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Students Teaching Students

Students Teaching Students

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Students Teaching Students

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  1. Students Teaching Students How an Innovative Peer-Led Study Group Program Helps First-Year Students Succeed in Introductory Science Courses Joe Salvatore – Director of Peer-Led Study Groups Science Learning Center University of Michigan

  2. Peer-Led Study Group Program At-A-Glance • Small groups of up to 12 students • Meet weekly for two hours • Offered for 14 introductory courses in biology, chemistry, and physics • Led by a peer facilitator who has taken the course successfully • Emphasize students teaching and learning from each other

  3. Current Program (Winter 2006) • 132 Study Groups • 105 Study Group Leaders • 1520 Study Group Members

  4. Program Philosophy The Peer-Led Study Group Program provides students with opportunities to teach and learn from each other in small, structured groups guided by trained facilitators

  5. Program Goals • Improve learning by challenging students to explain what they know • Enhance critical thinking by providing opportunities for students to explain their reasoning • Encourage problem-solving and knowledge application • Expose students to diverse perspectives and new ways of thinking

  6. Staff • One full-time director • Four program assistants • Undergraduates • Former study group leaders • Work four hours/week • Earn $13/hour • Provide administrative support, including scheduling groups and basic office tasks

  7. Study Group Members • 41% First Year Students • 39% Sophomores • 19% Juniors and Seniors • 1% Others • 34% Male • 66% Female

  8. Study Group Leaders • 95% Undergraduates • Earned high B or A in course • Many former study group members • High percentage of Pre-Med students • Helps students prepare for MCAT • Recommended by faculty, GSIs, study group leaders

  9. Leaders (Con’t) • Earn $9/hour • Work 3-4 hours/week/group • 2 hours/week meeting time • 45 minutes/week preparation time • Training time • Lead 1-3 study groups/term • Ten hour bank of preparation time/course • Twelve group meetings/term • Sign Leader Contract (H)

  10. Hiring • Advertising on SLC website, University student employment postings, posters • Leader interest forms submitted through website • 20-30 minute interviews • Facilitators chosen based on knowledge of material, communication skills, understanding of program philosophy and goals

  11. Training Overview • Three trainings per term for new leaders • Two trainings per term for returning leaders • Supports program philosophy & addresses weaknesses • Trainings last 2-3 hours (7-9 PM) • Offered two consecutive weekdays to accommodate student schedules (leaders attend one of two days)

  12. Training Overview • Use rooms with large round tables that seat 7-8 to encourage collaboration among leaders • Refreshments provided • Leaders paid for attending training

  13. New Leader Training (H) • Provide vision for program • Model collaborative learning techniques • Provide leaders with tools needed to facilitate groups

  14. New Leader Training • Ask leaders to discuss what they want to say to their group at the first meeting • Buzz Groups - smaller discussion groups • Encourages discussion at start of training • Leaders create own checklist • Review checklist (H)

  15. New Leader Training • Planning study group structure (H) • Write-Pair-Share - typical study group session • Review sample structure • Returning Leader Panel • Experiences, challenges, and successes

  16. New Leader Training • Role Play Scenarios (H) • Act out and discuss positive and negative ways of dealing with typical challenges • Case Study (H) • Good summary activity • Two Questions Feedback Form

  17. Mid-Term Training • Reciprocal teaching of collaborative learning techniques • Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty by Barkley, Cross, & Major • Gives leaders opportunities to work with other leaders of the same course to apply techniques to their discipline

  18. Mid-Term Training • Best Discussion Techniques • Write-Pair-Share • Round Robin • Buzz Groups

  19. Mid-Term Training • Best Reciprocal Peer Teaching Techniques • Note-Taking Pairs • Learning Cell • Jigsaw • Test-Taking Teams

  20. Mid-Term Training • Best Problem-Solving Techniques • Think-Aloud Pair Problem Solving • Send-a-Problem • Structured Problem Solving

  21. End-of-Term Training • Memory and Mnemonic Devices • Overview of how memory works • Explanation of multiple mnemonic systems • Link System • Story System • Loci System • Peg System • Your Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It by Kenneth Higbee

  22. End-of-Term Training • Self-Evaluations (H) • Leaders complete self-evaluation and discuss major challenges • Self-evaluations copied and return to leaders • Include their goals for the next term (if applicable) • Reviewed during feedback meetings following observations

  23. Other Training Topics • Learning Theory • Bloom’s Taxonomy • Perry’s Scheme of Cognitive Development • Knowing and Reasoning in College (Marcia Baxter Magolda) • Creating and evaluating worksheets and activities • Developing effective questions

  24. Observations • Provides snapshot of leader’s style and group dynamics • Focuses on new leaders for current term • Program Director and program assistants observe leaders for 20-30 minutes • Observation form mirrors self-evaluation form (H)

  25. Observations • Use of Tablet PC with Webcam • Allows observation form to be completed electronically and linked with audio and video • Easier to provide constructive feedback to leaders when you can show them • Camera can be focused on leader or members

  26. Observation Feedback Session • Occurs 24-48 hours after observation • Begins with leader discuss whether session was typical • What did they think worked and didn’t work? • Feedback given using sandwich approach • Positive-Constructive-Positive • Go through each question of observation form, accessing video as needed

  27. End-of-Term Surveys • Provides feedback about members’ experiences in the program • 20 questions evaluating their study group leader • Responses compiled and averaged for each group, course, and program • Subjective comments provided • Each leader receives copy of evaluation form (H) • Program Director meets with leaders with serious concerns

  28. End-of-Term Surveys • Survey data can point to leaders’ weaknesses individually or as a program • Must consider number of members completing survey • Overall survey data positive

  29. Fall 2004 and Winter 2005 Survey Results Effects of Study Group Participation Effect Winter 05’ Fall 05’ % Reporting % Reporting Positive Effect Positive Effect Learning of Subject Matter 93% 90% Understanding Difficult Material 93% 89% Confidence in Mastery of Material 77% 78% Exam Grades 75% 78% n=379 n=653

  30. Fall 2004 and Winter 2005 Survey Results Effects of Study Group Participation Effect ’Winter 05’ Fall ‘05 % Reporting % Reporting More Likely to More Likely to Join Another Science S.G. 87% 86% Recommend S.G. to Friend 91% 89% Take More Science Classes 41% 40% Major in Science 37% 37% n=379 n=645

  31. Training Challenges • Difficulty in training all leaders during one session • Choosing relevant topics that engage all leaders, particularly returning leaders • Finding ways to capitalize on returning leader experience

  32. Observation Challenges • Making time to observe all new leaders early enough in the term • Member/Leader discomfort with video recording • Difficulty in camera placement • Audio problems

  33. Conclusion • Training should support program philosophy and address program weaknesses • Effective training engages leaders from the start • Observations provide supervisors with sense of leaders’ strengths and weaknesses • Feedback sessions allow leaders to reestablish goals

  34. Questions