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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.


    Published Research: Peer study group leader self disclosure during a study group session

    Allen, A., & Court, S. (2009). Leader self disclosure within PAL: A case study.  Australasian Journal of Peer Learning, 2(1), 68-86. Retrieved from

    Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a variant of the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program. The PAL leaders were the subject of this study at Bournemouth University in England. The issue under investigation was self disclosure of the PAL leaders within the learning environment and the impact on students. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to gain insight about the levels and nature of PAL leader self-disclosure during PAL sessions. Results show that 46% are open with their feelings and 84% often use personal examples within a PAL session. Qualitative methodology identified the types of ways disclosure was used to build trust with students and illustrate what the PAL leader was trying to communicate.


    Published Research: Using Bloom's Taxonomy in a peer learning program

    Aline, F., Zeng, S., & Yu, Y. M. (2012).  Using Bloom’s Taxonomy in a peer-led workshop in probability and statistics. Conference Proceedings of the The Peer-led Team Learning International Society Inaugural Conference, Brooklyn, NY. Retrieved from

    Bloom’s Taxonomy goes hand in hand with the peer-led workshop's methods by providing us as peer leaders with a structured order of the learning levels taken to extend our learning capabilities. We, the Peer Leaders, assist students into progressing to the next level in mathematics by going beyond recalling, understanding and applying (Levels 1-3 of Bloom’s Taxonomy). In our Probability and Statistics I and II workshop, we apply Bloom’s Taxonomy to help the students, especially with the application of comprehension, application, and analysis (Levels 2-4). By proposing questions to the students, we initiate the recollection of the subject at hand. As a result, these questions help the establishment and encouragement of critical thinking for the students, especially in the higher levels. The Analytical level (Level 4) specifically shows that an individual can know whether what he or she is doing allows them to perform well in the subject.


    Published Research: Impact on Peer Leaders in Peer Learning Programs

    Alberte, J. L., Cruz, A., Rodriguez, N., & Pitzer, T. (2012).  The PLTL leader boost. Conference Proceedings of the The Peer-led Team Learning International Society Inaugural Conference, Brooklyn, NY. Retrieved from

    Qualitative data has demonstrated the impact of PLTL on a Peer Leader’s academic performance. In this paper we quantitatively show the presence of the Peer Leader boost at Florida International University. Just as in any apprenticeship role, Peer Leaders undergo an extensive training program and it is this experience which provides an advantage. Training includes pedagogy, classroom dynamics, science concepts, and critical thinking skills equipping Peer Leaders with the necessary skills to manage a productive active learning environment. Initial observations and feedback indicate that participation as a Peer Leader adds value such as enculturation in the discipline, increased performance in traditionally assessed learning outcomes, and increased retention within the discipline. Preliminary data demonstrates a significant difference in the academic success of Peer Leaders in their own course work. This analysis was performed on large enrollment upper-level courses which indicated up to a letter grade difference between Peer Leaders and non-Peer Leaders.


    Published Research: Impact of peer learning with postgraduate students

    Zaccagnini, M., & Verenikina, I. (2014). Peer Assisted Study Sessions for postgraduate international students in Australia.  Journal of Peer Learning, 6(1), 86-102. Retrieved from:

    Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), a peer led academic support program that has multiple documented academic, social, and transition benefits, is increasingly being utilised in Australian instituti ons. Whilst PASS has been evaluated from multiple angles in regard to the undergraduate cohort, there is limited research regarding the benefits of PASS for postgraduate students, particularly international postgraduate students. This specific cohort's perspective is significant as international students constitute a large proportion of postgraduate students in Australian universities. This study investigates the role of PASS in contributing to the experience of international postgraduate coursework students at an Australian university through an investigation of its perceived benefits by this cohort of students.


    Strategies Can Help High-Achieving Minority Students Stay on Track

    Report: “Falling Out of the Lead: Following High Achievers Through High School and Beyond”  Authors: Marni Bromberg, research associate, and Christina Theokas, director of research at the Education Trust Organization: The Education Trust

    Summary:  Nationally, many minority and low-income students start high school performing in the top quarter of their classes in reading and mathematics. Many, however, leave high school with lower grade point averages and college-placement scores than those of their high-achieving white and more advantaged peers. The report examines ways that schools can better serve those students.


    • High-achieving white, black, and Hispanic students take similar course loads in high school. However, high-achieving students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to take advanced math, advanced science, and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses than are their more advantaged peers.
    • Performance gaps develop during high school, with minority and low-income students ending up with lower grade point averages and college-placement scores and lower AP success rates. As a result, those students are less likely to enroll in selective four-year colleges.
    • High expectations, strong support systems, and close, personal relationships can keep more of those students on track.

    Bottom Line: Schools that create a college-going culture by closely tracking students’ progress and providing access to authentic college-level work in high school, the researchers conclude, can help more students who start out strong remain that way.


    How ‘Undermatching’ Shapes Students’ College Experience

     “Undermatching,” the phenomenon in which students enroll at less-selective colleges than their academic qualifications suggest they could have attended, is a hot topic in higher-education research. Among the topics studies have examined so far: how common undermatching is, its effect on graduation rates, and a low-cost way to change where high-achieving, low-income students apply to and enroll in college.

    A paper scheduled to be presented on Friday at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting considers undermatching from a different angle: how it shapes high-achieving students’ experience in their first year of college.  Using data from the National Survey of Student Engagement, the paper compares the self-reported engagement, satisfaction, and gains in knowledge, skills, and personal development for high-achieving, undermatched students and their peers attending “match” institutions.

    The undermatched students reported a less-challenging academic environment, lower satisfaction, and fewer gains. Those findings, the paper says, may explain why students who undermatch are less likely to graduate, as other research has found.  But some experiences of undermatched students were more positive than those of their peers at more-selective colleges. The undermatched students reported having more interactions with professors and higher engagement in active and collaborative learning styles.

    The paper, “Selectivity and the College Experience: How Undermatching Shapes the College Experience Among High-Achieving Students,” is by Kevin J. Fosnacht, a research analyst at the National Survey of Student Engagement.


    D-Day As It Happens-BBC Documentary (Part 3 of 3)

    This is part two of the two-part documentary. Go to their website for complete information,