Student Success

Faculty-led training session equips student instructors with skills to support peer academic success

For Oglethorpe students, peer tutors and supplemental instructors are a vital academic resource, offering in-depth support outside the classroom.

Recently, the university’s Office of Student Success hosted a Peer Instructor Training session, uniting 19 faculty members with student instructors. This comprehensive training program aimed to equip these student educators with the tools and knowledge necessary to excel in their roles as tutors and supplemental instructors.

Meeting with faculty in their respective academic disciplines, students instructors discussed best practices for teaching and communicating with their peers. The training session was also an opportunity for these students to create an open line of communication with faculty and bolster relationships for the semester ahead. This special workshop was organized by Student Success Advisor and Tutor and Supplemental Instructor Coordinator Tenisha Tinsley and Writing Tutor Coordinator and Assistant Director of Community and Global Engagement Peter Dye, in connection with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Milana Thomas.

Tables of students and faculty listen to a presentation on peer instructionThough both tutors and supplemental instructors provide academic support to Oglethorpe students, they function differently. Student tutors have appointment-based individual meetings in which students can ask questions and receive tailored learning. Supplemental instructors attend class with students and work closely with faculty to teach the material to their peers.

“Tutors and supplemental instructors are a vital part of providing a supportive environment where students can thrive,” says Tinsley. “Our students’ goals of success are further supported through having an encouraging relationship with peer mentors they can relate to.”

The academic benefits of student instruction extend beyond classroom achievement. As peers, students may feel more comfortable talking to one another about issues affecting their success — personal or academic.

“Peer-to-peer tutoring is beneficial because it provides the students with a support system and a safe environment for learning,” says studentĀ Carley Bell ’24. “It helps to bridge the gap between the students and the professors in a way that benefits everyone involved.”

The impact of peer instructors on student success cannot be overstated. Through their dedication and personalized support, they have significantly contributed to improving grades, enhancing retention rates, and fostering a culture of academic empowerment. Whether it’s providing subject-specific guidance or being a friendly face students can talk to, peer instructors serve as vital bolsters to student achievement.

The numbers speak volumes about the efficacy of peer-led initiatives. With nearly 1,600 appointments recorded during the Fall 2023 semester and a growing coalition of more than 50 peer instructors enlisted for Spring 2024, the trajectory of student support at Oglethorpe University is looking up. These peer instructors, vetted and recommended by faculty members, represent diverse disciplines, ranging from Accounting to Spanish, and embody commitment to academic achievement.

Oglethorpe University’s investment in peer-led initiatives underscores its dedication to advancing student support. By harnessing the collective expertise of its student body, the university fosters an environment where academic excellence thrives.

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