The effects of a innovative peer learning programme on undergraduate Science students

Johnston, Jennifer and McClelland, George (2011) The effects of a innovative peer learning programme on undergraduate Science students. [Conference Proceedings]


Undergraduate Science Students were supported through an innovative Peer Learning programme utilising undergraduate Peer Leaders in a Science Support Centre at the University of Limerick. This paper aims to investigate the effects the Peer Learning programme had on the science students’ attitude, confidence and understanding of Physics. Research supports the concept of involvement in college, the greater the student’s involvement, the greater the amount of student learning and personal development [Astin, Bloom and Whiteman]. There is strong evidence from research carried out world wide that Peer Learning when implemented effectively is sustainable. In this study Peer Learning represents a two-way, reciprocal learning experience. It provides students especially the Peer Leaders with the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning. This study evolved from a recent PhD study on Peer Learning utilising undergraduate science teachers carried out in the Physics Dept at the University of Limerick. The Peer Learning model involved the students working in cooperative groups with a Peer Leader as a facilitator of their learning. Weekly science support tutorials were delivered through Peer Learning during the autumn and spring semesters 2009/2010 in first year undergraduate science modules. A questionnaire was administered to the entire group of undergraduate taking first year physics. This paper presents findings from the science students’ attitude, experience, understanding and confidence in Physics. For example, qualitative data reports that those students who attended the Peer Learning support tutorials had a positive experience and they felt they had benefited from the programme.ReferencesAstin, A. W. (1999) ‘Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education’, Journal of College Student Development, 40 (5), 518 – 529.Bloom, B. (1974) ‘Time and Learning’, American Psychologist, 29 (9), 682 - 688.Whitman, N. (1988) Peer Teaching: To Teach is to Learn Twice, ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4. Washington DC: Jossey-Bass Inc. BOOK LAUNCH

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