Much confusion exists between the terms remedial and developmental. The terms are often used interchangeably. However, according to the Professional and Organizational website from Mt. St. Antonio College, CA, specific differences exist between the two terms.

Developmental Education:

    focuses on how a learner learns as well as what is being learned.

    assumes students are at a variety of levels.

    considers the cognitive and affective dynamics of learning.

    includes outside services designed to meet the cognitive and affective needs of students.

    focuses on development of a variety of learning strategies.

    helps students gain their educational/life goals and objectives.

Remedial Education:

    focuses on the skills that need to be learned.

    assumes that because students lack certain skills, they are at one particular level.

    considers only the cognitive dynamic of learning.

    includes outside services designed to meet the cognitive needs of students.

    focuses on learning strategies related to the specific skills that need to be learned.

    helps students master specific academic skills.

MCC Developmental Student:

At Meridian Community College, "developmental students" are any students who score below certain cut-scores on the system's placement test.

MCC mandates that all students have either Accuplacer or ACT scores to determine placement. The scores determine whether a student's skills are at the college level or below the college level.  Classes below the college level are called developmental classes.

Below are some of the reasons a person might test into developmental classes:

        The person has been out of school for a few years and has forgotten the material.

        The person never truly understood the material

        The person has never had the material.

        The person neglected to pay attention or to study in school.

        The person may have certain disabilities that create learning problems.

Although the purpose of the placement test is to place students in classes where they will be successful, often, developmental students become frustrated by the delay in finishing their required courses and obtaining their degrees.

As a tutor, you need to be aware of this frustration level in developmental/remedial students. In addition to the frustration created by mandatory placement, developmental students are frustrated by years of being "out of step" with their peers.

From a Developmental Student's Point of View:

    What is it like to be a developmental student?
    It is like facing a brick wall. You are not allowed to go around the wall. You are not allowed to turn around. You are blocked from advancing and catching up. You are frustrated. You are mad. You may cry. Then, you may give up.
    How did these students come to face the wall?
    Somewhere, somehow, they missed or misunderstood a step in their directions and ran into an obstacle. With each year that passed, that obstacle grew until it became so large, they could never hope to overcome it on their own. No matter what caused the problem or how the obstacle came into their paths, they need help. But, they hate to admit it - even to themselves.

Your Job as a Tutor:

You will meet developmental students who have faced their obstacles, tried to overcome them on their own, and are now ready and happy to receive help. You will also meet students who hate to admit they need help. In tutoring sessions, they may tell you they understand, when they do not. Why? Their ego and self-esteem are at stake.Although you need to know whether someone truly understands the material, you must always make sure to keep your tutee's self-esteem intact. Sometimes, that is all a person has left - and he or she may be barely hanging on to it. Remember, in life, everyone needs help with something. No one is perfect. Each of us, someday, someway, will need help. If a tutee tells you he hates having to ask for help, or if she acts embarrassed or mad, you may want to draw him or her into a conversation in an attempt to relax the student. If you have examples of times you needed help and received it, you may want to share those with students - but only if you feel comfortable with that. You do not need to turn your session into a counseling session, for that is not the purpose of a tutor. However, you will sometimes want to give encouragement.

    To make sure these developmental students understand the material, ask the students to explain the information back to you. This is a standard practice used in tutoring. It is not used only for developmental/remedial students. If students ask why you are doing this, you can explain that it is one of the standard procedures tutors use to reinforce the information in students' minds and to ensure students understand each step of the material.

    One of our goals as a learning center is to teach students how to learn, in order to become life-long learners. You can encourage independent learning by teaching your students the thinking process behind each skill, referring your students to the SSC's other resources, and encouraging your students to engage in questions.  By doing so, you make sure that whether we use the term "remedial" or "developmental," your students are receiving the full spectrum of help that they need.


Proceed To Step 10


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