Academic Programs

Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL)

Will provide you an opportunity to:

Meet with a group of peers outside your classroom to enhance problem solving skills and conceptual understanding. PLTL groups are available for Calculus I, II, & III, General Chemistry I & II, Introductory General Chemistry I & II and Physics I & II.

Sign up for PLTL here!

Applications will be accepted from 5:00 PM on Monday, August 28 until 1:00 PM on Friday, September 1.

Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is a evidence-based model of collaborative learning that supplements large lecture courses, typically in science and mathematics. In PLTL, groups of students (typically 6-10) work together on a problem set specifically designed for each session that aims to develop students’ course-relevant problem-solving skills. Groups are facilitated by a Peer Leader, a trained upperclass student who exceled in the course.

What Students Say About the Program

The PLTL program was extremely beneficial because I could ask questions about problems that I didn’t understand and someone would be able to help me in a way that I could understand easily

Anonymous / PLTL student

It provided me with practice I probably would not have done otherwise and introduced me to problem-solving strategies I did not know.

Anonymous / PLTL student

The environment we had set up where we worked through the problems together, and then if anyone didn’t understand something, we remained on that problem and helped them until they got it. Also, if there was a problem that stumped us all, we all worked together suggesting different ideas to try to figure it out.

Anonymous / PLTL student

I enjoyed how friendly my PLTL leader was and how willing other kids were to help me out.

Anonymous / PLTL student

Learn more about the program...

PLTL application procedure

Applications for PLTL groups are submitted online starting on the first day of class during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students in Calculus, Chemistry and Physics will be provided with sign-up instructions and deadlines via email, Canvas and in-class announcements.

The application for Fall 2023 will open on Monday, August 28 at 5:00 PM and close on Friday, September 1 at 1:00 PM.

How to participate in PLTL

The application for Fall 2023 will be posted here and will open the first week of classes. The form will also be available via links on the Canvas sites for Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Intro Gen Chem I, Gen Chem I and Physics I.

  • Students should complete the application before 1pm on Friday for priority placement.
  • Students who contact the program directors after that time may be put on a waitlist and placed into groups if spots become available, depending on the program.
  • Each program has different rules and/or deadlines for processing late additions.


Earning a Credit for PLTL

Students who participate regularly in their PLTL group will receive 1 credit. Typically, that attendance threshold is 9 out of 11 sessions. This can be adjusted at the discretion of each course’s program manager(s), who also have final say on excused absences.

Students with too many absences to receive credit will have the PLTL course dropped from their transcript, as if they had never signed up in the first place. In other words, you cannot fail PLTL. Depending on the course, you may be allowed to continue going to PLTL after being dropped on the transcript.

The credit students receive is elective and counts toward the 120 units required to graduate, but it does not count toward majors/minors, area distribution requirements, etc.

Dropping PLTL

If at any point you decide to drop out of the program, you should not receive a withdrawal (W) for PLTL on your transcript. To avoid doing so accidentally after the add/drop period ends, communicate your intent to drop to the course’s program managers, who will submit the drop request to the registrar on your behalf.

If you dropped PLTL after the add/drop deadline and it is appearing as a withdrawal on your transcript, please reach out to your PLTL course’s program manager(s) or to the Learning Center (

Apply to be a PLTL leader

Invitations to apply for PLTL Leader positions will be sent out in January. Students who have participated in PLTL and have demonstrated success in a relevant course and are interested in developing leadership skills in an academic setting are encouraged to apply. Application review, interviews and selection will be completed during the spring semester. Click here to learn more about the Learning Center’s hiring cycle.

History of PLTL at WashU

At Washington University, PLTL was introduced in General Chemistry in 2001 and was introduced for Calculus I in Fall 2004, Calculus II in Spring 2005, and Calculus III in Fall 2007. PLTL for Physics 197/198 (now Physics 191/192) began in the 2018/19 academic year.

For a more substantive overview of PLTL’s origins and early years at WashU, check out Harvey Fields’ 2022 article in Advances in Peer-Led Learning!


Evidence supporting PLTL's effectiveness

Research on PLTL at Washington University has contributed to a growing body of scholarship demonstrating its effectiveness in improving student learning. Insights drawn from this research inform the ongoing improvement of PLTL programs here and around the country.

For more information about the motivation behind PLTL, click here.

The people behind PLTL at Washington University

Instructors (Leader Training)

  • Chemistry: Megan Daschbach, Thomas Bakupog, Matthew Kummer, Donna Mabbs
  • Mathematics: Jan-Li Lin
  • The Learning Center: Andrew Collings
  • Physics: Augusto Medeiros de Rosa, Craig McClure

Past Collaborators

  • CIRCLE/Chemistry: Gina Frey
  • Chemistry: Susan Hocking, Sarah Luesse, Gaby Mirowitz, Taylor Pottgen, Ashley Schuman
  • Cornerstone: Harvey Fields, Karen DeAngelis
  • The Learning Center: Jay Sriram
  • Mathematics: Lisa Kuehne, Blake Thornton, Kendra Smith, Silas Johnson
  • Physics: Jason Woods, Siera Stoen, Nicole Hudson, Sheila Munsell, Rob Vittoe, Jay Schroeder
  • The Teaching Center: Patrick Brown, Mitch Kundel, Bryn Lutes