Replicating Peer-Led Team Learning in Cyberspace: Research, Opportunities, and Challenges


This quasi-experimental, mixed methods study examined the transfer of a well-established pedagogical strategy, Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL), to an online workshop environment (cPLTL) in a general chemistry course at a research university in the Midwest. The null hypothesis guiding the study was that no substantive differences would emerge between the two workshop settings. Students in the PLTL (n = 220) condition were more satisfied with their workshop and earned statistically significantly higher course grades, yet earned comparable standardized final exam scores. They also had lower incidence of students’ earning D or F course grades or withdrawing from the course (DFW rates) than students in the cPLTL setting (n = 175). Interviews with 10 peer leaders and 2 faculty members, as well as discourse analysis of workshop sessions, revealed more similarities than differences in the two conditions. The final exam scores and discourse analysis support the null hypothesis and use of both face-to-face and synchronous online peer-led workshops in early science courses.

Authors: Joshua Smith, Sarah Beth Wilson, Julianna Banks, Lin Zhu, and Pratibha Varma-Nelson

© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 51: 714–740, 2014

Download Resources