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What Are Chemistry Workshops?

In chemistry workshops, a peer-leader and no more than ten fellow students work together to solve problems through discussion and one-on-one interaction. Read on to learn more about chemistry workshops and the training the workshops include.

Chemistry Workshops Defined

A chemistry workshop is a peer-led, team-learning (PLTL) program that is integrated into a college chemistry course. All of the science disciplines have PLTL workshops, but they occur more often in chemistry courses. A PLTL group usually consists of six to eight students and a student leader who has recently completed the course. You'll meet on a regular basis, usually once a week in place of a lecture period. During the meetings, you'll solve problems as a team. Since you're working with a peer-leader instead of a professor, the atmosphere is more informal, and you have the freedom to question and debate answers with the leader. You're allowed to make mistakes and learn from them and to devise multiple approaches to solving a problem in a small group environment.

Important Facts about Chemistry Workshops

Program Levels Workshops are often part of a degree program, but sometimes they are offered independently for non-major students.
Common Topics Chemistry content, logical reasoning, understanding motivation, foundation in learning theory among others
Prerequisites Many of these courses require introductory chemistry or the permission of the instructor
Key Skills Basic grasp of chemistry and a desire to help others learn
Median Pay (2018) $78,330 (for all chemists)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 7% (for all chemists)

Purpose of the Workshops

The PLTL concept originated in the early 1990s in a chemistry class at the City College of New York (www.pltl.org). The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Center for Peer-Led Team Learning have developed a national workshop program to increase and improve student learning. Consistent results prove that PLTL workshops substantially improve learning and test results across the board, especially for minorities and women. In these groups, the leader works with you to complete workshop study problems and to understand the lecture material. The peer-leader does not give solutions and has no answer keys. Instead, he or she works with you to help you discover the answers. The leader involves every person in the group and tailors the learning to specific needs.

Training for Peer-Leaders

The course professor trains former students, who have excelled in the class, as peer-leaders. The training usually consists of an initial session and weekly meetings during the semester. You'll explore how to facilitate learning without lecturing or giving the answers. You'll also learn how to meet individual student's needs and how to deal with any issues that arise. Once a school makes the decision to implement PLTL workshops, it can apply for grants to help pay the team leaders. Institutions such as the NSF are possible sources for such grants.