Perceptions of classroom dynamics by developmental studies students at a two-year technical college
Davis, Daisy Walker
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According to McCabe (2000), helping academically deficient students to learn the skills needed for college has been a feature of American education for decades. Ninety-five percent of community colleges offer developmental studies courses. Forty-one percent of students entering community college and 29% of all entering college students are underprepared in at least one of the basic skills courses of reading, writing, and mathematics. Thus, educational programs are created to provide developmental education and support services for the underprepared college students. The programs enrolls more than a half a million people each year helping them to gain academic skills necessary to succeed in college and to become positive contributors to society. One way to help this special group of students to become successful involves assessing what they see and feel in classroom environment settings. Demographic characteristics, a mixture of diverse characteristics, and relationships with instructors as well as other students can often affect classroom perceptions and learning outcomes. The broad purpose of the study was to understand how developmental studies students perceive classroom dynamics and why different students view classroom environments differently. The instrument used to measure students’ perceptions was a composite instrument in which was embedded the Classroom Dynamics Questionnaire (Valentine, Oliva, and Thomas, 2002), the Educational Experience Scale (Kim, 1993), and the Identification with Academics Scale (Osborne, 1997). The study sample consisted of 645 students enrolled in 34 developmental studies English, reading, and mathematics classes at a technical college in the southeastern United States. Bivariate and multiple regression analyses were conducted to discover the best explanation for observed variance in four dimensions of classroom dynamics, namely, teacher respect for students, student confidence in the teacher’s ability, learner voice in the classroom , and learner cohesion in the classroom. Analyses revealed that demographics variables of race, age, gender, and income, had no predictive power in classroom perceptions. However, the variables past educational experiences, educational attainment, and identification with academics were significant predictors for the four dimensions of classroom dynamics. These findings provide practical contributions for educational practitioners who wish to better understand the way students view their educational experiences.