Departmental Papers (CIS)

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Conference Paper


Postprint version. Copyright ACM, 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the 42nd ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (SIGCSE 2011), pages 207-212.

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The Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) approach has previously been shown to be e ffective in recruiting and retaining students, particularly under-represented students, in undergraduate introductory CS courses. In PLTL, small groups of students are led by an undergraduate peer and work together to solve problems related to CS. At Columbia University, the Columbia Emerging Scholars Program has used PLTL in an effort to increase enrollment in CS courses beyond the introductory level, and to increase the number of students who select Computer Science as their major, by demonstrating that CS is necessarily a collaborative activity that focuses more on problem solving and algorithmic thinking than on programming. Over the past five semesters, 68 students have completed the program, and preliminary results indicate that this program has had a positive eff ect on increasing participation in the major.

This paper discusses our experiences of building and expanding the Columbia Emerging Scholars program, and addresses such topics as recruiting, training, scheduling, student behavior, and evaluation. We expect that this paper will provide a valuable set of lessons learned to other educators who seek to launch or grow a PLTL program at their institution as well.


Human factors, Measurment, Peer-Let Team Learning, Emerging Scholars Program, Outreach, Women in Computer Science, Diversity, CS1



Date Posted: 06 June 2011

This document has been peer reviewed.