Community College FAQs

Some interesting facts from Community College Research Center about the number of students country-wide who place into developmental education, the number who complete  developmental courses, the cost of developmental education, as well as  the use of placement testing in developmental education.  I found that piece the most surprising.  Accuuplacer is one of the two placement tests used to place students into appropriate courses. The question is, ” how accurate is accuplacer”?  One CCRC study of a statewide community college system found that the ACCUPLACER severely misplaces 33 percent of entering community college students.

A much better predictor of success in courses comes from looking at high school transcripts.

Click on the link below to read  the CCRC findings in more detail.



Community College FAQs.

Examples of Curious Questions

In my last posting, I talked about using curious questions with students to help them discover their goals.  Here is a list of curious questions you might try asking:


Curious Questions



  • What concerns you most about…?
  • What could you do right now that might help you get unstuck?
  • What’s most important to you about this right now?
  • What would you like help thinking through?
  • How is this affecting you?
  • What is really important to you in this situation?
  • How is this working out?
  • What might that mean to you?
  • What else would you like to tell me about it?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • How can you find out more about it?
  • What is important to you about this goal?
  • What do you think is best?
  • Where do you go from here?
  • What’s most important to you about this right now?





  • What could you do to improve the situation even a little?
  • What is really important to you in this situation?
  • What is important to you about this goal?
  • What’s humorous about the situation?
  • What might that mean for you?
  • What are your thoughts about how to manage the situation?
  • What other ideas do you have about it?
  • What are your next steps?
  • What are some other options?
  • If you had your choice, what would you do?
  • Who else on campus could you talk with about this?
  • What do you want?

Developing a Different Mindset

Recently I participated in a workshop given by three coaches from Landmark College.  The title was Using Non-Directive Techniques to Empower Students.  The coaching model used at Landmark and in schools and colleges, in general, is based upon the premise that we are all creative, resourceful, and whole.  From this, the job of the coach/advisor is to help the student identify and achieve goals based on knowing and valuing oneself.

As I think about the idea that students are creative, resourceful, and whole, I realize how often, in my work, I don’t fully operate from this belief.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  In meetings, my colleagues and I find ourselves complaining about what the students don’t seem to possess in the way of both academic and non-academic skills.  From this “deficit” viewpoint, it’s hard to trust that students really are resourceful, creative, and whole and that they have the ability to direct themselves towards their goals.  Continue reading

The Call to Change the Face of Developmental Education

Too many students fail to complete their developmental classes.  This is particularly true the more courses a student is required to take before they can take college courses.


The Charles A. Dana Center, Education Commission of the States, Jobs for the Future and Complete College America just released a report recommending core principles that outline the direction we need to head in to help our students start their college level courses sooner.   Remediation_Joint_Statement-Embargo

Matching Value and Expectation: The Key to Motivation

Last week in my college success class, we were talking about motivation.  I use Skip Downing’s On Course with this class and he defines motivation as being made up of value and expectation (M=V x E).  When I asked each student the percentage of value they place on getting an education, they all said 90-100%.  When they were asked about their expectations for success, the percentage dropped to 70-80.  So while all of them valued education most were less convinced that they would actually succeed.

This was a clear example that the value students place on their education isn’t enough.  They also need to believe they have the skills and abilities to be successful.  That’s the harder part especially for my students who have   dropped out of high school, received GEDs, and are coming to college with extreme academic and personal challenges.   It’s no wonder they don’t expect to succeed.


What can we do?  I believe that it’s critical to find ways for these students, and all students, to experience success no matter how big.  Students in my class have made it through almost the first half of the semester.  They’ve watched others drop out not because they didn’t have the ability, but because they didn’t stay long enough to actually experience success.  Some even sabotaged their chance of success by not handing in homework, not studying, etc.

For those students who are still here, they are seeing that their efforts are paying off.  They are handing in work, writing papers, taking small steps to get through a math quiz.  With each success, I can see them growing more self-confident, but I know it’s tenuous.

We, as teachers, must find a way to challenge our students while providing them the scaffolding to be successful.  It doesn’t mean handing out A’s.  It does mean giving them multiple opportunities to be evaluated and to show mastery.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about ways to help our students increase their expectaions for success so that it comes closer to the value they place on college.