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remedial teaching, literacy programs, educational evaluation, college students, academic skills


Postsecondary degree-granting institutions recognize that students lack necessary academic skills, but the characteristics of this at-risk population have not been as clearly identified. As well, the value of remedial programs that serve this at-risk population need to be investigated.

The survey instruments for this study were developed by the researcher. The purpose of the study was to examine the skills, attitudes, and perceptions of basic writers of a remedial writing course Academic Skills Center (ASK 060) at a private Midwestern college. Specifically, this study identified the value of the remedial writing program related to perceived level of competence and academic performance. The freshmen survey items included perceived levels of competence compared to GPA, before and after completing the course. The senior survey was comprised of two open-ended questions evaluating the course, both positively and negatively, as students reflected on its value to their academic career. As well, GPAs and writing samples for both groups of seniors were compared to assess value of the program. A total of291 students from ASK (n = 25), former ASK (n = 15), and non-ASK seniors (n = 251) participated.

The study produced four primary findings. First, higher perceived levels of competence were significantly correlated to higher GPAs for freshmen before and after completing the remedial course. Second, GPA comparisons between former ASK and non-ASK seniors were significantly correlated with non-ASK seniors possessing higher GPAs. Third, the majority of former ASK students indicated that grammar usage and proofreading were the two most valuable skills retained and used throughout their academic career while the majority indicated that learning writing styles was not beneficial. Finally, when scored writing samples of former ASK and non-ASK seniors were examined, no significant differences in scores were indicated by the data.


  • A dissertation submitted to the graduate faculty of the University of South Dakota in partial fulfillment for the degree of DOCTOR OF EDUCATION
  • Dr. Lisa Hazlett, Committee Chairperson
  • © 2005 William P. Elgersma