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Teaching Teams Program at ASU Pam Marks – Chemistry and Biochemistry Sonya Curry – Coordinator & Doctoral Student, Learning Support Services August 1, 2006 Problems Leading to Poor Retention Variation in preparation for general chemistry Students get frustrated doing problems

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teaching teams program at asu

Teaching Teams Program at ASU

Pam Marks – Chemistry and Biochemistry

Sonya Curry – Coordinator & Doctoral Student, Learning Support Services

August 1, 2006

problems leading to poor retention
Problems Leading to Poor Retention
  • Variation in preparation for general chemistry
  • Students get frustrated doing problems
  • Poor study skills
  • Some students are bored and see the class as a repeat of their second year of high school chemistry.
  • Some students don’t want to study, or they can’t find the time…
improving retention
Improving Retention
  • Providing a variety of resources and alternate ways for students to learn should help retain the students that are motivated to learn.


structured in class activities
Structured In-Class Activities
  • Chemistry Department
    • Faculty Lectures
      • Interactive
      • Group activities woven throughout the lecture
      • Opportunities for students to ask questions
    • Graduate Teaching Assistants
      • Discussion sessions 1 day per week
        • Cooperative activities
        • Question/Answer sessions
student resources outside of class
Student Resources Outside of Class
  • Chemistry Department
    • Faculty
      • Website Resources such as optional worksheets
      • Office hours and email
    • Graduate Teaching Assistants
      • Office hours two hours per week (LRC)
      • Review sessions for exams
    • Director of the Chemistry LRC
      • Directs LRC activities / Resource for TAs
      • Runs large-scale review sessions for CHM 113/115/116 (High Attendance)
what is lacking
What is Lacking?
  • Many students need more small-group interactions where they are able to express their thinking processes.
  • Students find it hard to form groups to work in outside of class.
  • Many “top-end” students are not motivated so they do minimal work.
teaching teams pilot program
Teaching Teams Pilot Program
  • The Teaching Teams Program takes advantage of a resource usually under-utilized at most campuses:
    • Highly motivated undergraduates
      • with good high school backgrounds
      • who are interested in sharpening their leadership skills
      • who would likely not be challenged to their full potential in a normal student role
program models teaching teams
Program Models: Teaching Teams
  • The Teaching Teams Program began at the University of Arizona in 1997.
    • Department of Planetary Sciences
    • Grew into the Teaching Teams Program with 230 student leaders in 30 courses, who influence the learning environments of more than 4500 students
  • The Program Model is in use at the University of Texas Austin, and University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
case study genetics course at ut austin
Case Study: Genetics Course at UT-Austin

9 preceptors led studygroups in which 95 students participated (52% of the class)

Preceptors performed one letter grade higher on average than the rest of the class: 3.6 vs. 2.6

Study group participants performed a half-letter grade higher than non-participants: 2.9 vs. 2.4

the beginning of a partnership
The Beginning of a Partnership
  • Spring 2005 ─
    • I was asked by Sonya Curry and Jeanne Hanrahan of the University LRC to participate in a teaching teams pilot program in CHM 113 (2 sections of 192 students each).
  • Reluctant –
    • How would their program fit into my current course structure?
    • Didn’t think my class needed it
    • Afraid of time / extra workload
teaching teams implementation
Teaching Teams Implementation
  • I worked with Sonya last summer to tailor the program to the needs of my course:
    • Undergraduate “leaders” would be trained
    • 2-credit “leadership” course taught by Sonya
    • Leaders would be responsible staying ahead of lecture material and would hold a study session once a week.
    • I would assign take-home quizzes on a regular basis.
    • Sonya would take care of all the administrative aspects.
teaching teams implementation12
Teaching Teams Implementation
  • Day 1:
    • Sonya came to class and introduced the program.
    • Team leader and participant applications were distributed, along with contact info.
  • Day 2:
    • Applications due (overwhelming interest!!)
    • Sonya identifies Teams Leaders and informs them of how to register for the leadership class.
leadership class lia 194
Leadership Class (LIA 194)
  • Aspects of the leadership class:
    • How to facilitate study groups
    • Time management
    • Test anxiety
    • Presenting/talking about difficult concepts
    • Leadership skills
    • Assignments that forced leaders to learn material ahead of time
    • Interaction with other leaders
study sessions
Study Sessions
  • Weekly study sessions were scheduled by team leaders.
  • A schedule was distributed in lecture and posted online.
  • Leaders helped students with homework, studying for exams, and reflection after exams.
fall highlights
Fall Highlights
  • Team Leaders (29) averaged a 3.07 (B) grade from the course. (30% were minorities)
    • The class average was a 2.19 (C).
  • Participants (61) averaged 5% higher on their Final Exam
    • This is significant because the participants and non-participants had similar averages on the first exam.
  • D, E, and W’s 23% Participants / 28% Non-participants
spring semester
Spring Semester
  • The Teaching Teams Program was expanded for the Spring semester of 2006:
    • 4 participating faculty members
    • 8 sections of Chemistry
      • CHM 101 (Introductory Chemistry)
      • CHM113 (1st Semester General Chemistry)
      • CHM115 & CHM 116 (2nd Semester Gen. Chem.)
    • Total Enrollment: Over 1100 students
spring semester18
Spring Semester
  • Changes / Additions
    • Experienced leaders helped to train/ mentor new team leaders.
    • More advertising
spring highlights participants p non participants np
Spring Highlights – Participants (P)/ Non-Participants (NP)

