During 2003-1 and 2003-2, twelve units of second semester General College Chemistry, CHM 1046, were developed and implemented for peer-led team learning workshops, (PLTL workshops). The PLTL model uses workshops conducted by students (peer leaders) who had previously excelled in the course (CHM 1046) and have strong interpersonal skills. These peer-leaders become guides and mentors to workshop groups of 6-8 students who are currently taking CHM 1046. These “workshops” effectively complement regular classroom instruction and provide an active learning environment. Chemistry workshops have been evaluated in over 20 higher education institutions as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) – sponsored systemic reform initiative, and have been shown to increase student achievement and reduce course attrition. We had successfully implemented PLTL in the first semester general chemistry course (CHM 1045) and expanded this approach to the second semester course (CHM 1046).
CHM 1046 is a mandatory course for students pursuing majors in medical science, dentistry, engineering, pharmacy, science education and many other important fields. CHM 1046 is a very rigorous and challenging course and has a very high attrition and very low success rate nationwide (approximately 40-50%). We did a study of twenty different sections of CHM 1046 in Kendall Campus during the last 6 major terms and the success rate of CHM 1046 varied among 50% to 75%. S uccess rate is determined by dividing the sum of A + B + C earned by the total number of students taking the course.
The peer-led team learning model actively engages students in the learning process by having them solve carefully structured problems in small groups under the direction of a peer leader. This activity developed these carefully selected problems. Peer-led workshops are an effective way to engage large numbers of students with course material and each other. Improved performance and retention, development of communication and team skills, higher motivation and course satisfaction, and increased interest in pursuing further study in science are among the benefits of the PLTL approach.
Four different PLTL workshops sessions were conducted weekly for a period of fifteen weeks in the spring semester of 2003. During 2003-2, over 56 different workshops sessions were implemented for 3 different sections of CHM 1046 using the 12 workshop units developed during 2003-1. Each workshop session lasted from 1 – 2 hours. The funding for the four PLTL leaders was provided by the Natural Science Department. The results obtained demonstrate a clear impact on student learning and success. In all three different sections of the CHM 1046 lectures where the PLTL workshops were implemented, an amazing 100% success rate was obtained. We are establishing success rate by dividing the sum of A + B + C earned by the total number of participants in the workshop; that is, every student who actively participated in these PLTL workshops passed the course with a grade of either A, B or C.