Historic Phases in Learning Assistance Center History
The most influential phases were the fourth (1940s – 1970s) and the fifth (1980s – 1990s). According to Roueche (1977), three quarters of postsecondary institutions had incorporated Learning Assistance Centers in their systems by 1972. In the 1960s, the National Civil Rights movement launched the Office of Compensatory Education that oversaw various student support programs that helped to eliminate socio-economic problems, which plagued students from poor backgrounds. Reading laboratories, writing centers, instructional media centers, technology study programs, and study skill centers were introduced (Arendale, 2010). Central locations for LACs were also established to promote coherence within the centers since they offered diverse services including. These centers were mostly situated in a single location within a campus where space for classrooms, laboratories, and tutorial areas was available. During the two faces also, LACs entered in partnership with various associations, which worked to enhance growth and success of the centers. First, it collaborated with campus libraries to improve accessibility to educational technology. Since LACs were funded by the US Department of Education and other prominent federal associations, the centers owned early software packages, which were then extremely costly. Additionally, the centers had enough staff to offer learners technology-related assistance (Arendale, 2016). Modular learning was also introduced, allowing LACs to offer short-term, non-credit learning opportunities for learners. These centers were also embraced by the postsecondary institutions due to the systems’ ability to educate, validate, and support students. The LAC movement received significant support from various bodies including the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), the National Learning College Center Association (NCLCA), and the Learning Support Centers in Higher Education (LSCHE). Collaboration with these organizations played a central role in the expansion of LACs between 1960 and 1990s.
Increasing enrolment. The various student programs launched in the 1960s swelled college enrolment. The enrolment increased from 35% in 1960s to 45% in 1970s (Arendale, 2010). The surge was also attributed to the increased number of part-time students and adults, particularly returning veterans from Korea and Vietnam.
Increasing diversity of students. The Civil Rights Movement ignited major societal changes including the LACs. People of color and other individuals from low income families were granted opportunities to access postsecondary education. Also, students that had not completed college were also given the opportunity to complete college (Arendale, 2016). LAC was mandated to extend its operations beyond preparing students for college and serve as a primary resource to postsecondary institutions.
Federal Involvement. There was increased federal involvement, which led to numerous changes in policies and increase in resources. For instance, the GI Bill of Rights (1944) supported close to a million World War II veterans who enrolled in college (Wyatt, 1982). The Civil Rights Act (1964) focused on helping people of color and other less privileged students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The Higher Education Act (1965) offered support and enhanced access to postsecondary education. Lastly, the Open Door Admission Policies enabled numerous students to enroll in colleges and joined the workforce immediately after graduating high school. These policies saw a massive expansion in the LAC system.
The most influential factor is the federal involvement due to its intensive involvement and tremendous achievement in promoting the accessibility of postsecondary education. The federal’s intervention saw many students enroll in postsecondary institutions and more facilities were built to further the mission of LACs.
Arendale, D. (2016, April 11). History of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education: Mid-1940s through 1970s. Our History. Retrieved from http://www.arendale.org/home/2016/4/11/history-of-learning-assistance-and-developmental-education-m.html
Arendale, D. (2010). Mainstreamed Academic Assistance and Enrichment for all Students: The Historical Origins of Learning Assistance Centers. Research for Educational Reform, 9(4). Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/539810/Mainstreamed_academic_assistance_and_enrichment_for_all_students_The_historical_origins_of_learning_assistance_centers
Roueche, J.E. (1977). Overcoming Learning Problems: A Guide to Developmental Education in College, Jossey-Bass Publishers. Retrieved from https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/11570937?q&versionId=13597130
Wyatt, M. (1992, Sep). The Past, the Present, and the Future Need for College Reading Courses in the U.S. Journal of Reading, 36(1), 10-20. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ448376