This Complete Evidence-Based Practice paper details the use of peer sharing presentations in a learning strategies course designed for first-year engineering students. The learning strategies course is a component of PROGRAM at UNIVERSITY, whose overall goal is to increase the retention of engineering students entering the university with underprepared calculus skills [1, 2]. More specifically, the purpose of the course is to equip students with effective personal and professional skills related to self-regulatory behaviors, learning strategies, and habits of mind, while simultaneously building their awareness of available academic resources. One major, iterative assignment in the course is a series of four journals in which students select a personal or professional strategy of interest and attempt to implement the strategy into their behaviors. Other course components are detailed elsewhere in literature and will be referenced in the complete paper.
Occurring before students select their strategy for each of the four journal assignments, peer sharing presentations allow students to become familiar with a number of potential strategies. The goal of the peer sharing presentations is to provide students with the opportunity to explore evidence-based practices and share their findings with peers. The peer sharing presentations are an innovative way for content to be delivered to and from students, allowing students to engage as active learners in the collaborative construction of new knowledge.
Each journal cycle focuses on a different set of personal or professional development topics. The first journal focused on personal development, with topics such as personal accountability, establishing a routine, organizing materials, eating a balanced diet, and stress relief. The second journal focused on learning strategies, with topics such as creating concept maps, interleaving, crafting study guides, and utilizing the Feynman Technique. The third journal focused on topics related to time and energy management. For the final journal, students could choose one area of interest to them and create their own presentation topic. Students were expected to continue utilizing each of their strategies throughout the semester and document their progress through regular journal check-ins.
The peer sharing presentation process includes students selecting an evidence-based strategy of interest from a list curated by the instructor, learning about the selected strategy, creating a set of informative and engaging slides, presenting their findings to peers, and reflecting on their peers’ presentations. While the purpose of the curated list is to direct students to effective strategies, students have the option of selecting an evidence-based strategy not included on the list with permission from the instructor. Once a topic is selected, students seek out and utilize high quality sources to research their strategy and create two - and only two - presentation slides about the topic. The slides must include why the topic is significant or relevant, tips for applying the strategy, and potential cautions or challenges. The small number of required slides supports critical thinking by forcing students to be selective in determining the most important information related to their topic.
Students present the topics in a modified “SpeedGeek” format . In the adapted format, students have two to three minutes to succinctly present the two slides they have prepared, Presentations occur in rotating pairs or small groups, allowing each student to hear six to eight presentations about various topics during the class period. Following the presentations, students reflect on the two presentations they found had the greatest impact on them personally, as well as what they plan to apply to their behaviors from the presentations. Students are able to see feedback provided to them by their peers anonymously regarding how their presentation impacted the other students in the class.
The effectiveness of peer sharing presentations as a course activity is evaluated through an exploratory qualitative approach. Data collected from student-created presentation slides, observations conducted during in-class presentations, and student reflections on their peers’ presentations is presented. Data are analyzed to identify salient themes and highlight impactful experiences with the peer sharing presentation activity. Anticipated results of the peer sharing presentations are deepened understanding of evidence-based personal and professional strategies, strengthened communication skills, and an enhanced sense of belonging. Best practices and lessons learned for implementation are discussed.
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