University 101 Programs

Impact of Peer and Graduate Leaders on Overall Program Effectiveness


Quick Findings

Research suggests that first-year seminar courses co-taught by a peer or graduate leader are more effective than classes taught only by an instructor.


Research about peers has found that students can, and often do, have significant positive impacts on the development and learning of their peers. To that end, University 101 Programs utilizes Peer and Graduate Leaders as resources, mentors, and co-facilitators in the UNIV 101 course.

Data from the 2013 First-Year Seminar Assessment (FYSA) were analyzed to determine the impact of peer/graduate leaders on the UNIV 101 course, as measured by the FYSA's Overall Program Effectiveness factor. The Overall Program Effectiveness factor assesses the degree to which students report the course:

  • included interesting subject matter,
  • contributed to their ability to succeed academically,
  • contributed to their ability to adjust to the college social environment,
  • covered topics important to the student, and
  • is one to recommend to other first-year students.

The FYSA is administered at the end of each fall semester to all students enrolled in UNIV 101. In 2013, the instrument was sent to 3,848 students and yielded a 59% response rate (n=2272). The dataset was coded to include a variable that indicated if a section was assigned a peer or graduate leader or had no teaching partner assigned. In fall 2013, 191 sections of UNIV 101 were assigned a peer or graduate leader while 22 sections had no teaching partner. The data were analyzed to find differences in means on overall program effectiveness between sections that had a teaching partner and those that did not. An independent samples T-test yielded significant differences in overall program effectiveness for sections of the course with a peer leader (M=5.49, SD=1.56) and sections without a peer leader (M=5.14, SD=1.78); t(2270)= 9.46, p=.01

Figure 1. Impact of Peer/Graduate Leader on Overall Program Effectiveness. Data retrieved from the First-Year Seminar Assessment and presented on a 7-point scale.