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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v13.i3.60
pages 295-315

PROMOTING SUCCESS: POSSIBLE FACTORS BEHIND ACHIEVEMENT OF UNDERREPRESENTED STUDENTS IN A PEER-LED SMALL-GROUP STEM WORKSHOP PROGRAM

Marina Micari
Searle Center for Teaching Excellence, Northwestern University
Denise Drane
Northwestern University

ABSTRACT

The literature suggests that peer-led, small-group learning in the STEM disciplines is particularly beneficial to underrepresented students. In this paper we explore possible reasons for this differential benefit by examining the case of a peer-led program at a highly selective, research-intensive university. We discuss factors previously identified as important for minority students' successes in conjunction with interview and focus group data from participants in the program. Taken as a whole, this information suggests that peer-led small-group learning programs can help to counteract some of the barriers to successful learning that are common to all undergraduates but are particularly detrimental to the performance of underrepresented students. Finally, we offer suggestions for implementing critical qualities of peer-led small-group programs in large lecture classes.