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2 CHEMISTRY AT THE UWI Three / Four year BSc Programme  Year 1 – Introductory Chemistry (> 500 students)  Years 2 and 3 – Advanced Chemistry (80-100 students)  Laboratory integrated with lectures and contribute 20% towards the final grade for student  At least two in-course tests per course  Final written exam at end of each semester eight (60-70 %) of course grade

3 Weekly tutorials Students are given weekly problem papers which are discussed in 1 hour tutorial sessions which are led by faculty and/or senior graduate students Attendance not mandatory Active participation encouraged Traditional lecture mode of instruction “Sage on stage”. Lecturer on platform presenting material students more passive learner

4 STRUCTURE OF LEVEL 1 CHEM Semester 1 CHEM 190101 Fundamental Analytical Chemistry, Atomic Structure, Aliphatic Organic Chemistry, Structure and Bonding and Molecular Energetics Semester 2 ; CHEM 1902 Thermodynamics, Coordination Chemistry, Main Group Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Kinetics, Functionalized Organic Chemistry and Aromatics.

5 Background to the Study Decline in:  performance in level 1 chemistry courses with increased enrolment (>70% to 50%)  problem solving and critical thinking skills.  attendance at lectures and tutorials  Interest in chemistry

6 Background to study  The large lecture group (>300 per group) often results in lack of student participation and poor understanding of some concepts  Many students have difficulty adjusting to the more impersonal, and rigourous university culture.  Many students enter with inadequate academic backgrounds and the self-confidence

7 Interventions Tried  Increased number of smaller sized tutorials  Increased training of faculty sensitizing them to new instructional approaches to engaging students in large classes.  Posting of lectures notes and resources online.  Result: No significant change in the results

8 WHY PLTL?  Focus on student-student interaction  Active learning and cooperative learning strategies would provide an environment in which students could collaborate to solve problems and deepen their understanding of concepts.  Could enable students to make a smoother transition to the tertiary level through increased social interaction with their peers.  Development of new relationships and commitment to a common purpose of learning and succeeding academically.

9 PLTL versus Tutorials  Tutorial (30 students or more with a lecturer or graduate student in control is replaced by small groups (8-10) and peer leaders.

10 OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT To improve the learning experiences and performance of introductory level students To assess the impacts of PLTL on students in terms of Academic performance Learning gains Attitude to chemistry Self- confidence Transferable skills- leadership, working in teams, oral and written communication, critical thinking and problem solving

11 Also…… Since students self selected into PLTL, it was necessary to compare their chemistry background knowledge and its effect on their performance in Level 1. (Maths, Chem, Phys, Bio grades prior to entering university)

12 Strategy for Implementation  Graduate student recruited to implement and coordinate PLTL as a research project  Project proposal developed and presented to faculty and HOD to get their approval.  Start with a small group of 50 students as a Pilot study  Analyze results of the pilot and assess whether to continue

13 Role of Grad student Liaise with faculty to prepare workshop problem sheets/manuals Attend some lectures Recruit and train Peer Leaders Organize rooms for workshops Attend some workshops and give feedback to Peer Leaders Design and administer qualitative and quantitative instruments to assess outcome of intervention Collect and analyze relevant data Report findings to the department at end of each semester Make modifications, recommendations etc

14 Implementation-CHEM 1901 SEMESTER 1  Pilot started in 2008-9 Selection of Peer Leaders  Students with B+ or better grades at Level 1 sent letters of congratulations and invited to be Peer Leaders in this important PLTL programme  5 Peer Leaders selected and trained (Two 3 hours sessions prior to start and weekly thereafter)  Peer Leaders received stipend

15 Selection of students  Advertisements : during registration, online, posters, in lectures during first week  Students register for 2 hr sessions based on their timetables.  Semester 1: 48 students participated, placed into 5 groups [self-selected]: 6 workshops sessions held.  Semester 2; same peer leaders; 59 students; 10 workshops  18 students participated in both semesters

16  Groups met regularly to tackle problems designed by the lecturer and or programme coordinator to help deepen students’ understanding of concepts  Participating students expected to attend lectures, tutorials and do required readings, assignments and laboratory work.

