Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
The PRIMES program (Partnership for Retention Improvement in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) is an NSF STEP program implemented in three different schools: Engineering, Education, and Arts and Sciences, and across nine different departments at the University of XX. This program is designed to develop Peer-Led-Team-Learning (PLTL) communities in courses from the participating departments by utilizing undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) as mentors/peer leaders. UTAs are typically closer to the age/experience of the students in the courses, therefore the students are likely more comfortable and more engaged.
The PRIMES implementation of the PLTL model has varied between schools, departments and the courses in which UTAs have been involved. In each implementation, UTAs present material and/or provide help with homework problems. To promote the PLTL between the students and the UTAs a variety of implementation techniques were adapted by the departments at the XXXX School of Engineering. These techniques include UTAs hosting voluntary help sessions outside of class hours, and utilizing UTAs during regular class periods with mandatory in class sessions.
There are advantages and disadvantages of each of the PLTL implementation techniques. The external volunteer attendance sessions allow for closer relationships between peer leaders and students. One disadvantage is students’ participation is reduced unless attendance is incentivized. The mandatory in-class peer led groups nullify the disadvantage of reduced attendance since it occurs during class meeting times. Having the groups meet during class times allows the UTAs time to provide more instant feedback on lecture materials as well as clarifying information for the students. Some disadvantages to in-class groups is a reduction of instructor led class time, and also has the potential to be chaotic depending on the number of UTAs and groups that are meeting simultaneously.
This paper will provide an introduction to the PRIMES program, and a description regarding the use of UTAs and peer led groups of students in a Mechanics I: Statics course. This course used the mandatory in-class peer led group implementation. The Statics’ UTAs attended each class meeting, and during the final 30 minutes, they worked with groups of students on graded assignments. The students generally self-selected into small study groups and interacted with the same UTAs throughout the semester. In this manner, the students built relationships with the UTAs and the students received immediate feedback regarding current topic materials.
Lewis, J. E., & Rockaway, T. D., & Willing, G. (2018, June), Peer-Led-Team-Learning in a Mechanics I: Statics Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30868
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