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Analysis of the Impact of Formal Peer-led Study Groups on First-year Student Math Performance

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Techniques in Improving Mathematics Education in STEM Curricula

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.188.1 - 25.188.13

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Paper Authors


John R. Reisel University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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John R. Reisel is an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM.) He serves as Associate Director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, and Co-director of the Energy Conversion Efficiency Lab. In addition to research into engineering education, his research efforts focus on combustion and energy utilization. Reisel was a 2005 recipient of the UWM Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, the 2000 UWM-College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Teaching Award, and a 1998 recipient of the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. Reisel is a member of ASEE, ASME, the Combustion Institute, and SAE. Reisel received his from Villanova University in 1989, his M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1991, and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1994.

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Marissa Jablonski University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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Marissa R. Jablonski is a Ph.D. student of civil/environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM). She serves as Program Coordinator of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded FORTE (Fostering Opportunities for Tomorrow’s Engineers) program at UWM and works to recruit and retain undergraduate minorities and women to UWM’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Jablonski is focusing her dissertation on sustainable oxidation of textile wastewater and is working to create small-scale wastewater treatment units for cottage textile industries. She trained at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Nagpur, India where she worked on biodegradation of azo dye intermediates. Jablonski served as Co-chair of UWM’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders for two years since its inception in 2007 and continues to help design and implement water distribution projects in Guatemala. Jablonski was a 2008 recipient of the NSF Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention, the 2008 Wisconsin Water Association Scholarship, and the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 UWM Chancellor’s Graduate Student Awards. Marissa is a member of ASEE and EWB. She received her B.S. degree in natural resources and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, in 2003, her M.S. degree in civil/environmental engineering from UWM in 2009 and will receive her Ph.D. in civil/environmental engineering from UWM in 2013.

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Ethan V. Munson University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee


Hossein Hosseini University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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Hossein Hosseini has received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from University of Iowa in 1982. He has been a faculty member with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) since 1983. Currently, he is professor and Chairman of the Computer Science Program. Hosseini’s expertise is in the areas of computer networks, computer architecture, fault-tolerance, and distributed and parallel computing. He is the Founder and Co-director of the Computer Networks Laboratory at UWM. Hosseini has published more than 120 research papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings, one of his co-authored papers has won the Best Paper Award, and he has published two book chapters. He is the recipient of a patent in the field of computer networks. He has supervised nine Ph.D. and over 60 M.S, students and has received funding from NSF and industry. Hosseini is an internationally known figure; he has served on the editorial board of a journal and on the program committee of several international conferences. He regularly reviews research papers for various journals and conference proceedings and textbooks for book publishers. Hosseini has played a leading role in the development of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science programs including the development of the new B.S. degree program in computer engineering, the initiation of the Computer Science program accreditation by ABET, and the growth and expansion of curricula in computer architecture and computer networks, where he has developed several undergraduate and graduate courses. Hosseini has extensive administrative experience as well. In addition to serving as the Computer Science Chair, he has served in important committees such as College of Engineering and Applied Science Strategic Planning Committee, Division of Natural Sciences Executive Committee, and UWM Senate.

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Analysis of the Impact of Formal Peer-led Study Groups on First-Year Student Math PerformanceAbstractFormal peer-led study groups were created for first-year engineering and computerscience students. The groups were organized around the math course taken by thestudents so that all students in the study group were taking the same math course,although students did not necessarily come from the same course section. In the 2010-11academic year, these groups were organized as a formal class, and students received agrade based upon their participation. This was done to increase participation rates overpast years during which the study groups were offered in a less formal setting. Analysisof previous years’ groups had indicated that greater participation in the study groupscorrelated with higher grades in the associated math courses.Study groups typically featured 8-10 students, and were directed by an upper-levelengineering or computer science student. The student leader would pose problems to thestudents in the class. These problems came from homework assigned in the math classes,additional non-assigned problems from the math books, and outside sources. Thestudents then work on the problems together, until a solution is found. The student leaderwould provide guidance if the students were unable to solve a problem withoutassistance, but would not completely solve the problems for the students.Approximately 70% of the first-year students in engineering and computer scienceparticipated in these study groups, with most students attending most of the weeklysessions. Grades of the students who participated in the study groups were generally 0.3-0.5 points (on a 4-point scale) higher than the average course grades of all students in thecourses.In this paper, the format of the study groups will be described in detail, and the analysisof the impact of the study groups on the student grades will be presented.

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