Peer Leaders, Peer Partnership Learning Communities, Performance Pyramid Model
While many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of programs designed to increase underrepresented minority participation, this article establishes a guiding theoretical model which examines why such programs might work. Theoretical models are often used to support curricular innovation by specifying guidelines for how to design new programs intended to broaden participation in STEM. The theoretical model of the Performance Pyramid was used as the foundation to develop intrusive Peer Partnership Learning (PPL) communities and develop a measure of student needs. The PPL communities were designed for students to simultaneously take College Algebra and General Biology I and involved weekly sessions led by trained PPL leaders to reinforce course content and work on biology projects with imbedded math content. The augmented SSNS (SSNS-A) was developed to measures these students needs that are directly related to the Performance Pyramid constructs. In addition, other outcomes measures were selected to identify, analyze, and address the barriers to student performance in both courses related to the seven support systems of the Performance Pyramid. This theory-based program was developed to (a) advance and test pedagogical linkages between biological and mathematical concepts; (b) improve, test, and refine the assessment instruments, and (c) test the acceptability and efficacy of a fully integrated biology-math curriculum on student performance and attitudes.