About the program
Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is a model of collaborative learning that supplements large lecture courses, typically in science and mathematics. In PLTL, 8-10 students work together on a packet designed to develop course-relevant problem-solving skills in a study group facilitated by a Peer Leader.
At Washington University, PLTL was introduced in General Chemistry in 2001 and has since been expanded to Calculus I/II/III. New for Fall 2018: PLTL for Physics 197
Research on PLTL at Washington University has contributed to a growing body of scholarship demonstrating its effectiveness in improving student learning. Insights drawn from this research inform the ongoing improvement of PLTL programs here and around the country.
For more information about PLTL, visit https://circle.wustl.edu/collaborations/peer-led-team-learning/philosophy/
Calculus I, II, and III
General Chemistry I and II
Physics I and II
How to participate in PLTL
The PLTL application will open at 5:00 p.m. on the first day of class.
After that time, the form will be available here and via links on the Blackboard sites for Calculus I/II/III, Gen Chem and the Canvas site for Intro Physics.
- Students who sign up before 1:00 p.m. on Friday during the first week of class are guaranteed consideration* for placement into a group.
- Students who contact the program directors after that time will be put on a waitlist and placed into groups if spots become available. Each program may have different rules and/or deadlines for processing late additions.
PLTL groups begin meeting the weekend after the second week of classes each semester. Attendance is mandatory to promote a productive group experience for all students.
*Students who apply for Physics by the deadline will be given priority for placement into groups. If there is more demand than there are spots available, students will be placed on a waitlist. Students who apply for Calc or Chem by the deadline are guaranteed placement.
Meet the Mentor: Rachel Ockner
“I am a rising senior studying math, secondary education, and Spanish. This is my 4th semester as a PLTL leader! What I like about the program is that it turns studying math into a more social activity, fostering not only confidence but also friendships.”
Rachel will be working as a Lead PLTL Mentor this fall, a position she held in Fall 2017 as well. In this role, she provides support to the program director by observing and providing feedback to the new PLTL leaders, developing training materials and collecting, evaluating and presenting survey results to improve programming.
Peer-Led Team Learning Leader Recruitment
Invitations to apply for PLTL Leader positions will be sent out in January. Students who have participated in PLTL and earned an A- or better in a relevant course who are interested in developing leadership skills in an academic setting are encouraged to apply. Application review, interviews and selection will be completed during the spring semester.
The People Behind PLTL at Washington University
Instructors (Leader Training)
- Chemistry: Megan Daschbach, Gabriela Szteinberg
- Mathematics: Lisa Kuehne, Jay Sriram
- Physics: Nicole Hudson
- CIRCLE/Chemistry: Gina Frey
- CIRCLE: Siera Stoen
- Chemistry: Susan Hocking, Sarah Luesse
- Cornerstone: Harvey Fields, Karen DeAngelis
- Mathematics: Blake Thornton
- Physics: Jason Woods
- The Teaching Center: Patrick Brown, Mitch Kundel, Bryn Lutes
What students say about PLTL
“The PLTL program was extremely beneficial because I could ask questions about problems that I didn’t understand and someone would be able to help me in a way that I could understand easily.”
“PLTL is the only place where the problems make you actually think about what you are doing and understand the concepts behind the problem solving.”
“I enjoyed how friendly my PLTL leader was and how willing other kids were to help me out.”
“It provided me with practice I probably would not have done otherwise and introduced me to problem-solving strategies I did not know.”
“The environment we had set up where we worked through the problems together, and then if anyone didn’t understand something, we remained on that problem and helped them until they got it. Also, if there was a problem that stumped us all, we all worked together suggesting different ideas to try to figure it out.”
Walk-In Help for Calculus
Between PLTL meetings, students are encouraged to visit walk-in help for questions about topics covered in class, homework problems and test preparation.
- Faculty office hours are posted on the class syllabi: Math Courses
- The Calc Help Room is staffed by Math TAs Monday-Friday 12pm-4pm. The calendar of these sessions can be found here: Calc Help Room Schedule
- Cornerstone mentors (RPMs and AMs) hold walk-in hours for calculus on evenings and weekends on the South 40.
PLTL Application Procedure
Applications for PLTL groups are submitted online starting on the first day of class during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students in Calculus, Chemistry and Physics will be provided with sign-up instructions and deadlines via email, Blackboard/Canvas and in-class announcements.