A study of the effects of the implementation of small peer led collaborative group learning on students in developmental mathematics courses at a tribal community college
Hooker, Dianna Dawn Tiahrt
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College students needing remediation in mathematics are a problem at nearly all colleges and universities but are immense at community colleges where large numbers of students enroll in developmental mathematics courses. This issue for Native American students at Tribal Community Colleges has an enormous effect on future opportunities in education, employment, politics and society. The overarching research question was: How does the implementation of small peer-led collaborative learning groups affect students in developmental mathematics courses at the Tribal Community College? To answer this question five sub-questions were addressed. What impact will the treatment have on: 1) completion, 2) perseverance, 3) demonstrated procedures of mathematics, 3) personal skills for success, and 4) the leaders' perceptions of the benefits associated with acting as small peer led collaborative group leader? This research study took place at a small Tribal Community College. The quasi-experimental, mixed methods study involved collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. The treatment class consisted of having the students work together on a workshop activity designed to be engaging, challenging and relevant for one class period each week in small peer-led collaborative learning groups. Peer leaders were chosen according to predetermined criteria. The peer leaders were trained to help guide the group in the direction of a solution and to help the group learn how to collaborate to achieve the best results. The control class was given the same workshop activity to work on, but not encouraged to work together nor assisted by a peer leader. Results of this research study show increased completion and perseverance rates. Students participating in the small peer-led collaborative groups were more likely to attempt mathematics. The attitude toward mathematics was the most drastic change; students now look forward to attending their mathematics class and spend more time out of class doing mathematics. Group leaders gained personal, academic and leadership skills. Detailed descriptions of the results are given. In conclusion, implications of the findings and how they may be used are provided for mathematics instructors, administrators and student support personnel are offered. Recommendations for further research are also suggested.