Michael C. McConnell
Michael C. McConnell is the editor of the Texas Developmental Education Professional Community Online (TX DEPCO) blog and monograph, the editor of the Journal of College Academic Support Programs (J-CASP), and a doctoral student in developmental education at Texas State University.
Quality teaching garners notable attention, especially the difference such makes in the success of students who are unprepared for credit-bearing post-secondary courses—such as students who are in developmental education (DE) courses—flourishing throughout classrooms due to teachers staying abreast of best practices (Gaal, 2014; Smith, 2010). Effective professional development (PD) opportunities contribute to practitioners addressing these students’ basic cognitive needs as well as non-cognitive needs. The facilitation of professional-learning-community engagement for practitioners—who, likewise, might be underprepared pedagogically to interface with, mentor, and instruct students challenged by college-level work—could help said practitioners to guide or even catapult their students toward academic, career, and financial success; and an improved quality of life (Bailey, 2009; Capt, 2011).
PD that emphasizes quality teaching practices imperative to student success, academic-transfer, matriculation, and career-placement—as well as flexible and accessible practitioner professionalization opportunities—have served as goals for the Texas Developmental Education Professional Community Online (TX DEPCO) as an avenue for practitioners to feature professional insights for the benefit and growth of likeminded colleagues. The TX DEPCO has extended from the Texas Success Initiative Professional Development (TSI PD) Program, perpetuated and managed by The Education Institute at Texas State University and funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The TX DEPCO blog arose from the following TSI PD Program request-for-proposals verbiage: “Trainings that promote and reinforce promising practice research and strategies must be made available to administrators, full- and adjunct faculty, advisors, tutors, and lab personnel whose focus is the increased attainment of underprepared learners.” The TX DEPCO has sustained with the goal of disseminating promising practices from DE practitioners in and beyond Texas whose insights and observations suggest and relate to the context of DE, college-readiness, and post-secondary success.
The TX DEPCO blog’s grant-funded publishing cycle has culminated into a peer-reviewed monograph of select expanded blog articles, officially released in print form at the 2017 College Academic Support Programs (CASP) conference and archived in PDF form thereafter. Everyone involved has helped build the momentum for further publishing solutions to exist for DE in Texas, such as the Journal of College Academic Support Programs (J-CASP), sponsored and funded by the Texas Chapter of the College Reading and Learning Association (TxCRLA), the Texas Association for Developmental Education (TADE), and the Graduate Program in Developmental Education at Texas State University. The J-CASP continues the TX DEPCO’s publishing momentum by featuring and disseminating both peer-reviewed scholarly articles and non-peer-reviewed, practitioner-based promising practices.
As evidenced through the TX DEPCO blog analytics, provided by WordPress, viewers from institutions of higher education (IHE) throughout Texas and the nation have accessed the site. Some users have accessed the site—resources such as the conference schedules, bibliography of scholarly articles, links page, online PD modules provided through the TSI PD Program, and promising-practices practitioner features—from mobile devices in places where quality PD might not be available in-person without a discouraging, non-flexible, and/or inaccessible commute.
The authors featured in the 25 published TX DEPCO articles over the past two years—from the first featured author in March 2016 to present—represent a myriad of reflective promising practices designed by DE practitioners for DE practitioners. While the stipulations have been somewhat slim and digestible—with a 300-500-word count with somewhat minimal scholarly citation: 1-3 or more reputable references—the idea and format of the promising practices might serve as a stepping-stone toward further critical examination.
If the authors featured in this publishing venture have or feel as if they have further professionalized due to these contributions to the DE field—whether through an increased sense of confidence, or tangible professional opportunities—or if practitioner accessibility to these promising practices has influenced positive and productive student outcomes, then such are goals underscoring the TX DEPCO. These are desirable outcomes that can transform promising practices into publishing solutions.
Bailey, T. (2009). Challenge and opportunity: Rethinking the role and function of developmental education in community college. New Directions for Community Colleges, 145, 11-30.
Capt, R. (2011). Texas community colleges’ developmental education mission. PBandJ, 2(2), 22-29.
Gaal, J. S. (2014). Making the case for structured professional development: Will it positively impact student outcomes at the post-secondary level? International Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 22(2), 93-103.
Smith, C. (2010). The great dilemma of improving teacher quality in adult learning and literacy. Adult Basic Education & Literacy Journal. 4(2), 67-74