from

The article addresses issues related to the cost and time investment of providing remedial courses to college students and offers an overview of possible alternatives. Some criticisms of developmental education are examined and countered with evidence from research. Frequently employed current practices are outlined. More recent alternative approaches to course delivery and student support services are then reviewed, and their application to at-risk student needs is discussed. Recommendations for the actual implementation of alternatives are included.  In addition to traditional approaches, developmental educators and developmental programs currently provide a variety of more innovative alternatives. Examples of these alternatives include freshmen seminar/orientation courses (Upcraft, Gardner, & Associates, 1989), Supplemental Instruction (Martin & Arendale, 1994), paired or adjunct courses (Commander, Stratton, Callahan, & Smith, 1996), collaborative learning communities (Tinto, 1997), and critical thinking courses and programs (Chaffee, 1992).

Boylan, H. R. (2002). What works: Research-based best practices in developmental education. Boone, NC: Continuous Quality Improvement Network with the National Center for Developmental Education. A summary of this document retrieved July 4, 2006, from

This document reviews successful, research-based practices in developmental education. The book is based upon the Exxon National Study of Developmental Education which was the most comprehensive study conducted. Best practices were identified through analysis of student outcomes of nearly 150 institutions across the U.S. For example, the following instructional practices were identified as best practices: learning communities; accommodation of diversity through varied instructional methods; use of Supplemental Instruction; providing frequent testing opportunities; use of technology in moderation; providing frequent and timely feedback; use of mastery learning; linking developmental course content to college-level requirements; sharing instructional strategies; teaching critical thinking; teaching learning strategies; using active learning techniques; and using classroom assessment techniques.

Boylan, H., Bliss, L. B., & Bonham, B. S. (1997). Program components and their relationship to student performance. Journal of Developmental Education, 20 (3). Retrieved July 30, 2006, from

This provides a summary of the findings of the Exxon National Survey of Developmental Education as described in the citation above.

Casazza, M. E., & Silverman, S. L. (1996). Learning assistance and developmental education: A guide for effective practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

These authors identify best practices in developmental education and provide examples from exemplary programs across the U.S.

Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy. (2005). Homepage. [Online]. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, University of Minnesota. Retrieved April 9, 2005, from

CRDEUL is a national center for research on practices related to more effective developmental education practices. It publishes an annual monograph on a specific topic related to best practices in DE, a periodic eNewletter, and periodic training workshops and conferences. Monographs and books which can be downloaded include: Theoretical Perspectives for Developmental Education; Histories of Developmental Education; Exploring Urban Literacy and Developmental Education; Multiculturalism in Developmental Education; Best Practices in Access and Retention in Higher Education; Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation (MAP-IT); and Curriculum Transformation and Disability (CTAD): Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education. CRDEUL recently published The General College Vision: Integrating Intellectual Growth, Multicultural Perspectives, and Student Development. This 600-page book identifies best practices in developmental education that were implemented throughout the curriculum and student services at General College at the University of Minnesota.

Chickering, A., & Ehrmann, S. C. (1996). Implementing the seven principles: Technology as lever. AAHE Bulletin, pp. 3-6. Retrieved April 9, 2005, from

This article describes how to use computers, video, and telecommunications technologies to advance Chickering and Gameson's Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.

Chickering, A. & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Washington, DC: American Association of Higher Education. Retrieved April 9, 2005, from Descriptive booklet and inventories available from the Seven Principles Resource Center.

The principles and three associated inventories (faculty, institutional, student) are identified for increasing the quality of undergraduate education. These documents allow an institution to conduct a self-evaluation of the learning climate on campus and serve to foster discussion on how to improve.

Christ, F. L. (Ed.). (2005). Learning Support Centers in Higher Education. [Online]. Retrieved August 23, 2005, from

The LSCHE Web site is the only one devoted exclusively to learning support centers in higher education. The site provides best practices in such centers. A variety of bibliographies, articles, reviews, and other materials provide a practical model for implementing an exemplary center.

Christ, F. L., Sheets, R. A., & Smith, K. G. (Eds.). (2000). Starting a learning assistance center. Clearwater, FL: H & H Publishing.

This practical book identifies best practices for implementation of a learning assistance center. The chapters are authored by national leaders in this movement.

Clark-Thayer, S. (Ed.). (1995). NADE self-evaluation guides: Models for assessing learning assistance/ developmental education programs. Clearwater, FL: H&H Publishing.

These guides were field tested with programs across the U.S. and identify best practices for tutoring, adjunct instructional programs, developmental education courses, and the teaching/learning process. A new edition with updated and expanded best practices in each of these areas will be available in Spring 2007.

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