“Psychology courses have produced higher pass rates using pedagogical innovations such as small-group discussions and review sessions with peer mentors”
Peer Mentors are undergraduate students at UMBC who have successfully passed an Introductory Psychology course with an A and have a GPA of at least 3.0. All majors are encouraged to apply for this role, as this is a general education course enrolling over 1000 students a year, and diversity of majors affords the opportunity for different disciplines to connect to this foundational course. Ideally, Peer Mentors commit to at least four semesters or more in this role.
Undergraduates meeting the criteria can complete an application, which is available from the Coordinator. They are interviewed by the Coordinator and Lead Peer Mentor, informed of the preparation, supervision and commitment required, and reviewed for appointment.
Ideally Peer Mentors enroll in EDU313 and continue to EDU 314 if they desire a tutoring certificate. Areas of emphasis in the EDU courses include collaborative/interactive learning, communication skills for tutoring, developing successful tutoring sessions, learning and teaching styles, and content/skill-specific tutoring techniques. A variety of teaching methods including discussion, group work, and experiential exercises are utilized because active learning/participation is essential to course mastery and to achieve the course objectives. Students model, practice, evaluate, and develop tutoring techniques alone and in groups, and apply the principles and strategies they learn in actual tutoring sessions. The curriculum enables Peer Mentors to develop confident, flexible tutoring styles that empower students (tutees or mentees) to become confident, self-reliant learners. In lieu of this face to face class, an online version is available. Students completing EDU 313, EDU 314, and practicing as a Peer Mentor are awarded a certificate at graduation indicating their CRLA Regular, Advanced, and Master tutor certification with each training level completed. This basically identifies the student as having experience in training and technical assistance which can enhance their resumes at graduation.
Peer Mentors can enroll in PSYC 398 with the Coordinator or receive pay as designated by the Learning Resource Center. The Coordinator meets monthly with Peer Mentors to provide supervision, while faculty in class sessions continually assess the Peer Mentor contribution and share their observations with the Coordinator as needed.
Peer Mentors commit to one class session a week where they will support small group activities during the class session. Students enrolled in PSYC 100 work in groups of four during class sessions. There are four Peer Mentors available in a given class session who are circulating the room and assisting groups with questions, promoting group members participation, and clarifying the assignment. These Peer Mentors encourage dialogue and active learning during class time. The applied activities are by nature “noisy”, but the Peer Mentors assure that students are on task and social loafing is addressed.
Peer Mentors also assist with exam sessions to assure that distribution of exams (5 versions) is done in an organized fashion and that students submitting their exams are not disturbing others who are still taking their test. A Graduate TA and the Faculty proctor the exam and are responsible for insuring the integrity of the exam process.
Outside of the classroom Peer Mentors provide study sessions, exam review sessions, and individual attention to complex material. All these sessions are conducted in open study areas on campus and not in dorm rooms. Peer Mentor groups organize study sessions for large numbers of students and individual Peer Mentors can be available for one on one tutoring if necessary.
On average Peer Mentors need a maximum of 3 hours per week to dedicate to Peer Mentor activities. This is negotiated with the Coordinator depending on both the Peer Mentors’ and course needs. The Lead Peer Mentor organizes the Peer Mentor Group, supports the Coordinator efforts to supervise peer mentors, insures that all small group hard copy assignments are ready for each faculty, and posts the contact information and review session times for each peer mentor on Blackboard courses. The Lead keeps in contact with all peer mentors, supports new mentors and maintains the Dropbox of resources for all Peer Mentors to use. The Lead also organizes the review of the student run Discussion Board, identifying which students have contributed the expected submission for each unit. Any question about not receiving credit is discussed with the Coordinator.
Peer Mentor group supervision occurs once a month during an hour group session with the Coordinator. These sessions are mandatory and any mentor missing these sessions will be restricted from continuing in the role.
Feedback on the Peer Mentors as a group is gathered from each section of Introductory Psychology at midterm and at the final evaluation. This information is shared with Peer Mentors and changes may be made relevant to this feedback.
AFTER COMPLETION OF THIS FORM,PLEASE SEND IT TO EILEEN O’BRIEN @firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Payment for the Peer Mentors is a combination of LRC and Psychology department funds, with class time supported by the department. Online timesheets are submitted according to UMBC policy.