Embedding Peer-Assisted Tutoring in a Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Tutor and Tutee Experiences

Kieran, Patricia, Malone, Dermot and O'Neill, Geraldine (2011) Embedding Peer-Assisted Tutoring in a Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Tutor and Tutee Experiences. [Conference Proceedings]


Peer-Assisted Tutoring, a form of Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) or Supplemental Instruction (SI), has been sustainably introduced to the curriculum for a 4-year, professionally-accredited degree programme in Chemical Engineering at University College Dublin. Small-group, peer-assisted tutorials (PATs) are currently associated with two core (compulsory) 3rd Year modules: (i) Unit Operations, (ii) Computational Methods in Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. For Unit Operations, the PATs provide 3rd Year students (the Tutees) with regular opportunities to work together, solving lecturer-defined problems, related specifically to the course material. For Computational Methods, the Tutees work both individually and collectively on computer-based implementation of numerical methods for the analysis of Chemical/Bioprocess Engineering systems. In both cases, the PATs are facilitated by 4th Year students (the Tutors). The system is now in its third year of operation and has been warmly received by both Tutors and Tutees. This paper reports on the development and implementation of the system, with reference to the experiences of both Tutors and Tutees. Tutor training and evaluation is now facilitated through a 5-credit, elective module: 'Peer-Assisted Tutoring in Chemical Engineering'. (Development of this module was supported by NAIRTL.) To date, Tutors have reported improved understanding of the relevant engineering principles, increased confidence in group management and a sense of satisfaction in supporting others in their learning. Tutees identified the PATs as a supportive and productive learning environment; they welcomed the opportunity to work with and learn from the Tutors; they felt more confident in tackling relevant problems. The enthusiasm of the Tutees for the system has yielded a steady supply of Tutors, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the system. Although developed specifically for a Chemical Engineering curriculum, the PATs have obvious potential for implementation in other engineering and scientific programmes.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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