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Curricular Peer Mentoring Network grows


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November 8, 2011

SU Quality Money enables growth of interdisciplinary network.

By Caitlyn Spencer

It’s not just any student who walks into class dressed as Aristotle, or makes podcasts of required readings for their classmates to listen to. But the students within the Curricular Peer Mentoring Network (CPMN) are not just any students – they are, Assistant Professor Tania Smith asserts, a small army bound and determined to enhance learning in courses at the U of C.

Founded in Communication and Culture by Smith in 2005 and now co-directed by her and Instructor Lisa Stowe, CPMN is based in the U of C’s Teaching and Learning Center. The university-wide network’s main branches are in Nursing and Arts. The Arts Peer Mentoring program places peer mentors across faculties. Up to 1/3 of their cohort serve in courses outside of the Faculty of Arts, including the Haskayne School of Business, Science and Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies (CRDS).

The Arts Peer Mentoring program has admitted 24 interdisciplinary peer mentors for the Fall 2011 term, mentoring in 12 different courses ranging from Psychology and Canadian Studies to a senior level Biology course.

Based on the idea that a student who flourishes in a course can make invaluable contributions to future learning in that course, the program offers 500-level seminars for peer mentors, who partner with host instructors in courses they’ve previously taken. Together, host instructors and peer mentors make sure the students enrolled in their “host courses” get the most out of their education.

Peer mentoring benefits classes, mentors, and instructors alike: while students get imaginative and collaborative assistance, and peer mentors earn credits and gain valuable experience that accentuates grad and law school applications, the host instructors gain insight into how their students learn, and how to make the course most effective in the future. “They learn more about what is really engaging to students,” Smith says.

The CPMN, having been awarded SU Quality Money for 2008-2011, recently received an additional $130,400 for 2011-2014. The portion of money earmarked for the Faculty of Arts will be used in part to introduce another seminar of peer mentors, raising their yearly maximum from 30 to 45 peer mentors, and to offer research and development grants to participating professors and students.

The deadline to apply is December 1st for the winter semester, though applications are accepted until the mentoring courses are full. Interested students and instructors should contact Smith and Stowe.

Read more at the Peer Mentoring Network website.