These suggestions are great, Catherine!  We do not use contracts for PLTL currently, but on the first day, they do a “group rules” exercise, where the students in the group come up with their own set of rules to make the group successful.  I do it that way because they generally come up with the same list of rules we’d impose upon them anyway (be prepared, be on time, be respectful and helpful toward each other, etc.), but if they come up with the rules themselves, it’s easier to get them to buy in (at least in theory). 

 

One of the things I’m struggling with is that the course is taught entirely by adjunct faculty, and it’s impossible to gather them all together for professional development.  In our pilot semester, they were not all on the same page.  I sent them an article on PLTL that described the theoretical underpinnings and included success data across STEM disciplines going back many years, in the hope that they would buy in.  Some did, some not so much.  But I’m still working on them!

 

Would you mind sharing what your learning contract looks like?  I use a contract for a targeted tutoring intervention we do, but that’s one-on-one, so it’s probably pretty different.

 

Thanks again!  This was really helpful!

 

Michele

 

From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Burns, Catherine
Sent: Friday, November 9, 2018 11:05 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Managing behavioral issues in mandatory peer-led group sessions

 

Michelle,

Here are some options:

 

Foremost, I would involve the faculty. If the sessions are mandatory, the faculty should be explaining the requirements to their students. A meeting with the faculty member (s) sounds warranted. You could explain the issues and how the faculty can help avoid them. Contracts are one option.

 

Leaders could take session notes and then send them to the faculty members, so there is communication about which students are prepared and engaged and which are not.

 

I would not give in to student demands to reteach, since that is not the session leader's role. It also enables the students, and it demonstrates that if they kick up a fuss, they will get their way.

 

Do the leaders assign work? One way to increase participation from the resisters is to make students more responsible for their learning. They can design the activities themselves, be assigned work in pairs or smaller groups, etc., but that may not work unless you have support for learning contracts. 

 

Catherine

 

Catherine Burns

Tutoring Coordinator/CAP supervisor

Southern Vermont College

802-447-4674

 

 

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On Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 1:28 PM Michele Doney <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi all,

 

If you are doing any sort of mandatory support where students are working in groups led by peers, how to you train your peer leaders to respond to behavioral issues?  We are running a PLTL pilot this semester, but I imagine the same thing comes up with other, similar models, such as PAL or SI if those sessions are mandatory.  We have groups of about 8 students each, led by peer leaders, doing practice problems selected by the faculty.  Sessions are mandatory, which means students have to be there whether they want to be or not, although not every instructor seems to be enforcing the attendance requirement the same way.  Some of the struggles the PLTL leaders have reported include:

 

1.       Some students just don’t want to be there and are difficult or impossible to engage.  A few of the leaders have just given up and are just letting those students watch while others engage in collaborative learning activities

2.       The stronger students are bored, and the weaker students are embarssed to have other students see how much they’re struggling to get it.  Pairing stronger students with weaker students doesn’t seem to be helping in every case.

3.       Some groups have put a lot of pressure in the leaders to re-teach the material, and they are resistant to engaging in collaborative learning activities until the leader does a mini-review of what happened in class.  Some leaders are standing their ground and having the students develop the review themselves, while others have given in and are starting every session with a mini-lecture on the things already covered in class, rather than having students rely on classnotes, textbooks, and each other.

4.       In some groups, hardly any students are showing up prepared with classnotes and textbooks.  In some cases, a reminder from the instructor has helped.  In other cases, especially where the instructor is lacking in buy-in for the model, the problem is chronic.

 

The leaders are asking for help.  Sometimes my suggestions help, sometimes not so much.  Have you found any effective strategies to address any or all of these issues? 

 

Thanks!

Michele

 

 

 

Michele Costabile Doney, M.S.Ed.

Director, Student Academic Consulting Center & Immersion Programs

NCLCA Learning Center Leadership Certification Level Three

Baruch College, CUNY

55 Lexington Avenue, Box B2-116

New York, NY 10010

[log in to unmask]

646-312-4833

 

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