Achievement through small-group discussion sessions in large general chemistry lecture classes with the aid of undergraduate peer teaching assistants
This research in chemistry education was a scholarly investigation focused on the important factors associated with enhancing the abilities of students to perceive the principles and concepts of general chemistry. Through a sequence of three studies, the existing learning theories and methodologies were adapted to a new learning model for small group structuring. In this effort, undergraduate peer teachers (pTAs) were employed as facilitators of multiple small-groups of general chemistry students during weekly discussion sessions. The results from the studies indicated that the small-group discussion sessions for general chemistry classes of more that 400 students were beneficial in respect to achievement. In addition, the third study examined the effectiveness of trained pTA facilitators (no student interaction by pTAs) versus pTA tutors (minimal student interaction by pTAs) as supervisors of small-group discussion for the ultimate goal of constructing a learning model which benefits undergraduate students’ achievement, motivation, and engagement during the first semester of general chemistry in a large lecture environment.