SAALOG Stories - Counseling Center

HESI318N is a contextual leadership course that utilizes experiential opportunities as a study group leader to develop and apply the knowledge and skills of leadership into practice by leading collaborative learning groups. This course will provide pedagogical training in the theory, process and techniques used to lead peer-group study sessions in multiple discipline areas. The methods of instruction will include classroom instruction and supervised peer-study sessions.
The course is specifically designed for those who will serve as Guided Study Session leaders in the University Counseling Center’s Learning Assistance Service. Other study group leaders may participate in the course at the permission of the instructor.

Individuals must have taken the content course attached with the learning group and performed well (A or B in the course). Students should also have an overall academic standing of 3.0 or better. Students must submit a written application and attend a personal interview.

As a result of participating in this class, students will:
1. Become aware of themselves as learners as a basis for understanding others, particularly in the helping relationship.
2. Gain an appreciation for their roles as peer group facilitators.
3. Develop facilitation skills in order to facilitate independent learning in others.

Noorvir Kaur

GSS Leader

"I stood in front of the room a bit timid but prepared for a whole 50 minutes of me running a GSS session. I remembered that I had held no position thus far in which I had this much control over the young minds of the campus population. I quickly cleared that thought away as the time for my session began to draw nearer. When it did begin, I had my students sign in at the front of my classroom and sit down in pairs. After which, I provided an individual presentation on the introduction to GSS and myself where I included that GSS is a collaborative learning environment where I will not be lecturing to set the standard for my future sessions as well as how GSS targets classes in which 16-25% of students receive a D, F, or withdraw. Following that, I provided students with effective learning strategies for the class, keeping in mind from my training how students experience learning gaps between the material that was taught and what has been learned (Angelo) and to mitigate that to set up students for success early on. I used reciprocal questioning to ask students what each of these strategies may look like for them and they asked me what strategies I would recommend. I then went on to put questions on the board from the recent lecture and have students work on them using think-pair-share and flowcharts/diagrams to develop their thoughts. We went over the answers in a group discussion where every student shared an answer. I closed by asking them to do a one-minute paper where they wrote one new thing that they learned today. The session ended, and I exhaled in relief. 
That was my recollection from my second GSS session when I only had two students show up. It also demonstrates a fair sampling of the learning and assessment techniques I did employ over the course of this semester. Throughout my sessions, I took on roles as a leader, discussion facilitator, and most of all an empathizer with my students as I’ve been in their position before. As seen in my second session, I only had two students arrive and I adjusted to this by changing my lesson plan from working in clusters to think-pair-share and had students come up to the board to work on problems. In fact, as I was designing my lesson plans, I was always thinking of how I can use certain techniques to provide a reasonable estimate of class performance and help to consolidate feedback in large class sections (Enerson). Other creative strategies I incorporated included combining the muddiest point and one-minute paper for closure, a notecard activity where I handed out different colored notecards each with a topic for the students to write an exam question about, and a vocabulary matrix in which a word was displayed on the screen and students were to write all they could remember about that word. 
As a result of leading these study sessions, I have come a long way since that session and I learned to become more confident in my ability to talk about the content as I attended lectures and understood the material better speaking it out. I also realized I gained a lot of satisfaction knowing someone understood something that they did not prior to the session.

I would recommend being a GSS leader to anyone because you gain a greater appreciation for the learning process and for your students who take time out of their schedule to attend your sessions. You enable and empower students with knowledge and watch them grow as they continue to work in collaborative environments. Most of all, you foster great relationships between the students as well as you and the students. This is the beauty of this program and I would recommend applying to be a GSS leader to any student who sees value in these benefits."