“It is What it is”: A Phenomenological Study of Undergraduate Students Enrolled in a Private Institution Who Were Required to Enroll in Zero-Credit Developmental Coursework

Comfort O. Olugbuyi


Developmental coursework is the requirement most higher education institutions in the United States implement to address the academic unpreparedness that challenges many of their students. Previous research identified factors that may contribute to students exiting high school while showing signs of academic gaps. Research indicated that the college requirement of developmental coursework may aid some students; however, it can also harm other students (McCann, 2017; St. Amour, 2019). Results from previous research included adjusting how developmental coursework was offered in regard to sequencing, credit-weight, and modalities of curriculum delivery. However, missing from the equation were the students who attended these courses. This qualitative study amplifies the voices of undergraduate students who are required to enroll in developmental coursework by sharing how that experience shaped their perspectives of college. This study concludes that higher education institutions: (a) need to assist students in navigating academic policies, and (b) need to increase communication with students requiring developmental coursework from application through college graduation. Focusing on these areas can significantly increase the level of persistence toward a college degree.