Near-Peer Student Mentors

Creating scalable learning experiences in large lecture courses.

I recently gave a lightning talk at CCSC-SW 2019 about UC Berkeley’s large-scale small-group mentoring program, Computer Science Mentors.

The recent explosion in undergraduate CS enrollments has required universities around the country to design new tools, procedures, and pedagogies for teaching larger and larger classes. In this lightning talk, I discuss how an R1 research university has responded to the enrollment crisis by leveraging undergraduate students in critical teaching and mentorship roles, allowing both introductory and advanced courses to expand to meet demand in the absence of additional faculty and without compromising on quality of education. By creating a multi-semester undergraduate teacher training program beginning immediately after students complete their first semester, large courses have been able to support enrollments in excess of 1,800 students in a single section while receiving higher teaching evaluations than ever before. These programs involve interested undergraduate students through a pipeline starting with supervised lab assistance and teacher development experiences before moving to limited-supervision one-on-one tutoring, small-group mentoring, and section leadership.