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Research and Evaluation

We emphasize evaluation and continuous improvement, and we engage in research to better understand the experience and impact of academic support. Many of these projects are based on our own programming.

On the impact of peer learning support

These papers report on research investigating both the academic and the non-academic impact of peer learning support.

Micari, M., & Pazos, P. (2021). Beyond Grades: Improving College Students' Social-Cognitive Outcomes in STEM Through a Collaborative Learning Environment. Learning Environments Research, 24(1), 123-136. Selected Best Journal Article of 2021, American Educational Research Association Learning Environments SIG.

Micari, M. & Pazos, P. (2018). Small fish in a small pond: The impact of collaborative learning on academic success for less-prepared students in a highly selective environment. Higher Education Research & Development, 38(2), 294-306.

Drane, D., Micari, M., & Light, G. (2014). Students as teachers: Effectiveness of a peer-led STEM learning program over 10 years. Educational Research and Evaluation, 20(3), 210-230.

Micari, M., & Drane, D. (2007). Promoting success: Possible factors behind achievement of underrepresented students in a peer-led small group STEM workshop programJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 13(3), 279–293.

‌Pazos, P., Drane, D., Light, G., & Munkeby, A. (2007). A peer-led team learning program for freshmen engineering students: Impact on retention. Proceedings of the 2007 American Society for Engineering Education Southeastern Section Conference.

Drane, D., Smith, H.D., Light, G., Pinto, L., & Swarat, S. (2005). The Gateway Science Workshop program: Enhancing student performance and retention in the sciences through peer-facilitated discussion. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4(3), 227–352. 

‌Micari, M., Streitwieser, B., & Light, G. (2005). Undergraduates leading undergraduates: Peer facilitation in a science workshop programInnovative Higher Education, 30(4), 269–288.

‌Munkeby, A., Drane, D., & Light, G. (2005). Supporting innovative freshman study: The engineering workshop program at Northwestern University. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Portland, Oregon.

On the characteristics of peer learning support

These papers address the relative impact of various approaches to learning-group organization and peer facilitation in academic-support settings.

Micari, M., Van Winkle, Z., & Pazos, P. (2016). Among friends: The role of academic-preparedness diversity in individual performance within a small-group STEM learning environment. International Journal of Science Education, 38(12), 1904–1922.

‌Micari, M., Pazos, P., Streitwieser, B., & Light, G. (2010). Small-group learning in undergraduate STEM disciplines: Effect of group type on student achievementEducational Research and Evaluation, 16(3), 269-286. 

Pazos, P., Micari, M., & Light, G. (2010). Developing an instrument to characterize peer-led groups in collaborative learning environments: Assessing problem-solving approach and group interaction. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(2), 191-208.

On academic help-seeking

‌These papers address the the experience of seeking academic help as a college student.

Micari, M., & Calkins, S. (2021). Is it OK to ask? The impact of instructor openness to questions on student help-seeking and academic outcomes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 22(2), 143-157.

Micari, M., & Pazos, P. (2014). Worrying about what others think: A social comparison–concern intervention in small learning groups. Active Learning in Higher Education, 15(3), 249–262.

Micari, M., & Drane, D. (2011). Intimidation in small learning groups: The roles of social-comparison concern, comfort, and individual characteristics in student academic outcomes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 12, 175–187.

Micari, M., & Light, G. (2009). Reliance to Independence: Approaches to learning in peer-led undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workshops. International Journal of Science Education, 31(13), 1713–1741.

On college teaching & learning

These projects address approaches to teaching and learning in STEM, by both peer learning facilitators and college instructors.

‌Light, G., & Micari, M. (2013). Making scientists: Six principles for effective college teaching. Harvard University Press. Based on Northwestern's Gateway Science Workshop program.

Streitwieser, B., & Light, G. (2011). When undergraduates teach undergraduates: Conceptions of and approaches to teaching in a peer-led team learning intervention in the STEM disciplines: Results of a two year studyInternational Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 22(3), 346-356. 

Micari, M., Knife Gould, A., & Lainez, L. (2010). Becoming a leader along the way: Embedding leadership training into a large-scale peer-learning program in the STEM disciplinesJournal of College Student Development, 51(2), 218-230.