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A Study of the Effects of Peer Tutoring in Relation to Student GPA

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: S-STEM 3

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Scott Steinbrink Gannon University

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Dr. Scott Steinbrink is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, primarily tasked with teaching computer methods and design.

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Adam Finn Nogaj


Karinna M. Vernaza Gannon University

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Dr. Karinna Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003, and she is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Business and a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.S. is in Marine Systems Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. She was awarded the 2012 ASEE NCS Outstanding Teacher Award, 2013 Gannon University Distinguished Faculty Award and 2013-2014 Gannon University Faculty Award for Excellence in Service-Learning. Dr. Vernaza does research in engineering education (active learning techniques) and high-strain deformation of materials. She is currently the PI of an NSF S-STEM. She has served in the North Central Section Board since 2013.

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Lin Zhao Gannon University

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Lin Zhao received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada in 2006. She received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from Shandong University, Jinan, China, in 1993 and 1996 respectively. From 1996 to 2002, she was a Faculty Member with the School of Control Science and Engineering and the School of Electrical Engineering, Shandong University. From 2002 to 2007, she was first a Research and Teaching Assistant and then a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Applied Electrostatic Research Center, the University of Western Ontario. Since 2007, she has been with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Gannon University, Erie, PA, where she is currently a Professor. Her research interests include electrical machinery design, modeling and analysis of electric drives, and control of electric drives.

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Saeed Tiari Gannon University

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In the fall of 2015, XXXXXX University implemented a semi-mandatory peer-to-peer tutoring program within a variety of courses that have traditionally been linked to high student attrition. Some of these courses have previously been identified as critical for success in the NSF S-STEM grant in effect at the university, and thus it is of interest to determine whether students in the S-STEM program would benefit from inclusion in the peer-tutoring program. The peer-tutoring program presents a naturally occurring experiment because some sections of these courses have included the peer-to-peer tutoring program, while others have been traditionally taught without this tutoring aspect. As a result, the authors have been able to begin to assess the effectiveness of this tutoring on student performance specifically in Calculus I, Calculus II and the lowest-level Calculus-based Physics courses. This study groups students by GPA at the beginning of the semester (less than 2.0, up to 2.5, up to 3.0, up to 3.5 and above 3.5) and within those groups gathers data on hours of tutoring completed, final course grade and GPA for each student at the conclusion of the semester. Comparison is made between average performance of students enrolled in peer-tutored and in traditionally-taught sections. While the results are quite preliminary, it is possible to begin to estimate (1) whether student performance in the class (as measured by final grade in the course) is affected by the tutoring, (2) which student group is most strongly affected by the tutoring, and (3) whether there is an optimal number of tutoring hours for student success. Inasmuch as there are confounding variables (such as different instructors among sections and differing levels of student motivation) that have not yet been controlled, this study is submitted as a work-in-progress. Preliminary analysis, however, seems to indicate that it may be possible to identify a “sweet spot” for student starting GPA at which the tutoring is most effective, and the number of hours of tutoring that is optimal for the typical student. While it is not a new insight to say that tutoring helps struggling but motivated students (previous studies have indicated that this peer-to-peer mentoring program has had a good effect on student success, by reducing the percentage of students receiving a final grade of D or F or withdrawing from the course for students enrolled in peer-tutored sections) the longer-term goal of this study is to determine the effectiveness of tutoring for nominally higher-performing students.

Steinbrink, S., & Nogaj, A. F., & Vernaza, K. M., & Zhao, L., & Tiari, S. (2020, June), A Study of the Effects of Peer Tutoring in Relation to Student GPA Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34060

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