During winter quarter the Kitchen Cabinet (which includes the associate deans for the undergraduate programs, the director of the Drahmann Center, the Registrar, and myself) collected data on the various kinds of positions held by students who assist with courses. We found that these fall into two categories: 1) Paid positions, typically homework graders or lab assistants. 2) Unpaid positions for which students earn units, typically peer educators. The paid positions are self-explanatory. The Peer Educator Program may be less familiar.
Peer educators may be assigned to a variety of tasks that enhance a course, such as facilitating in-class discussions, holding office hours, and conducting review sessions. An especially knowledgeable peer educator might be called on to conduct part of a class from time to time. Experience shows that peer educators benefit the students in the class, but benefit themselves most of all, especially peer educators who have aspirations of becoming teachers. With rare exceptions, peer educators do not grade. Peer educators are intended to provide additional support to the students in a class, not to reduce an instructor's work. In addition, grading can damage the relationship of trust between a peer educator and the students in the class.
In our review we found that some positions called "peer educator" do not align with the parameters established for the position. As a result of our review, we have decided, in the interest of equity, to establish the following principles that will apply to all students assisting in classes in return for units of academic credit, effective Fall, 2005: All faculty wishing to engage peer educators must work through the Director of the Peer Educator Program (see below). Peer Educators working 4-8 hours per week (including time in the classroom, when appropriate) will receive two units of credit. Peer Educators working fewer than 4 hours per week will receive one unit of credit. The units will be in the subject for which the student is a peer educator; e.g., if in an English course, the students will receive two units for ENGL 194.
All peer educators must attend a workshop at the beginning of each quarter of peer educator service; this serves as an introduction to the variety of tasks a peer educator might perform, and draws on the wisdom of former peer educators as well as of the program director. Faculty using peer educators are encouraged to participate, as well. Faculty using peer educators must meet with their PEs regularly in order to give instruction and guidance, and to get and give feedback.
Students who will work more than 8 hours per week should be enrolled in a teaching practicum or under some similar rubric; such a high expectation falls outside the Peer Educator Program. The Independent Study rubric will not be approved for peer educator service. The tasks of a peer educator are not consistent with the definition of independent study, which is "a research project or other well-defined program of study outside the scope of a regular class and taken under the supervision of a full-time faculty member." For questions on the Peer Educator Program during the rest of this academic year, please contact Theresa Conefrey directly. Thank you for your attention.
Helen Moritz, former Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education