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Literacy Skills Among Academically Underprepared Students

By: Dolores Perin

Abstract

A review of studies published from 2000 to 2012 was conducted to describe the literacy skills of underprepared postsecondary students, identify teaching approaches designed to bring their skills to the college level, and determine methods of embedding developmental instruction in college-level course work. The studies pinpointed numerous weak areas in students’ skills, but it was found that certain reading and writing processes have been overlooked in the literature. Thirteen studies of the effects of instruction were found, most of which focused on strategy instruction or “meaning-making.” The research tended to lack rigor, but five instructional studies reporting relatively robust data were identified. The main finding of the review is that, because of the lack of a sustained research agenda to date, as well as methodological flaws in existing studies, there is still much to be learned about the literacy skills of underprepared students. Eight areas for future investigation are suggested.

This article was published in Community College Review, vol. 41.