Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is a model of teaching that preserves the lecture and replaces recitation in science courses with a weekly two-hour session. During these interactive sessions (workshops), six to eight students work as a team to solve carefully constructed problems under the guidance of a peer leader. Web conferencing software makes it possible to adapt this face to face pedagogy to a synchronous online environment. This led to the development of cyber Peer-Led Team Learning (cPLTL). Preliminary data gathered through our implementation of cPLTL at IUPUI indicates that it is possible for students to engage in productive problem solving under the guidance of a peer leader in a synchronous online environment via web conferencing software.
cPLTL methods engage students as active participants, not passive recipients, in online activities that involve complex problem solving, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, and fostering self-directed learning.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Purdue University (PU) at West Lafayette in Indiana, and Florida International University (FIU) are participating as a consortium to test the transportability of Cyber Peer-Led Team Learning (cPLTL) developed at IUPUI. The model has been studied and is showing positive impact on student learning in introductory chemistry. Purdue and Florida International Universities (FIU) were selected as replication sites because they have the infrastructure and the interest necessary for introducing cPLTL into their introductory biology courses. Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL), the face-to-face predecessor to cPLTL, has proven to be a high-impact pedagogy in the Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines (Gafney & Varma-Nelson, 2008; Gosser, Kampmeier & Varma-Nelson, 2010). This project has made it accessible in the online environment.