Session S25a (Monday, 9:30am, Thomas 104)

P186: Exploration of peer leader verbal behaviors as they intervene with small groups in general chemistry

Ushiri Kulatunga, Jennifer Lewis (University of South Florida, USA)

Current literature has emphasized the lack of research into verbal behaviors of instructors as a barrier to understanding the effectiveness of instructional interventions. In order to fill that gap, this study focuses on the verbal behaviors of peer leaders, who serve as de facto instructors.   Peer leaders are either undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants and have received weekly training to support their classroom facilitation skills. Video data obtained throughout a semester of General Chemistry I from two different peer leaders, each interacting with a different group of students, was subjected to two rounds of qualitative data analysis. First, Toulmin’s argumentation framework was used to characterize the argument strength and the extent of participation among group members. Next, verbal behaviors exhibited by the peer leaders when they intervened in argumentation were examined.  This presentation reports on verbal behaviors that promote stronger argumentation and suggests strategies that instructors can use.


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