Date of Award

June 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Science Teaching


Jason R. Wiles


Course Achievement, Peer-Led Team Learning, Role Model, Science Education, STEM, Student Learning Gains

Subject Categories



This study sought to connect the literature on Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) to the work on student-teacher interactions as well as STEM role models. Student and peer leader interactions were explored to determine the effect of these interactions on student learning outcomes. Students and their peer leaders were both asked to determine the student’s learning gains from the PLTL course. Perceived learning gains were measured using a modified version of the Student Assessment of their Learning Gains (SALG) instrument. Peer leader responses were paired with their student’s responses to determine differences in peer leader ability to discern learning gains, learning gains from students in different groups, and to identify the pairings that were most closely aligned. Qualitative data from open-ended questionnaires collected from the peer leaders were used to establish contributing factors of these findings. The ability to relate to the student was found to be an important factor in peer leader’s ability to assess learning gains and establishing a positive relationship between student and peer leader. Relatability was further shown to positively and significantly influence student’s final grade in the course, as well as increase student perceived learning gains. When students considered their peer leaders to be a role model, perceived learning gains significantly increased but there was no measurable effect on final course grade. Positive interactions with the peer leader were shown to benefit all students, regardless of their chosen major. Qualitative responses from peer leaders and students were analyzed to identify the factors contributing to role model status.


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