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     Access at the Crossroads Blog

    These blog entires identify best practices to increase success for historically-underrepresented college students including excerpts from my book, Access at the CrossroadsClick here to subscribe to this blog. Previously, I posted the new podcast episodes to this blog. I have now moved them to their own blog. Click on "my podcasts" tab above.


    Exploring the emotional intelligence of student leaders in the SI context

    James, C., & Templeman, E. (2015). Exploring the emotional intelligence of student leaders in the SI context. Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 27(2), 67-81. Retrieved from

    An exploratory study of the emotional intelligence (EI) of student leaders participating in a Supplemental Instruction (SI) program was conducted to determine whether a significant relationship exists between leadership effectiveness and EI as measured by the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) and to assess the impact of the leadership experience on EI scores through pre- and post-testing. The results revealed a statistically significant difference in the Total EQ-i of the more effective leaders as compared to the others. The more effective leaders also scored higher on all the EQ-i subscales, with the differences on Social Responsibility, Impulse Control, and Reality Testing being statistically significant. As for changes in EI, only the scores on the EQ-i Problem Solving subscale increased significantly between the pre- to post-testing sessions. Implications for practice and future research are addressed.

    To download the complete annotated bibliography of more than 1,100 citations of postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs, click on the following link,


    Peer-assisted learning program: A creative and effective learning approach at higher education

    Ghazali, R., & Ali, M. C. (2015). Peer-assisted learning program: A creative and effective learning approach at higher education. Journal of Applied Environmental Biological Science, 4(10), 39-44. Retrieved from,%204%2810S%2939-44,%202015.pdf

    The primary purpose of this article is to review the effect of Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) program on higher education.  Thus, this paper tries to explain the educational theories and concepts which support the effectiveness of the program. It also to identify the benefits and shortcomings of the program to the students who participated in the program based on the existing researches and experiences of some universities which had undertaken the schemes. The review is expected to highlight the best practices of PAL program adopted by universities. Lastly, recommendations from previous researches for a successful implementation of PAL were taken that to be used in the implementation of the program in the university, particularly for the accounting faculty.

    To download the complete annotated bibliography of more than 1,100 references with postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs, click on the following link,


    Students helping students: Evaluating a pilot program of peer teaching for an undergraduate course in human anatomy.

    Bruno, P. A., Love Green, J. K., Illerbrun, S. L., Holness, D. A., Illerbrun, S. J., Haus, K. A., & Sveinson, K. L. (2015). Students helping students: Evaluating a pilot program of peer teaching for an undergraduate course in human anatomy. Anatomical Sciences Education. doi: doi:10.1002/ase.1543. Retrieved from

    The educational literature generally suggests that Supplemental Instruction (SI) is effective in improving academic performance in traditionally difficult courses. A pilot program of peer teaching based on the SI model was implemented for an undergraduate course in human anatomy. Students in the course were stratified into three groups based on the number of peer teaching sessions they attended: nonattendees (0 sessions), infrequently attended (1-3 sessions), and frequently attended (_ 4 sessions). After controlling for academic preparedness [i.e., admission grade point average (AGPA)] using an analysis of covariance, the final grades of frequent attendees were significantly higher than those of nonattendees (P50.025) and infrequent attendees (P50.015). A multiple regression analysis was performed to estimate the relative independent contribution of several variables in predicting the final grade. The results suggest that frequent attendance (b50.245,P50.007) and AGPA (b50.555, P<0.001) were significant positive predictors, while being a first-year student (b520.217, P50.006) was a significant negative predictor. Collectively, these results suggest that attending a certain number of sessions may be required to gain a noticeable benefit from the program, and that first-year students (particularly those with a lower level of academic preparedness) would likely stand to benefit from maximally using the program. End-of-semester surveys and reports indicate that the program had several additional benefits, both to the students taking the course and to the students who served as program leaders.

    To download the complete annotated bibliography of more than 1,100 citations of postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs, click on the following link,


    The impact of Supplemental Instruction on the performance of male and female engineers in a freshmen chemistry course.

    Wisniewski, E. O., Shapiro, R. L., Kaeli, E., Coletti, K. B., DiMilla, P. A., & Reisberg, R. (2015). The impact of Supplemental Instruction on the performance of male and female engineers in a freshmen chemistry course. Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education Annual 122nd Conference, Seattle, WA. Retrieved from

    This study used statistical analysis to examine correlations between first year engineering students’ use of SI and their performance in a required general chemistry course at Northeastern University. Overall we found that students who used SI were more motivated in General Chemistry than their counterparts. We also draw the following specific conclusions from our data: Students who were more confident that they would receive a high grade in General Chemistry at the beginning of the course had a higher average grade threshold for seeking SI. Students who sought SI exhibited a positive correlation between grade threshold for seeking help outside the classroom and final grade received. Females who used SI had significantly higher grades than females who did not.  SI in the form of Chem Central, the Connections Chemistry Review, and the COE Tutoring Office were all found to have the potential to have a significant positive impact on students’ grades. Students who did not use SI were significantly more likely to skip lecture than students who do attend SI. Increased absenteeism in lecture was associated with lower final grades in both fall 2013 and fall 2014. Females were more likely to attend lecture regularly than males. When extra credit incentives were offered to attend lecture, both genders skipped significantly fewer lectures and received significantly higher grades.  We believe the results we have found regarding relationships between students’ use of SI and their success in General Chemistry for Engineers can be applied to improve SI across the freshman engineering curriculum. For example, as Chem Central, the Connections Chemistry Review, and the COE tutoring office were all found to have a positive impact on students’ grades, resources like these could be created to help freshman students in their other courses. Further study of possible interaction effects among these and other variables for which we have data are ongoing. Our results also show that the students who often skip lecture are the students who do not take advantage of resources for SI and receive lower course grades. These may be students who need additional advising and mentoring during their freshman year in order to succeed. The issues raised are important topics of focus for future work in order to gain a further understanding of the impact of SI on freshman engineering students.

    To download the annotated bibliography of more than 1,100 citations of postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs, click the following link,


    Online Peer Assisted Learning: Reporting on practice

    Watts, H., Makis, M., & Billingham, O. (2015). Online Peer Assisted Learning: Reporting on practice. Journal of Peer Learning, 8(1), 85-104. Retrieved from

    Peer Assisted learning (PAL) in-class is well-established and flourishing in higher education across the globe; nevertheless, interest is growing in online versions and is reflected by a number of pilot schemes. These programs have responded to perceived and actual needs of students and institutions; they have explored the available software packages and have begun to create a bank of learning through academic publications, institutional reports, evaluations, and SINET listserv discussions. This paper examines existing online PAL practice from Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA, and focuses on synchronous modes. We discuss (a) the context, mode, and scope of online PAL, and (b) implementation considerations. Despite some “teething problems” of these pilots we are convinced by the early and so far limited explorations highlighted here that online PAL can make a significant contribution to learners in higher education by improving engagement through the flexibility afforded by the online space.

    To download the complete annotated bibliography of more than 1,100 citations of postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs, click on the following link,


    History of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education: 1970s through Mid-1990s Part Two

    This excerpt is from monograph, Access at the Crossroads.  The history of learning assistance and developmental education is often ignored and misunderstood, especially by policymakers as they revise and restrict academic access programs.  This excerpt is part two of the time period between 1970s through mid-1990s.  For more information about my monograph, click the box in the left column.

    Rise of the Professional Associations

    The 1980s witnessed the birth of several national associations serving profes­sionals in the field of learning assistance, coinciding with the explosive growth in college enrollment and number of public postsecondary institutions, espe­cially community colleges. Institutions expanded their teaching staff for reme­dial and developmental courses. The exponential growth of learning assistance centers required a new category of college employees. These new profession­als needed organizations that met needs for postsecondary education rather than older organizations devoted to serving educators in elementary and sec­ondary education. They needed to increase their professionalism and provide venues for conversation with colleagues and experienced leaders in learning assistance. The new organizations provided a supportive community for new professionals who might be isolated on campus and were sometimes stigma­tized because of their association with learning assistance programs.

    Established in 1952, the Southwest Reading Conference, later renamed the National Reading Conference, was first to serve postsecondary educators in this field. The College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA, previously named the Western College Reading Association and later the Western Col­lege Reading and Learning Association) was founded in 1966. The CRLA pub­lishes a quarterly newsletter, annual conference proceedings, and the biannual Journal of College Reading and Learning. Conferences are held annually at national venues and at CRLA-affiliated chapters throughout the United States. The focus of the CRLA was clearly postsecondary education. Previously, learning assistance personnel had few options for professional development other than from other organizations with a predominately elementary and secondary edu­cation focus such as the International Reading Association. The CRLA and the other learning assistance associations that followed it provided an identity and a place for postsecondary learning assistance professionals to gather and exchange information.

    Following passage of national legislation creating the federal TRIO programs for first-generation and economically disadvantaged students, political advocacy was essential to expand financial and stable support for these programs. During the early 1970s, regional professional associations created by TRIO staff mem­bers represented their interests for increased national funding and provided pro­fessional development services for themselves. Clark Chipman, a regional USDOE higher education administrator for the Upper Midwest, was a key leader for development of the first TRIO association. It was called the Mid-American Association for Educational Opportunity Program Personnel. After­wards, nine additional regional associations formed across the United States. In 1981 Clark Chipman and Arnold Mitchem coordinated efforts of preceding regional associations to influence national policy through creation of the National Council of Educational Opportunity Associations. In 1988 the association changed its name to the Council on Opportunity in Education (Grout, 2003).

    The National Association for Developmental Education (NADE, initially named the National Association for Remedial/Developmental Studies in Post­secondary Education) was founded in 1976. Because of uncertainty about what would become the more widely adopted term, both “remedial” and “developmental” were included in the association’s original name. In 1981 the NADE contracted with the National Center for Developmental Education to provide the Journal of Developmental Education as a membership benefit and official journal of the association. The NARDSPE changed its name to the NADE in 1984.

    A variety of other professional associations were born in the 1990s. The National College Learning Center Association provided professional development for learning center directors. The National Tutoring Association served educators from higher education, secondary education, and private indi­viduals engaged in tutoring. The Association for the Tutoring Profession was created for similar purposes. The Council for Learning Assistance and Devel­opmental Education Associations (initially named the American Council of Developmental Education Associations) began in 1996 to serve as a forum for these professional associations to meet and engage in cooperative activities, information sharing, and networking.

    The growth of these organizations signified historically that learning assis­tance was becoming more complex, employing more professionals, and needed professional associations focused on their special needs in higher education. Large established organizations such as the International Reading Association, Conference on College Composition and Communication, and American Mathematical Society generally provided special interest groups for postsec­ondary learning assistance professionals. They missed the opportunity, how­ever, to fully meet the needs of the professionals who preferred the smaller and more narrowly focused learning assistance associations. This situation led to duplication of services among the larger content-focused organizations and the smaller learning assistance associations. It also may have led to increased stigma for the learning assistance professionals, as they did not become mem­bers and attend the conferences of the larger organizations that attracted membership of mainstream college faculty and staff members. It was another way that some learning assistance professionals stood apart from the main­stream in higher education.

    Support Systems for Leaders and Practitioners

    Several other national organizations, graduate education programs, and publi­cations have contributed to the history of the learning assistance community. A three-year grant from the Kellogg Foundation established the National Cen­ter for Developmental Education (NCDE) in 1976. Two years later NCDE began publishing The Journal of Developmental Education (initially named Jour­nal of Developmental and Remedial Education). Review of Research in Develop­mental Education was another NCDE publication; created in 1983, it focused on current research in the field. Since 1980 the center has also hosted the Kellogg Institute for the Training and Certification of Developmental Educators.

    During this period, a variety of formal and informal systems of professional development for learning assistance were established. Practitioners in the field previously relied on degree programs for elementary and secondary education. Secondary educators teaching reading, English, and mathematics staffed many of the learning assistance centers and taught developmental courses in post­secondary institutions.

    New graduate programs also emerged to equip learning center profession­als at the college level rather than relying on preparation for secondary schools. The first graduate programs in developmental education (M.A. and Ed.S.) began at Appalachian State University in 1972. Grambling State University (Louisiana) in 1986 offered the nation’s first doctoral program (Ed.D.). National Louis University (Chicago), Texas State University at San Marcos, and the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities (Minneapolis) also established learning assistance graduate certificate or degree programs during this period. Collectively these advanced degrees contributed to the professionalization and ability to meet student needs by learning assistance faculty and staff members. A major challenge with the national impact of these programs is that they are few in number and many current learning assistance professionals find it dif­ficult to relocate them to meet residency requirements and to secure funds for tuition. An expansion of distance learning pedagogies for the degree programs would permit easier access for graduate students who are place bound and unable to participate in long required residency stays at the degree-granting institutions.


    Reaping what you sow: How the University of Bedfordshire uses experienced Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) students to inspire and nurture future generations of PAL leaders. 

    Rapley, E. (2015). Reaping what you sow: How the University of Bedfordshire uses experienced Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) students to inspire and nurture future generations of PAL leaders. Journal of Pedagogic Development, 5(2). Retrieved from

    As staff awareness and understanding of Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) has continued to develop, a conscious decision has been made to hand over greater responsibility and ownership of PAL to the PAL Leader student team. PAL is based on the Supplemental Instruction (SI) model with a broader interest in holistic development of the students beyond just subject course competence.  The success of any PAL initiative rests upon the quality of the PAL Leaders who facilitate the sessions. Motivated, committed and enthusiastic PAL Leaders are key to ensuring that engaging and meaningful sessions are provided for first year students. With our mission to ensure PAL Leaders truly benefit and develop themselves during their tenure, it was felt that this transformation could only take place if PAL Leaders really had opportunities to step up and take ownership of PAL.

    To download the complete annotated bibliography of more than 1,100 citations on postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs, click on the following link,

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