MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., October 19, 2009 - Dorothy Cheng ('09 - B.S. Mathematics and Statistics) and Matthew Walters (graduate student - EdPA) collaborated on a quantitative observational study of the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) program of the SMART Learning Commons at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. SMART's PAL program organizes structured group study sessions, facilitated by exemplary undergraduate students, for challenging college courses.
Data was analyzed on over 500 students in two undergraduate math courses, revealing a positive correlation between PAL session attendance and increased odds of academic success. The exciting results of this study are highlighted in the article, "Peer-assisted learning in mathematics: An observational study of student success", recently featured in the peer-reviewed Australasian Journal of Peer Learning (Vol 2, Issue 1, 2009).
"The impressive academic performance of PAL attendees observed in this study is encouraging", noted Walters, "and the social and professional development fostered by peer cooperative learning is critical to the life-long success of our graduates". PAL sessions follow a set of guiding principles developed by David Arendale (Associate Professor PsTL) and Kari-Ann Ediger (graduate student - EdPSY). These guidelines aim to promote positive group interdependence, individual accountability, interpersonal communication, and cooperation through carefully structured peer cooperative learning sessions.
Cheng, herself a former session leader, commented, "From the feedback I received from students as a PAL facilitator, I could tell they enjoyed the sessions and really believed PAL helped them succeed."
The article can be viewed at http://ro.uow.edu.au/ajpl/vol2/iss1/