Promising Practices in Developmental Education: The TX DEPCO Monograph


Funded by the Higher Education Coordinating Board and under the management of The Education Institute at Texas State University, the Texas Developmental Education Professional Community Online (TX DEPCO) is proud to release to the public Promising Practices in Developmental Education.

This scholarly monograph is a selection from the TX DEPCO featured practitioners, who expanded their promising practices in terms of content and scholarly rigor for peer review. The printed version of Promising Practices debuted at CASP 2017 in Galveston this past October, but the archived version is available for free from the TEI website or here for immediate download: Promising Practices_TX DEPCO Monograph_2017.

Thank you again for all of the authors and readers involved in the TX DEPCO’s publishing cycle.




Publishing Solutions


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

Technology + Pedagogy Guide: Bringing Method to the Madness


Shaunna Smith, Ed.D.

Dr. Smith is an Assistant Professor of Educational Technology in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. Her research interests focus on technology integration strategies within K–12 and post-secondary learning environments. As a former secondary art teacher, she is particularly interested in exploring how the hands-on use of design-based technologies (e.g., digital fabrication, 3D modeling and printing, computer programming, and robotics) can impact multidisciplinary learning that transcends traditional content contexts. At her mobile makerspace, The MAKE Lab, she is currently researching how recurring experiences with these design-based technologies impact self-efficacy and positive attitudes toward failure (e.g., grit and persistence in the face of obstacles; reconceptualization of failure as a paradigm for creative learning) with teachers and K–12 students.

It is easy for educators to get lost in the madness of the overwhelming number of instructional options and technology tools available today. If we aren’t careful, we can easily become the Alice who falls down the rabbit hole into a technology wonderland, quickly becoming enamored and sidetracked with every tool as they get “curiouser and curiouser,” discouraged by the Mad Hatter who suggests a new approach to everything we’ve been doing, or frightened by the Queen of Hearts who suggests that change is unwelcome. As educators, our time is precious, and we need to be mindful of our productivity; however, we also need to learn how to leverage our own individualized knowledge and easily accessible technology in order to enhance our instruction and student learning potential.

Although published before digital technology was commonplace in education, Shulman’s (1987) theories of “pedagogical reasoning” and “pedagogical content knowledge” remind us that a teacher must remain focused on their instructional intent and interconnectedness to subject matter. Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) draws upon Shulman’s theories by adding considerations of technological knowledge and its connections to pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge, thus creating a context for discussing the new complexities of considerations that teachers must contend with. Content connections are found relatively easily with textbook companion websites and the like; however, making a meaningful connection between technology and pedagogy can be a little bit more complicated.

Designed as a helpful decision-making tool, the Technology + Pedagogy Guide can aid educators in instructional planning of activities that integrate instructionally appropriate technology tools to support a variety of learning contexts (the complete Technology + Pedagogy guide is available at: Table 1 shows how it organizes commonly accessible and free technology tools into categories related to their essential characteristics (tool affordances) and ability to align with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002) to support student-centered learning objectives:


(Tool Affordances and Instructional Purpose)


(Learning Objectives)

Acquisition & Investigation Tools Technology tools that allow users to capture and collect information. Remembering
Presentation & Remixing Tools Technology tools that allow users to demonstrate understanding of concepts through original expression or through remixing (editing existing content by putting a new ‘spin’ on it). Understanding


Discussion & Reflection Tools Technology tools that allow users to communicate ideas and experiences with self and/or others. Analyzing


Creation & Editing Tools Technology tools that allow users to generate original artifacts to demonstrate personally meaningful knowledge. Creating

Acquisition and Investigation tools
assist learners in capturing and collecting information, which is appropriate for instructional goals that align with the lower-level Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy levels of Remembering. This category of tool is perfect for the beginning stages of research projects when you want students to capture and collect information related to a topic. Leveraging digital functionality, students can use these technology tools to complete individual assignments or to co-construct as a collaborative group, with the added benefit of even being able to communicate across time and space — beyond the four walls of your classroom.

Presentation and Remixing tools assist learners in demonstrating their understanding of concepts through altering existing content and application of concepts through presenting information to others. This category is appropriate for instructional goals that align with the Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy levels of Understanding and Applying. This category of tool is perfect for brainstorming ideas and organizing concepts or presenting proposals to the class. Leveraging digital functionality, these tools can easily be worked on outside of class and can be shared with others through using URL links.

Discussion and Reflection tools assist learners in communicating ideas and experiences to themselves and/or others. This category is appropriate for instructional goals that align with the middle levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy levels for Analyzing and Evaluating. This category of tool can be used to inspire diverse perspectives throughout an on-going learning module or project, as well as a culminating reflection to examine personal learning at the end of the semester. Leveraging digital functionality, these tools can easily take advantage of the ability to “comment” and “reply” to student posts as well as share URL links of creations to spark further dialogue.

Creation and Editing tools assist learners in generating original artifacts to demonstrate their own personally meaningful knowledge. This category is appropriate for instructional goals that align with the highest levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy levels for Creating. This category of tool can be used to support smaller scale creative activities throughout a module or can be expanded to allow students to explore open-ended original artifact creation. Leveraging digital functionality, these tools can easily take advantage of the wide variety of free tools that can allow students to create a wide variety of media (i.e. photo editing, videography, 3D modeling, computer programming) but also easily share online with others.


Given the right level of support, even technology novices who are overwhelmed by the initial madness of this technology wonderland can transition into becoming confident and effective technology integrators who can select tools to amplify and transform their teaching. Through using the Technology + Pedagogy Guide, educators can focus on student-centered pedagogies by recognizing the categorical affordances and characteristics of the tools. In doing so, educators can develop a more richly constructed transference of knowledge by having an essential understanding of what qualities to look for in the ever-changing palette of technology tools in order to match pedagogical goals that will remain relevant as the technologies continue to evolve.


Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-22.