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Peer-Led-Team-Learning in a Mechanics I: Statics Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Creating a Positive Environment for Learning

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


James E. Lewis University of Louisville

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James E. Lewis, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals in the J. B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville. His research interests include parallel and distributed computer systems, cryptography, engineering education, undergraduate retention and technology (Tablet PCs) used in the classroom.

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Thomas D. Rockaway University of Louisville

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Thomas D. Rockaway, Ph.D., P.E., is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Director for the Center for Infrastructure Research at the University of Louisville. His research work has focused on identifying methods to extend the life and improve the performance of urban infrastructure. Much of his worked has included water and wastewater initiatives and incorporating green concepts into existing systems.

Prior to his work at the University, he has served as a geotechnical engineer for a large power corporation, a regional consultant and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He has provided foundation and subsurface recommendations for structures ranging from single story dwellings to multi-story buildings.

He has doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Masters and Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University.

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Gerold Willing University of Louisville

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Gerold (Jerry) A. Willing is an Associate Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Louisville. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University. Dr. Willing’s expertise lies in the development of complex fluid systems for practical applications and characterization of their properties and stability. He has additional interests in water utility infrastructure materials and their impact on water quality, electroactive hydrogels, soft-lithography techniques, Peer-Led-Team-Learning, and development of a students engineering identity.

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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.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015