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Beverly Dile has spent a good part of her life dedicated to the service of students who need an extra boost when transitioning to a higher-learning institution.
And her work is gaining statewide attention.
Dile, coordinator of the developmental education department at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, was recognized last month, receiving the Belva Sammons Award for Distinguished Service from the Kentucky Association of Developmental Education. Dile was nominated by her department.
Dile said she believes the size and success of ECTC’s developmental education department and its success in online classes led to her nomination and in earning the award. The department, which educates students in need of foundation classes before taking credit-bearing college courses, offers 200 course sections every year. The success rate of students in English 101 after taking a developmental English course is a 70 percent pass rate, which is slightly higher than the pass rate of students who take English 101 immediately in college.
About half of those 200 course sections are offered online as well. Online developmental courses were pioneered by Dile in the state of Kentucky, she said. Most developmental educators didn’t think students in those courses would be successful in an online environment, she said, but Dile wanted to try.
“I just didn’t see any reason why they couldn’t,” she said.
In 2000, she started the first online developmental course and online offerings have grown from there.
“But we have proven that it does” work, she said.
Dile was the first instructor hired solely for developmental education in the state as well, when she joined the college in 1989. She began her education career as a second-grade teacher, but took a position in Germany to teach adult basic education to military members.
“And that’s when I made the jump from little kids to big kids,” she said.
She transferred to Fort Knox to continue the same type of work, and then was hired at ECTC. She was interested in the challenge it provided, because the department was successful but still needed a lot of support. She felt there was a lot on which to build.
Dile said developmental teaching is similar to teaching any type of course, but said boosting the self-confidence of her students is a big part of what she and other faculty in the department do. Many students have doubts about their ability to be academically successful. Any student starting college is making a transition, Dile said, but often these students have a larger one to make.
“They have a bigger gap to jump,” she said.
More and more students are entering developmental courses as populations and standards rise, and community colleges bear the brunt of that, as ECTC is an open-access institution. It’s not enough to welcome them in and then leave them to “sink or swim,” Dile said. The college must have offerings for all, she said.
“Developmental studies is the bridge or the transition for them,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or email@example.com.