Home > College of Education, Faculty, FSU EdNews > FSU faculty receives initial research funding to study changes to developmental education

FSU faculty receives initial research funding to study changes to developmental education


Studying Developmental Education Reform in the Sunshine State
Dramatic changes to developmental education in Florida to be studied by a team of researchers from Florida State University with initial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
March 7, 2014

A research team at Florida State University (FSU), led by professor of Higher Education Dr. Shouping Hu, has received initial funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the comprehensive reform in developmental education in the State of Florida. Other faculty researchers on the project include Dr. David Tandberg and Dr. Toby Park, both assistant professors at FSU.

The Legislation
Through Senate Bill 1720, the Florida legislature drastically restructured developmental education placement and instruction. The new law mandates that the 28 state colleges (formerly the community colleges) in the Florida College System provide developmental education that is more tailored to the needs of students. The law gives students much more flexibility in terms of whether they enroll in developmental education and what options they can choose from if they need it. Some students who previously would have tested into developmental education will be able to skip it altogether. The methods for offering developmental education will change too, as instruction is to be offered in ways that move students quickly into college credit, using co-requisite instruction, modules, and tutoring. Colleges have received additional flexibility in placing students and college placement testing will no longer be required for most Florida public high school graduates. Finally, admission counseling, with regard to available options, is mandated for all incoming students.

The Project
The FSU research project will document the implementation process of the new legislation and assess the impact of the new developmental education reform on student progression and success. Specifically, the FSU research team intends to study how the Florida state colleges are implementing the reform measures outlined in Senate Bill 1720 and the underlying decision rationales in approaches to advising and developmental education offerings. The team also seeks to understand the patterns of student choice related to developmental education options and the effects of student choices on educational progression and success.

According to Dr. Hu, “This is the most significant state law affecting developmental education that we are aware of anywhere in the country. Because of its sweeping nature, it is critical that we begin documenting and evaluating its impact from the very beginning so that state legislatures and educational leaders here in Florida and other states have credible and timely evidence to further improve educational policies and practices.”

  1. Dr. Carlene Thornton, Adjunct Faculty, University of West Florida
    July 9, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    This is important research and Dr. Hu, Dr. Tandberg and Dr. Park are to be congratulated on designing the research and successfully applying for funding. Thanks, too, are certainly due to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation!!

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