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Center for Workshop Education

Resources for Instructors—New

Contact the Center for Workshop Education (CWE) or the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL) for all of your questions related to PLTL Workshops.

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Getting Started

Peer Leaders must be carefully chosen and supported.

  • Potential peer leaders can be recruited through advertising and personal invitation.
  • Potential peer leaders must be competent in the subject.
  • Potential leaders should be carefully screened through a group interview process.
  • Once selected, leaders should have clear expectations outlined for them. A contract of leaders’ rights and responsibilities should be signed well before the semester begins.
  • During the Workshop semester, leaders need to be supported through weekly leader training sessions and activities associated with leader training (e.g., completing leader journals).

The ongoing collaboration among the instructor, the student leaders, and the CETL learning specialist is essential.

  • The leader training curriculum should be the result of a collaboration between the CETL learning specialist and the faculty.
  • Faculty participation in the full leader training program is a crucial element of the model.

Workshops need to be well integrated into the course.

  • Weekly Workshop sessions are typically between 75 minutes and 120 minutes long.
  • Problems should be challenging; they should require the entire time allotted to complete.
  • The materials should be formatted to promote group interaction, rather than solo "plug and chug" practice.
  • The connection between Workshop problems and exams should be readily apparent to the students.
  • Some faculty members award a modest amount of course credit for attending and actively participating in Workshops (~10% of the final grade or less).

Practical matters need to be addressed:

  • In conjunction with the CETL learning specialist, the curriculum for the leader training course should be designed to reflect the specific nature of the content course.
  • The leader training meeting time and location should be established well before the semester starts (ideally before hiring the Workshop leaders).
  • Workshop locations should be set before the semester begins. Please visit Staff Resources to find the College and CETL's room reservation policy as well as a list of workshop friendly rooms. 
  • The size of Workshop groups should be between 6 and 10 students.
  • Financial and other issues related to compensation for Workshops leaders should be arranged by the content course department.


General Timeline

Well Before the Semester Begins:

  • Contact CETL to be directed to one of the co-directors for CWE.
  • Secure appropriate compensation for your leaders and other necessities (e.g., space considerations).

Before the Semester Begins:

  • Make contact with the CWE to establish a working relationship with a staff member who can serve as a co-instructor for the leader training course. Work closely with your CETL co-instructor  to develop a leader training curriculum that is appropriate to your course. Establish expectations and compensation for leaders prior to recruiting peer leaders.
  • About three to four weeks before the registration for the following semester, begin the recruiting and hiring process for peer-leaders with the help of one of the designated learning specialists. NOTE: Waiting too late in the semester to recruit leaders can substantially reduce the likelihood of securing the best talent for this group. These students are in high demand.
    • Advertise for potential leaders via group email, department web site, and personal invitation.
    • Hold an informational meeting for potential leaders just after the midterm period. Discuss the expectations for Workshop leaders. Inviting experienced leaders to talk to the new recruits works well.
    • In tandem with a learning specialist, interview leaders in groups. Together pick the best students for the job (i.e., the interviewees who demonstrated insight about learning, about group dynamics, and about the course material).
    • Once leaders are chosen (and before the end of the term), hold a contract signing meeting where expectations and compensation are reviewed once again both in discussion and in writing. Have leaders sign a contract.
  • Once the student leaders are selected, and therefore the number of Workshop groups determined, tackle the space and time issues both for Workshops and for leader training. (Workshop friendly rooms). Members of the CWE can offer advice about these matters.
  • Design Workshop problems. Workshop faculty are typically generous about sharing example materials.
  • Create a sign-up process for students to select their Workshop times.


Measuring Effectiveness

  • The outcomes of Workshops should be documented including the impact on in student grades and retention, and student and leader survey data.
  • A system is in place to evaluate the impact of Workshops using student grades and attendance. CWE staff can answer any questions about this process.
  • Student feedback should also be solicited from both Workshop participants and Workshop leaders. This can be achieved by:



Black, A. & Deci, E. (2000). The effects of instructors' autonomy support and students' autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science Education, 84 (6): 740-756.

Church, M., Elliot, A., Gable, S. (2001). Perceptions of classroom environment, achievement goals, and achievement outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 1, 43-44. 

Goldstein, E., & Roth, V. (2002). Peer-led team learning, in The Effective Academic: A Handbook for Enhanced Academic Practice. Ketteridge, S., Marshall, S., and Fry, H., Eds. London: Kogan Page, 2002.

Platt, T., Barber, E., Yoshinaka, A., & Roth, V. (2003). An innovative selection and training program for problem-based learning (PBL) workshop leaders in biochemistry. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 31, 132-136.

Roth, V. (2006). Faculty-Student partnerships: Developing engaged learning that works. Al Hagova 5: Journal on Teaching in Higher Education, May, 5, 22-23 [translated into Hebrew].

Roth, V., Goldstein, E., & Marcus, G. (2001). Peer-Led Team Learning: A Handbook for Team Leaders. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Roth, V., Urday, Z., Fernandes, N., Pawlicki, T. (December 2003). Performance outcomes: Computer Science 171 Programming students Fall 2002. UR Department of Computer Science Technical Report # 817. Available at:

Tien, L., Kampmeier, J., & Roth, V. (2004). A course to prepare peer leaders to implement a student-assisted learning method. Journal of Chemical Education, 81, 9, 1313 – 1321.

Tien, L., Kampmeier, J., & Roth, V. (2002). Implementation of a peer-led team learning instructional approach in an undergraduate chemistry course. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 7, 606-632.