Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

First Advisor

Vincent F. Kuetemeyer


Nationwide, between one-third and one-half of all students who enter colleges and universities today are identified as needing some remediation. Many developmental freshmen do not have a realistic perception of their learning skills, their ability to activate their prior knowledge, nor a high degree of self-confidence in either their self-image or their inferencing ability to learn in today's college classroom. The review of the literature served as a basis for designing a cooperative, active, critical thinking unified strategy model (named by acronym C*A*C*T*U*S) for educating "at-risk" readers in developmental education. Furthermore, the literature review on self-efficacy and empowerment action-oriented teacher research served as a basis for observing and recording certain emerging themes of learning and/or personal identification concepts of at-risk students during the fourteen-week implementation of the reading model. A researcher-designed checklist was used to observe ten students during the implementation of twelve selected strategies included in the model which utilized collaborative/cooperative learning throughout the semester. The researcher also utilized an observational checksheet, student-generated journals and artifacts, and tapes and videos from student-prepared lessons for documentation. Interviews with the subgroup members involved in the collaborative/cooperative process provided further assessment of students' feelings regarding their reading progress and overall self-image. Posttest Nelson Denny Reading scores at the end of the semester were also compared (123 students instructed via C*A*C*T*U*S with 109 students taught via traditional methods). The data were used to assess the effectiveness of collaborative/cooperative learning reading strategies on the at-risk students' ability to better read/write/think in college content area reading. Daily observations were made to assess any change in attitude toward personal self-efficacy in a classroom setting where such empowerment action-oriented research was used for fourteen consecutive weeks. Findings indicate that: (1) C*A*C*T*U*S, a collaborative/cooperative learning instructional model, proved to be a useful teaching technique in developing the reading performance of underprepared college students. (2) At-risk postsecondary students, when instructed with a model like C*A*C*T*U*S, can achieve success, and, ultimately begin feeling more positive about themselves as individuals and lifelong learners.