By: Lauren Koppel and Jordan Weiner, Michigan State University
Hello to all peer educators and advisors! We are Master’s students in the Student Affairs Administration program at Michigan State University where we also serve on the National Peer Educator Study (NPES) research team. As former student leaders and rising student affairs professionals, we are passionate about peer education and hope that blog posts from our research team will be helpful in contributing to the development and success of peer educator programs.
The NPES, conducted through the BACCHUS Network, NASPA, and Michigan State University, engages undergraduate peer educators at participating institutions in a survey designed to assess the motivation, behavior, and growth of students who hold the peer educator position. The NPES research team sends personalized result packets to peer educator advisors each spring, detailing their peer educator team’s self-reported results, benchmarking these results to those at similar institutions, and offering recommendations for increased peer educator development. Our work is highly influenced by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS).
In 2008, CAS developed learning outcomes for students in higher education, integrating its previous learning outcomes with those proposed by Learning Reconsidered 2. These learning outcomes fit into six broad learning categories, known as domains. The domains include: knowledge acquisition, construction, integration and application; cognitive complexity; intrapersonal development; interpersonal competence; humanitarianism and civic engagement; and practical competence (CAS, 2014).
The NPES measures participating peer educators’ growth within the Learning Domains. Based on the survey results, the NPES research team has developed tips and suggestions to facilitate growth in each learning domain. Below are selected suggestions for advisors to incorporate into trainings, meetings, and advising practices. For a more comprehensive list, we suggest advisors register for the survey through their NASPA and BACCHUS affiliations. The NPES team provides each participating institution with a customized report on students’ learning domain scores and associated tips for training.
Knowledge acquisition, construction, integration, and application
- Have students coordinate and facilitate segments of training for each other in a topic of their interest or expertise.
- Create learning contracts for students to connect the relevant knowledge/skills gained to future goals/aspirations. For further information on learning contracts refer to Learning is Not a Sprint.
- Encourage collaborations between different peer education topics or with other campus partners to illustrate interconnectedness of ideas and experiences.
- Incorporate reflection activities into individual or group meetings.
- Encourage evidence based decision-making by introducing students to multiple means of information gathering and assessment.
- Encourage innovative problem solving by facilitating problem solving or case study situations.
- Provide goal setting opportunities and check-ins at multiple points throughout the year.
- Facilitate values exercises to help articulate values throughout one’s life, rank values personally and professionally, and compare values with others.
- Encourage ethical thinking by facilitating case studies that place students into morally challenging situations.
- Invite a Career Services representative or other authorized individual to facilitate the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or another personality assessment with the peer educator team.
- Frequently empower peer educators to lead activities and conversations.
- Provide both formal and informal opportunities to give feedback.
Humanitarianism and Civic Engagement
- Teach peer educators how to track social dynamics in group conversations and interactions and to name their observations and express if they feel triggered.
- Encourage peer educators to research current events related to peer education nationally and globally and incorporate these perspectives into peer educator meetings and programs.
- Coordinate collaborations with middle school or high school peer educator groups, i.e. workshops, volunteering, presentations, program planning.
- Begin peer educator training by asking peer educators to reflect on and articulate their goals for the peer educator experience and how these relate to their personal and professional goals.
- Utilize campus resources to engage peer educators in finance and budgeting workshops or similar programs.
- Invite professionals from different departments on campus to speak to peer educators about their experiences.
Learning Reconsidered 2:
Learning is Not a Sprint: