Ms. Dusty Otwell
Assistant Workshop Coordinator
Office: 2133 TLC
Ms. Dusty Otwell, a UWG chemistry alumni, is no stranger in these halls. Recently, she has joined our departmental staff as the new Assistant Workshop Coordinator.
What is PLTL workshop? Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) workshop is a weekly two-hour session where ten to twelve students work as a team to solve inquiry-based chemistry problems under the guidance of a peer leader. The workshop is not a repeat of the lecture, a recitation or Q&A session, or a supplemental instruction session.
What is a peer leader? The peer leader juggles many roles such as role model, coach, cheer-leader, troubleshooter, and facilitator. The focus is not on the leader teaching the students, but rather on the students learning for themselves while the leader strategically leads the students through the problems with questions. The leader actively engages the students in learning chemistry using various techniques and strategies learned in an intense, three day training before classes begin. Each week, during the regular leader’s meeting, the leader learns new strategies to present problems and how to deal with potential behavior problems. In addition, the leaders are given an opportunity to meet again for a three-hour retreat close to midterms to “vent” or offer success stories. The result of the leader training is to allow the leader to build a cohesive unit while developing the student’s confidence in the subject matter and encouraging a friendly, comfortable, supportive atmosphere. A good workshop leader is able to get the student to become responsible for their own learning and forces them to construct individual understanding of the material. As a result of becoming a peer leader, the leader increases their knowledge of chemistry and has a higher success rate in upper-level science courses, increases their confidence to pursue science-related careers, develops an appreciation for different learning styles, and builds leadership skills that can be carried throughout the rest of their life.
What does workshop offer? Workshops offer many essential elements to learning that a traditional lecture format does not. In a traditional lecture format, the students all file in, sit down, and are, essentially, an audience to the professor. In turn, the students have minimum interaction with each other. In addition, the student-teacher ratio is usually less than ideal. In each workshop, ten to twelve students are given the freedom to discuss and contemplate chemistry concepts in a thought-provoking, yet non-threatening atmosphere. In addition, the students are encourage to connect with other students and mentors through the team-building process of the workshop model. To create such a productive environment, it is vitally important that the workshop provides the opportunities for students to learn from each other and to communicate with each other using chemistry concepts and terms. As a result of the discussions in workshops, students build confidence in their own abilities in chemistry that, in turn, results in them becoming more productive members of society.
For more information about PLTL, please visit http://www.pltl.org.
My primary duties as an Assistant Workshop Coordinator include:
· Assisting in the recruitment process of the PLTL program including photographing present leaders for recruitment posters and distributing the posters throughout the main hallways and doorways of the TLC building. In addition, attending chemistry lectures to inform potential leaders of the recruitment.
· Reviewing applications, participating in the interview process and contributing to the selection decisions of new leaders.
· Assisting in the training process of all new leaders.
· Assisting in the preparation of leaders by conducting weekly leader meetings.
· Entering workshop grades into Corel and downloading online homework.
· Creating and distributing summary quizzes for all sections of workshop.
· Assisting in the preparation and follow-through of a mid-term “retreat” for all leaders and in evaluating its effectiveness.
· Assessing each leader’s performance and offering constructive feedback.
· Conferring with the workshop coordinator, calling attention to problems that needs to be addressed and offering possible solutions.
· Making suggestions for improvement of the workbooks.
· Helping to keep the workshops running smoothly in the coordinator’s absence
· Continuing my training through attending national conferences
· Providing webpage and WebCT support to the faculty and staff in the Chemistry department.