101 113 115/116

P / NP P / NP P / NP

Enrollment47 / 275 57 / 319 37 / 418

%Participants15% 15% 6%

Percent on Final 64%/65% 67%/69% 67%/67%

Course GPA 2.5 / 2.2 2.6 / 2.6 2.3 / 2.4

D, E, W’s 9% / 32% 18% / 22% 19% / 27%

spring highlights team leaders tl
Spring Highlights – Team Leaders (TL)

101 113 115/116


# of Team Leaders 5/ 275 7/ 319 9/ 572

Course GPA3.6/ 2.2 3.9/ 2.6 3.8/ 2.4

Mean Final Ex 83%/65% 86%/69% 88%/67%

qualitative data participant feedback
Qualitative Data: Participant Feedback
  • Participants reported that study groups:
    • Helped them learn to work with others
    • Gave them someone they could relate to
    • Allowed more one on one interactions
    • Provided a setting for sharing ideas
    • Helped clarify concepts / increase understanding
    • Eased test anxiety
    • Boosted their confidence in their knowledge
    • Helped them pass the class
qualitative data participant feedback22
Qualitative Data: Participant Feedback
  • Reasons for not participating:
    • Many had time conflicts
    • Some formed their own study groups
    • Some said they worked better on their own
qualitative data team leader feedback
Qualitative Data: Team Leader Feedback
  • Team Leaders reported that the program helped:
    • Develop better study skills
    • Reduce procrastination
    • Promote group-thinking and problem solving skills
    • Develop patience, cooperation, and discipline
    • Strengthen understanding of course material
    • Self-esteem
    • Personal growth
    • Define their goal of being a teacher
qualitative data team leader feedback24
Qualitative Data: Team Leader Feedback
  • Many Team Leaders signed up for the position for “honors” credit or for the “leadership class” to be on their transcript and resume.
  • All have stated that the experience was much more personally rewarding than expected.
qualitative data team leader feedback25
Qualitative Data: Team Leader Feedback
  • “Although I have generally made “A’s” through most of my education, I often do not put in the time and effort needed to fully absorb information. By becoming a team leader, I have had no choice but to keep up not only with the lessons but ahead of them.”
  • …… “I liked having the added moral obligation to the students I teach…”
qualitative data team leader feedback26
Qualitative Data: Team Leader Feedback
  • “I learned that what I might quickly understand, other people may not comprehend. Thus, it is really important that I have patience and pay attention to what people need help with.”
  • “Being a leader, doesn't mean that you will always come up with the most creative ideas.”
  • “It is important to understand how the major themes of chemistry fit together.”
trends observed
Trends Observed
  • High percentage of female team leaders (68%)
  • Program was most successful / popular in the first semester courses (Intro and 1st semester general chemistry)
changes for fall 2006
Changes for Fall 2006
  • More leadership classes (more availability)
    • More leaders per lecture section
      • More study sessions
      • Greater participation
  • More problem-solving activities
  • Integration of Chemistry LRC with University LRC.
    • More involvement of Chemistry staff
  • Website:
    • www.asu.edu/lrc/teachingteams.htm
  • Learning Support Services
    • Jeanne Hanrahan, Director
  • Chemistry Faculty
    • Ron Briggs, CHM 113
    • Janet Bond-Robinson, CHM 116
    • Jack Fuchs, CHM 115/116
    • Rich Bauer, Coordinator of General Chemistry
    • Jim Birk, Emeritus Faculty
  • ASU CLAS Deans Office