The "Biggest Loser" initiative – a peer learning scheme for undergraduate education

O'Shea, Peter J. (2006) The "Biggest Loser" initiative – a peer learning scheme for undergraduate education. In 17th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 10-13 December 2006, Auckland, New Zealand.

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This paper describes a peer mentoring scheme for engineering undergraduates. A "Biggest Loser" (BL) competition has been trialled in two units at QUT in the past year. The units were EEB213, a first year "Electrical Circuits" unit and EEB512, a third year "Industrial Electronics and Digital Design" unit. In the competition participants were subjected to one preliminary "weigh-in" and one final "weigh-in". These weigh-ins were essentially assessments of students’ preliminary and final performances. Between the two weigh-ins students were required to work with a personal trainer to lose as much "mis-understanding" as possible. The personal trainer had to be a peer (i.e. a fellow student doing the same unit). For the Biggest Losers of mis-understanding (i.e. the biggest improvers) in the class there was a 6% bonus which was shared evenly between the BLs and their personal trainers. The competition bonuses provided a motivation for under-performing students to improve. It also motivated the high achieving students to serve as personal trainers for their less well achieving peers. Participation in the BL competition was voluntary. Those who chose not to participate formed a control group and those who chose to participate formed the test group. The competition was found to be very successful in first year, where students’ attitudes were relatively malleable. It was found to be less successful in third year where students exhibited substantially more resistance to changing their way of studying.

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ID Code: 5898
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Peer mentoring, popular culture, improvement, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Education Assessment and Evaluation (130303)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 20 Dec 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:21

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