Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nancy Walters


The study explored first-year composition (FYC) success by students who were initially enrolled in developmental English at a public university in the western United States. The study site redesigned its developmental English program to increase time to completion and completion rates of FYC and minimize time to completion of that course by developmental students, yet no evaluation had been conducted to determine the effects of the redesigned program. The framework that supported this study was Adelman’s theory of academic momentum. Using a quantitative nonexperimental, causal-comparative design and census sample, the research question explored two dimensions of FYC completion, including (a) whether the curriculum redesign had decreased time to enrollment in FYC and (b) whether the redesign had decreased the time required to successfully complete FYC (N = 132). An independent samples t test revealed that on average, the post-redesign group (n = 92) enrolled in FYC .89 semesters faster than the pre-redesign group (n = 40), t(160) = 4.91, p < 0.01. For those who completed the FYC, the post-redesign group (n = 92) averaged completing 1.05 semesters faster than the pre-redesign group (n = 38), t(128) = 5.0, p < 0.01. A project position paper supporting the redesign is included with recommendations for continuation of the program, additional research, and other methods of delivering and evaluating developmental education. The study results in positive social change by confirming the efficacy of the redesigned developmental English program and by serving as a model for the evaluation of similar programs in other institutions of higher learning.