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We report on findings of a project to improve student learning in a university-level introductory materials science course for engineers. In a related preparatory project, we identified student difficulties with basic topics in materials science through interviews and/or testing of over 1000 students at The Ohio State University. Here, we report on the implementation of concept oriented group-work lessons or “tutorials” designed to address student difficulties identified in our prior work and improve student understanding of core concepts in materials science. The lessons were designed for weekly 48 minute recitations in which students work together in small groups on the tutorials in the presence of teaching assistants who assess and facilitate student progress. To determine the learning outcome, we analyzed scores on the final exam and found that even accounting for the fact that slightly “better” students tended to attend recitations more often, there was a valued-added effect of the recitations on final exam performance. These results suggest that these recitation methods and materials are effective in teaching students the difficult and important conceptual materials which they were designed to address.