17 RESULTS  In both semesters, PLTL participants out-performed their peers.(despite similar chemistry backgrounds)  The PLTL group also had better quality grades.  Differences were significant (t-tests)  Students who participated for both semesters, did better than those who participated for semester 2 only or Semester 1 only.  Students who participated for both semesters also did much better than those who dropped out (semester 1 only)

18 Student Groups % pass Sem 1 Sem 2 Average Score Sem 1 Sem 2 Percentage of Grades I n the ‘AB’ range Sem 1 Sem 2 PLTL (N= 48) (N=59) 64.6 74.649.5 52.529.0 44 Non-PLTL (N=434) N=394) 49.3 59.144.3 42.519.0 22 Population (N= 482) (N=453) 52.1 62.344.8 45.820.0 25

19 Year 1 Semester 1

20 Year 1 Semester 2


22 Response  Administration sufficiently impressed to support continuation.  Programme expanded and this academic year 180 students and 20 Peer leaders  Peer leaders granted stipend by the department.

23 Year 2; Semester 1

24 Year 2; Semester 2

25 Year 3

26 Year 4 ; Semester 1

27 Effect on Peer leaders The experience of being a peer leader helped to improve their understanding of the subject.  “Being a peer leader has helped me to learn more than what I did in first year because certain areas that I went through I never really understand it because of the rush and the course content being long and lengthy. Learning with the group as well they gave more insight, they gave a better understanding and I gave them tips as well as to how they can tackle a question”. (PL Errol)

28  “Oh yeah, going through the questions now in the sessions, working them or whatever, I feel like I have a good grasp of it right now. Even in organic chemistry I find myself more comfortable with mechanisms. So it was fairly good, even thermodynamics, the understanding of entropy and how to calculate Gibbs energy for a system and its surroundings and those things, yeah mon so the sessions really help me in my second year..” (PL Jermaine) :

29 Personal growth and development “one thing I don’t like is to play the hypocrite, so if I am going to be there in the sessions and telling them that ‘you should read your lectures man, go to your tutorials and those things’, then I can’t be slacking off and not reading my lectures up to time and so yes it really pushed me to read my lectures, I even found myself going to a few of the (first year) lectures, I found myself talking more in the (my) lectures and so forth, during the tutorials so yes it[the peer leading experience] boosted my confidence so that even my English right now, I have never been so fluent speaking English but through this session I had a chance to practice and to build on my English so it was very good. (PL Jermaine)

30 Increased self confidence “I had never taught before and I never thought that I was adequate enough o be a teacher. So yeah man it has helped to boost my confidence tremendously actually”. (Former peer leader Tiffany)

31 Improved leadership skills “With this leadership opportunity that I was given I just decide to make the best of it. And being on the centre stage I found that it was very good for me, it boosted my confidence, and it enabled me to you know show some of my leadership qualities, I am better prepared right now to take my time and manage other responsibilities yeah I am more comfortable with other leadership roles”

32 PLTL Student Feedback In general students had positive views of the PLTL workshops, Peer Leaders and workshop materials

33 How did the PLTL workshops help/not help you?  “it helped me become more confident in my approach to my work”  “it helped to understand some concepts that were not clear in class”  “it helped me to better analyze information”  “the PLTL project motivated me to do chemistry and it aided in explaining concepts better”

34 What did you like most about the PLTL workshops?  “the interaction amongst persons my own age”  “Our peer leader was cool and made learning fun and look easy”  “the challenging arguments brought forward by other students and the step by step explanation and discussion about the problems especially the things the lecturers left out in the lectures”

35 ItemMean PLTL approach had a positive impact on my attitude towards learning of Chemistry. 3.7 ± 0.8 The peer leaders were effective in fulfilling their roles 4.0 ± 0.6 Workshop materials were effective.4.2 ± 0.5 PLTL approach helped to improve my learning of introductory level chemistry. 4.2 ±0.2 N =108

36 Challenges  Funding for training and compensation of peer leaders, production of manuals for workshops  Available rooms available to conduct workshops.  Finding suitable Peer Leaders  “Denying” some students the opportunity to participate.  These challenges can be overcome through institutionalizing the model and giving consideration to offering credits or tuition waivers, instead of cash to Peer Leaders. In addition, the institution could charge students a small fee as part of their laboratory fees, to offset costs manuals and resource materials

37 Conclusions  PLTL workshops Significantly improved performance in introductory chemistry as well as  Increased student self confidence and attitude towards chemistry.  Participation in both semester results in better performance than in one semester only.  The PLTL model provides an atmosphere in which students freely express themselves more freely, show less fear of failure, and develop the self- confidence and problem solving skills that are necessary for independent learning.

38 Implications  Results point to the need for institutionalization of the PLTL model to include all Year 1 students as well as other subjects e.g Math, Phys etc  Need for a PLTL programme director who can focus on coordinating the programme  The need to revisit our mode of instruction

39 Acknowledgments  Special thanks to the kind assistance and generosity of A.E. Dreyfuss and Gosser, D. who assisted with training and useful advice prior to the start of the project.

40 Thank You


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