Peer Learning Facilitators Help Students Succeed

December 14, 2011

With the help of four CSUN students serving as Peer Learning Facilitators (PLFs), two high failure rate courses substantially improved its passing rates and created a supportive environment to foster student success. These students previously excelled in courses Kin 346 and FCS 380, and conducted weekly sessions and workshops to enhance the material learned in the classroom. In spring, our PLFs facilitated a total of 20 weekly workshop sessions and served 210 students.

Dr. Kim Henige’s exercise physiology course (Kin 346) is an intensive upper division section required for all Kinesiology majors that many students struggled to excel in, but when successful students helped their peers in the spring semester, it made all the difference. Through the PLF Program, the failure rate decreased by 10 percent in Dr. Henige’s course.

“The students feel more comfortable being open with PLFs,” said Henige.  “The PLFs have a better understanding of what students are feeling because they’re closer in age, and with their help I learned about certain concepts students struggled with that I had always assumed they got. It has been a great learning opportunity for me as well.”

Prior to the semester, the faculty-selected PLFs completed a thorough training session on the principals and techniques of facilitated group tutoring. In addition, each PLF used materials developed by the three faculty members in the selected courses to supplement weekly group tutoring sessions. They also met with the PLF coordinator, Karen Abramowitz on a bi-weekly basis during the semester to check in on their progress and discuss any challenges or successes made throughout the Program. Throughout the process, the PLFs themselves discovered their talent and passion for teaching.

Peer Learning Facilitator, Kate Ezra, conducts a study session for the FCS 380 students

Peer Learning Facilitator, Kate Ezra, conducts a study session for the FCS 380 studentsKin 346 PLF Adam Javate noted in a semester reflection, “My participation in this program has given me the confidence knowing that I can back up my knowledge in a public speaking [setting]. I have developed a newfound passion for educating and debating concepts in my field of interest.”

In addition to being highly knowledgeable in the course subject, the PLFs also served as a role model and motivated students when the material grew challenging. “I just like helping people,” said FCS 380 PLF Kate Ezra. “This Program really made me feel like I make a difference. I know school can be really stressful, but I feel like students are deserving of the help and moral support, and I’m glad I can be that for them.”