P940: Evolution of teaching strategies used by preceptors in general chemistry
In general chemistry classes nationwide, peer-led team learning (PLTL) has proven to be an effective teaching method. The general chemistry class in this study uses a modified form of PLTL where preceptor-led sessions supplement lectures to help facilitate student learning. Preceptors are upper-level undergraduate students who have previously earned a grade of A or B in the class and express interest in teaching. Preceptors support the course instructor by assisting with in-class activities, holding office hours, and conducting review sessions. Yet aside from the individual experiences of students and preceptors, it is not well known how preceptors interact with students to help them learn in this model. To investigate this, we video-recorded preceptors interacting with students during preceptor-led sessions. We characterized many of the teaching strategies used by preceptors and identified an evolution in the use of these strategies as a preceptor gained experience. This evolution supports current research in learning progressions, which suggests that conceptual understanding develops over time. It is important for preceptors to possess a strong conceptual understanding of chemistry as well as teaching strategies specific to the course content (pedagogical content knowledge), and this research indicates that both of these develop through experience. The results of this study are being used to implement a training program aimed at accelerating the development of pedagogical content knowledge and teaching skills for new preceptors.