Unprepared Colleges and Universities Need A Self-Evaluation (Part 3 of 5: The Beginning of Information Illiteracy)

Part 3 of a 5 part series – The Beginning of Information Illiteracy. See Part 1 and Part 2.


High school students are not guaranteed success in college when they have completed college-preparatory courses (Conley, p. 4). Preparation for the graduate would come from their high school’s curriculum that would: (a) measure student academic progress; (b) observe the methods in which states, districts, schools, principals, and teachers are educating students; and (c) observe teachers’ adjusting their educating styles (DOE, 2010 p. 8). In high school English, mathematics, and science courses, students have not been taught how “to draw inferences, interpret results, analyze conflicting source documents, support arguments with evidence, solve complex problems that have no obvious answer, draw conclusions, offer explanations, conduct research, and generally think deeply about what they are being taught” (Conley, 2007c, p. 23).


Through the data that colleges and universities obtain from the placement test, institutions could be shown what the students need to be college ready. Placement tests and student records would be able to tell school administrators what courses the students had taken and what credit they had received. Every year there will be between 16% and 40% entering freshmen who are unprepared for college level courses (Boylan, 2001, p.3). This will happen in any institution. Their unpreparedness can range from lack of development in “their writing skils, and many need to develop their mathematics skills” (Boylan, 2001, p. 3). Tutoring, workshops, or individualized instruction could help some of the developmental education placed students.

Institutions would need to also emphasize faculty and staff learning from each other through a collaborative effort. This would be through a self-evaluation of the institution and a collection of “data about goal achievement; most colleges do not understand, or fail to make, the critical links between goal and expected outcomes in identifying the appropriate data to be collected”(Roueche and Roueche, 2003, p. 8). Once placed into the developmental education course track from the placement tests, the students would need mandatory completion of those course in order to be prepared for college level courses.

The under prepared entry-level college student is in this condition because they do not understand the difference between college and high school (Conley, 2010b). These students are adults and not children. They must be responsible for their actions.

College allows these students to practice and increase their skills that they had learned in the high school and lower levels. It is a time of transition that takes high school competence and builds it up to college readiness (Conley, 2007c). Some college courses are sometimes called the same name as some of the high school courses. What the students are not prepared for is the fast pace in which they are taught a large coverage of material in a short amount of time. Students would have to adjust in making critical thinking and analysis of collected data.


Developmental education courses and academic success in those courses are linked when professional development and trained staff are a part of the learning process (Boylan, Bliss, Bonham & Claxton, 1992). The effectiveness of individual program components of developmental education programs would need to increase. The following are the components: instruction; counseling; tutoring (Boylan, Bliss, & Bonham, 1994).

Studies at La Guardia Community College (Chaffee, 1992) had shown that teaching critical thinking helped the under-prepared students. Courses, programs, and activities designed to enhance critical thinking improved students’ performance in reading and writing (Chaffee, 1992). Students were satisfied with the course content when the course used critical thinking (Harris & Eleser, 1997).

Published with permission of the author – Lorette S.J. Weldon, EdD, Creator and Teacher of Learning and Teaching Memory and Study Skills: The Way to Information Literacy.


  • Aarons, D. I. (2009). Enthusiasm builds for data systems. Education Week, 28(34), 18-19.
  • Adelman, C. (2008). Accountability “light”: Our version is going the way of the dollar vs. the euro. Liberal Education, 94(4), 6-13.
  • Boylan, H. (2001). Making the case for developmental education. Research in Developmental Education, 12(2), 1-4. <liBoylan, H. (2002). What works: Research-based best practices in developmental education. Boone, NC: Continuous Quality Improvement Network with the National Center for Developmental Education.
  • Boylan, H. R. & Bonham, B. S. (2011). Seven myths about developmental education. Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, 27(2), 29-36.
  • Boylan, H., Bliss, L., & Bonham, B. (1994). National study of developmental education: Characteristics of faculty and staff. Paper presented at the National Association for Developmental Education Conference. Retrieved from http://www.ncde.appstate.edu/reservereading/Outcomes_of Remediation.htm
  • Boylan, H., Bliss, L., Bonham, B., & Claxton, C. (1992). The state of the arts in developmental education. Paper presented at the First National Conference on Research in Developmental Education, Charlotte, NC. Retrieved from http://www.ncde.appstate.edu/ reserve_reading/Outcomes of Remediation.htm
  • Boylan, H. R., & Bonham, B. S. (2007). 30 years of developmental education: A retrospective. Journal of Developmental Education, 30(3), 2-4.
  • Chaffee, J. (1992). Critical thinking skills: The cornerstone of developmental education. Journal of Developmental Education, 15(3), 2-8, 39. Conley, D. (2007c). The challenge of college readiness. Educational Leadership, 64(7), 23–29.
  • Conley, D. (2008b). Rethinking college readiness. New England Journal of Higher Education, 22(5), 24–26.
  • Conley, D. (2010a). Eligible and ready for college. Principal Leadership, 18–22.
  • Conley, D. (2010b). Replacing remediation with readiness. Invitational conference on developmental education sponsored by the National Center for Postsecondary Research. New York, NY.
  • Conley, D. (2010c). College and career ready: Helping all students succeed beyond high school. San Francisco, CA.
  • Department of Education (DOE). (2010). A blueprint for reform: The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Washington, DC.
  • Harris, J., & Eleser, C. (1997). Developing critical thinking: Melding two imperatives. Journal of Developmental Education, 21(1), 12-19.
  • Los Medanos College. (2011). Developmental education program. Retrieved from http://www.losmedanos.edu/deved/studentsupport.asp
  • MiraCosta College. (2011). Developmental skills initiative. Retrieved from http://www.miracosta.edu/instruction/english/developmentalskillsinitiative.html
  • Obama, B. (2011). President Obama calls on Congress to fix No Child Left Behind before the start of the next school year. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/03/14/president-obama-calls-congress-fix-no-child-left-behind-start-next-schoo
  • Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability. (2007). Steps can be taken to reduce remediation rates; 78% of Community College Students, 10% of University Students Need Remediation. Report No. 06-40. Retrieved from http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/reports/pdf/0640rpt.pdf
  • Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Roueche, J. E. & Roueche, S.D. (2003). Making remedial education work: Community colleges still have a long way to go to meet the needs of at-risk students. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education & Accreditation, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/remedial.pdf
Posted in: Education