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C. Kaur, L. Macquarie

Monash University (AUSTRALIA)
In this paper, we investigate whether the success of changes implemented to encourage peer collaboration in a large postgraduate statistics unit with heterogeneous student cohorts is affected by class size. Upon enrolment, students demonstrate varying levels of statistical literacy and numeracy, with many lacking understanding of basic concepts. These factors are thought to contribute to low levels of peer interaction in tutorials. We also argue that the provision of multiple tutorials in a traditional setting, with 25 students and one facilitator, diminishes the consistency of delivery and application of key statistical concepts. We investigate an approach to combining tutorial group work and “super tutorials” that promote an effective and interactive learning environment for a large quantitative unit. In an attempt to diminish disparities and improve consistency in the delivery and application of key statistical concepts co-teaching and “super-tutorials” were introduced within which students were allocated into small groups. Furthermore, a personal response system (PRS) that allows for both individual and team-based responses to questions was utilised. The use of the PRS within tutorials that cater for group work allows facilitators to effectively engage with students and obtain real-time feedback. This style of question delivery, referred to as team-based learning modules, were used in both traditional-sized tutorials (25 students with one facilitator) and larger “super-tutorials” (50 students with two facilitators). Team-based learning modules were introduced based on the constructivist perspective which advocates that groups of learners collaboratively construct and share basic knowledge as a learning community. In both types of tutorials, it was found that PRS can enhance peer collaboration. The focus of the current work is to investigate whether the size of the tutorial class also impacts on this success. In this paper, we compare data obtained from both large and small tutorials from team-based modules and surveys. We compared the improvement in responses from individual students and groups both tutorial sizes. In general, students performed better in groups compared to individually. We also analysed student perceptions of the effectiveness of team-based modules. Overall, our research suggests that use of the PRS can enhance peer collaboration and their learning experience. Additionally the combination of a PRS within a team-based learning module encourages collaborative learning in both small and large classes. Moreover, we found that “super-tutorials” have been more effective in promoting peer collaboration in comparison to traditional-sized tutorials.