PLTL and PLTLIS

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Title of Abstract: PLTL and PLTLIS

Name of Author: AE Dreyfuss
Author Company or Institution: New York City College of Technology, CUNY
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: STEM courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: Peer-Led Team Learning, Peer Leaders, group work, PLTLIS

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Peer-Led Team Learning is a curricular model that adds a peer-led component to a course. It is incorporated in mathematics, science, engineering, and other courses to engage students by working together on problems and course material under the guidance of a trained student peer leader. The Peer-Led Team Learning International Society (PLTLIS) aims to support practitioners (faculty, administrators, learning specialists, Peer Leaders) to foster active student learning through peer-led teams.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Faculty who choose to include PLTL workshops work with the Peer Leaders to align workshop materials with course assessment. Students' performance improves and they persist to higher-level courses. The six critical components distinguish the PLTL model: 1) faculty are involved; 2) the PLTL workshop is an integral component of the course; 3) Peer Leaders are trained and supervised; 4) materials are challenging; 5) workshops are held at a scheduled time and place weekly; 6) there is institutional support.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Comparison of student performance in sections with and without workshop (control group) demonstrates improvement in grades by ~15%, no matter the course or field. Qualitative studies also demonstrate engagement by students and Peer Leaders, using discourse analysis, phenomenology, and other methods.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Impacts range from improved student performance and understanding, greater persistence in higher-level courses, leadership skills and interest in teaching by the Peer Leaders as well as greater interest in graduate studies. There are often cross-departmental conversations as PLTL is adopted by faculty in different departments, many of whom find that working with the Peer Leaders invigorates their teaching.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Challenges include limited budgets to pay Peer Leaders, creating an organizational structure so that PLTL is incorporated into more courses. Various organizational models have developed around the U.S., with the goal of sustaining the PLTL model rather than depending on external and temporary funding and support.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: PLTL efforts are presented regularly at conferences and workshops, regionally, nationally, and internationally, by faculty, learning specialists, and Peer Leaders, and results are published in peer-reviewed journals. The PLTL International Society's website, www.pltlis.org, supports dissemination of information and materials.

Acknowledgements: Practitioners of PLTL and Peer Leaders