Peer Leaders are selected via a formal selection process, and a training program provides on-going support to Peer Leaders. New Peer Leaders are added to the roster each spring for the upcoming fall semester, when they enroll in two Peer Leader Training courses:
Seminar in Academic Mentoring (SAM)
A multi-disciplinary course in which first-time Peer Leaders learn the tools for guiding and facilitating PLTL group meetings.
Practical Applications of Academic Mentoring (PAM)
A course in which new and veteran Peer Leaders work together to solve the weekly PLTL problems in advance of PLTL group meetings
The collaborative nature of these courses creates a teaching and learning community for Peer Leaders in which they share their successes and struggles, and help one another develop solutions to ongoing challenges.
WUSTL’s PLTL Peer Leaders pass on the knowledge they gained through their leadership experience by compiling Peer Leader Training Books each year.
Benefits to Peer-Leaders
The benefits of participating in WU PLTL’s Peer Leader training program extend beyond reinforcement of parent course knowledge. Peer Leaders form mentoring relationships with faculty and develop a host of leadership skills, such as effective communication, team-building, and assertiveness.
On post-program surveys, Peer Leaders report that the training program helped them gain:
- Appreciation of the value of collaborative learning
- Better understanding of parent course material
- Ability to work with diverse groups of people
- Trust of the group problem-solving process
“My past three years as a PLTL leader in General Chemistry have been such a rewarding experience. . . It is wonderful to see students take a more active role in their group as the semester progresses, and I find it fulfilling to be a part of each student’s journey through General Chemistry.”
“It allowed me to see and understand intricacies of Gen Chem material that I didn’t grasp when taking the course. I loved the unique group dynamics that became evident after the third or fourth week of leading a new group. It taught me the art of facilitation, which is much harder than simply teaching the material.”
“Through my participation as a leader, I have been able to enjoy learning . . . and. . . been made able to share this passion with others.”
“As a chemistry PLTL Leader, I have learned to teach others not just subject matter, but – more importantly – independent and critical thinking skills.”
“The most rewarding thing about being a PLTL Leader is seeing a student suddenly understand a concept or problem, and knowing that you helped to make that happen.”
“Being a PLTL Leader has allowed me to create deeper faculty relationships and meet like-minded peers.”
“I not only serve as a discussion facilitator but also a friend, mentor, and resource for students. I love being able to guide students in an entire semester experience.”
“After leading PLTL, I fully buy into the philosophy… If everyone chips in what he/she understands, it is overwhelmingly in the group’s favor that they will grasp the concepts and be able to solve any problem.”
“I have enjoyed being a PLTL Leader because I get to help students succeed in a notoriously difficult class, and show them that chemistry is not impossible. It’s fun to see the light bulbs go off as students grasp new concepts and solve tough problems.”
“Observing how other students think and learn is fascinating, and has shown me new ways to approach challenges.”