Using Collaborative, Modified Peer Led Team LearningTo Improve Student Success and Retention in Intro CS Maureen Biggers, Indiana University Monica Sweat, Georgia Tech Tuba Yilmez, Georgia Tech
Why did we try it??What is it (not)?How does it work?How did it work?Student reactions?Impact on student success?Resources if you want to try it?
Community & academic achievement • Greater sense of academic community • Quality interaction with profs and peers • Higher test scores • Higher levels of student involvement • Higher levels of enthusiasm • Pursuit of topics to more advanced levels
Here’s How It Worked at GT • Chose dynamic student leaders to educate about PLTL and help lead the leaders • Selected leaders with strong interpersonal skills • Provided 2 day retreat training - partnered with teaching excellence campus $$$ resources • Materials and resources – manual • On-going meetings with instructor and leaders • Regular part of course for ALL students
rec·i·ta·tion (n.) The act of reciting memorized materials in a public performance. • work·shop (n.) An educational seminar or series of meetings emphasizing interaction and exchange of information among a usually small number of participants.
What the Workshop is NOT: • A reprise of the lecture • A recitation or Q & A session • A tutorial with a helper and helpee’s • An answer key to a problem set
What a workshop IS: • Small group collaborative solving • Challenging problems that encourage active learning, are relevant and good match to the students • Led by well trained student leaders who understand how to facilitate group problem solving
More of What it IS: • Well-integrated with the course content • Closely connected to the course instructor • Organizational arrangements must promote learning and good communication among members
Background • Intro to CS for majors • Fall enrollment 200+ • 3 hour lecture /week + • one hour recitation taught by undergraduate teaching assistant – passive one-way learning with no collaborative element • Recitations = 50 students and 2 UTA’s • No labs
Movie • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmMU0XUCnbU
What the Student Leaders Say • 1) Conversation with the students -Peer leader bond helped us find the 'pulse'2) Hands on -kept students engaged in active learning3) Context tailored to the particular section -Students had influence in picking activities4) Creative Freedom is fun -Students encouraged to add their own touch.5) Student-formed study groups -Nature of the PLTL session made it easy to meet people
Brittany – student first, then leader "PLTL was an experience that had a significant impact on my success as an Undergraduate student in Computer Science. Through my experiences in these workshops, I gained a sense of community with students who went through class with me. I have remained in contact with these students throughout my undergraduate studies and we have helped each other in other classes as well. ”
Sample Student Comment “The activities that I encountered in PLTL allowed me to become a better critical thinker, which helped me with Computer Science, but they also made me more excited about my major as a whole. We created a simple connect four game using Python, which showed me how to use a module that I had never seen and how to use an API for the first time. This activity gave me a real sense of achievement and helped to give me confidence in my abilities as a programmer."
Lessons Learned • Up front training is critical • On-going Time commitment is substantial • Resources needed – try partnering • Commitment to sustain program important • Student leaders with dynamic personalities
Results ? Recitation vs. PLTL
Resources • ‘09 SIGCSE Paper:Using Peer-Led Team Learning to Increase Participation and Success of Under-represented Groups in Introductory CS Time: Thursday, March 5, 3:45 PM -- 5:00 PM Room: Ballroom G • Website for PLTL activities for computer science http://www.pltlcs.org/index.php • PLTL Handbook and Guidebook – Prentice Hall • NCWIT Promising Practices: PLTL
Example • You have been hired by your friend to create an encoder for their journal. The problem is that their little brother likes to snoop on their computer and keeps finding information that would be valuable to him and embarrassing to your friend. A good cipher to protect against sneaky siblings is the rot13 cipher, because it uses the same encoder and decoder and is therefore easy for the user, but looks like gibberish to anyone else. The way this cipher works is that it takes a letter and changes it to the letter that is halfway through the alphabet from it. For example: “a” changes to “n” and “n” becomes “a”. I am including a key for you to reference when creating this encoder, remember what you have learned about string manipulation. • A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z • | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | • N O P Q R S T U VWXY Z A B C D E FG H I J K L M