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2011 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mathematics Instruction

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mathematics Instructions recognizes faculty who have implemented an outstanding instructional method for teaching undergraduate mathematics at the City University of New York (CUNY). These instructional techniques must be shown to positively impact student learning and to have the potential to be used with many students. Professor Liou-Mark’s award recognizes the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) instructional model which has promoted student success in mathematics. Students actively learn in a small group facilitated by a peer leader. In a typical workshop, six to eight students meet with a peer leader for one or two hours per week to solve carefully structured problems that are designed to foster problem-solving abilities. The faculty is closely involved by creating workshop problems and activities. These modules utilize key course concepts, channel student efforts into effective collaboration, and provide applications that are meaningful and relevant to the students. The workshops are integrated into the course, providing an opportunity for students to discuss their understanding of the concepts presented in the lecture in a supportive environment. A trained peer leader plays an indispensable role by clarifying goals, ensuring that the team members engage with the materials and with each other, building commitment and confidence, and encouraging debate and discussion. The peer leaders are students who have previously done well in the course and indicate leadership potential. Results from several studies on implementing PLTL workshops in mathematics courses that typically have high failure rates have shown improved pass rates and increased retention rates.


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