Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Vicki L. Underwood


Developmental education is the starting point for many 1st-year college students, especially from underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation populations. One such 1st-year program linked block-scheduled academic skill-development courses with a required interdisciplinary general education science course where instruction was provided simultaneously in a lecture format to college-ready nondevelopmental students and developmental students in three skill-development courses: reading, writing, and combined reading/writing. Although this program had existed for over 20 years, the effectiveness of the program, meaning whether the linked skill-development courses were associated with academic success, had not been assessed. Guided by Tinto’s integration theory, a causal comparative design with the chi-square test for independent samples was used to determine if there were differences in passing rates for a census sample totaling 505 developmental and nondevelopmental students in the science course for the fall semesters, 2008 to 2012. Chi-square was significant, χ2(3) = 19.481, p < .001; Cramer’s V = .196 reflected a small to medium effect size. Post hoc pairwise tests of two proportions indicated the science passing rates for the reading (73%, n = 171), writing (73%, n = 46), and combined reading/writing group (68%, n = 107) did not differ from each other but were significantly lower than the nondevelopmental group (85%, n = 181). Results may lead to a review of linked courses in the 1st-year program to determine if changes are needed to assist in meeting the needs of developmental students to persist and graduate, and may be used by other higher education institutions to develop strategies such as linked block schedules to assist students to be successful in school and in life.