© 2008

Peer-Led Team Learning: Evaluation, Dissemination, and Institutionalization of a College Level Initiative


Part of the Innovations in Science Education and Technology book series (ISET, volume 16)

About this book


This book is a real-world study of Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL), a method in which undergraduates work together, under the guidance of a peer leader, in course-connected workshops. PLTL is intended to complement lecture.

The text explains how the method evolved into a teaching/learning model. The evaluation uncovered six critical components for successful implementation. Evaluation at each new site looked at implementation, comparing methods, materials, training, and organizational arrangements with what had been found to work effectively. Those disseminating the model used the critical components to frame their presentations. Dissemination of the method is carefully documented and analyzed.

Evaluation of the program’s effectiveness was shared. Instructors compared grades of classes or cohorts of students with and without PLTL, with different kinds of controls. The external evaluator measured the quality of implementation, student satisfaction, the impact on leaders, and other factors. Finally, this study looks closely at institutionalization: the essential factors necessary for a program’s sustainability. The evaluation explained in this text is transportable to other programs and pedagogies.

"Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is one of the success stories resulting from the National Science Foundation's investment in educational innovation. Gafney and Varma-Nelson provide a coherent, tour-de-force look at the in-depth research that has been carried out, not only to understand the effect of PLTL on student learning, but also to understand the nature of the pedagogical method itself.  This monograph is a jam-packed, one-stop destination for anyone who wants to learn what it means to understand a widespread pedagogical development in post-secondary science education."

Brian Coppola, University of Michigan


College Training evaluation innovation institutionalization learning peer-led team learning program implementation teaching undergraduate peer leaders

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Independent EvaluatorLakevilleUSA
  2. 2.Northeastern Illinois UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Purdue UniversityIndianapolis

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

This book is a must read for anyone writing their first proposal for NSF's TUES (formerly CCLI) program!
Overall, I believe that this book will become an important resource for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty because Gafney and Varma-Nelson offer insight in addition to knowledge they have gained. Most importantly, this book should have broad appeal because the authors are able to get their points across with clarity and rigor without getting bogged down with too much jargon.

Gautam Bhattacharyya teaches Chemistry at Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA

“The authors’ focus is to describe the mechanics of developing an initiative locally, expanding it to a national level, and evaluating its impacts on multiple sets of stakeholders. … the goal of this book is to offer a ‘big picture’ account; thus, readers must consult individual papers to get details of the studies. … Overall, I believe that this book will become an important resource for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty … .” (Gautam Bhattacharyya, Journal of Chemical Education, December, 2010)