Saturday, April 5, 2014

URSP Student Mariam Waqar Researches the Effect of Peer-Peer Tutoring on Students in Biostatistics

Coming into Mason, I knew I wanted to do some sort of research but I didn’t really know where my niche was. Science research didn’t really appeal to me, as I really wanted to work with people as a part of my project. At the beginning of my Sophomore year, I decided to pursue a major in Biology with a concentration in Education, and this is when many doors opened for me.

As a sophomore, I got involved with the STEM Accelerator Learning Assistant Program, and started to tutor for Cell Biology and Biostatistics. Through this avenue, I found my passion for teaching and education. This semester, I started working with my mentors, Dr. Claudette Davis and Professor Kevin Chavers, who teach Cell Biology and Biostatistics respectively. We will be studying the effects of peer-to-peer tutoring on student progress, as measured by exam grades, in BIOL 214: Statistics for Biology Majors. On a weekly basis, I tutor for five hours, and before exams, I lead orals, which are student-led tutoring sessions and also do one large review. The orals are of significant importance because they encourage students to teach each other through a team-based problem solving approach. One interesting thing I’ve found throughout this process is that students respond very well to orals, and sometimes form study groups as a result of them. This ultimately leads them to become much more proactive in their studies, leading to a higher level of performance on exams. The attendance at these events also helps in collecting data for our project.

By gaining this experience in creating an innovative Education approach, it will help me develop teaching strategies in my future career, as I plan on pursuing Academia in some form or another. A Group of my students during weekly orals (attached photo)