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Prepared to learn

Peer Learning Assistants participate in a training workshop, preparing them to help their fellow students. (Supplied Photo)

Students looking to set themselves up for academic success have plenty of free help available on campus, and many are taking advantage of the available opportunities.

Student Academic Success Services (SASS), a department within Student Affairs, runs regular academic skills workshops to ensure both graduate and undergraduate learners are well prepared for their studies at Queen’s. Topics cover everything from “Academics 101: From High School to University” to sessions designed to prepare students in different faculties and schools to write their exams, says SASS Director Susan Korba.

“The first workshops we offer in the fall are all about the basic kinds of skills students need to be successful in their courses,” says Ms. Korba. “These sessions are focused on helping the students get off on the right foot, whether it is ensuring they understand professorial expectations, know how to take effective notes, or develop strategies to manage their time and their schedule.”

In total, more than 6,000 students participated in a SASS workshop last year. This is in addition to those who took advantage of SASS’s one-on-one writing and learning strategies support and those who took advantage of SASS’s wide range of online resources. While many students head down to Stauffer Library to participate in SASS-led sessions, the team also works with faculty members and with Residence dons to deliver the workshops directly to groups of students.

“We started an initiative a couple of years ago that allows us to host workshops for all of a department’s first-year students,” says Ms. Korba. “For example, we will present them with a workshop on writing skills to set them up for success in advance of their first paper, or once they have received the feedback from their first paper and need to prepare for their next one. The more we can support our students, the better the students will do in their writing, and the happier the students and the faculty will be.”

It is not just Queen’s staff leading these sessions. The workshops offered in Residence and through the Queen’s Learning Commons are led by upper-year students. These peer learning assistants volunteer their time to help their fellow students. SASS works with approximately 50 such students who enjoy the opportunity to give back and share their knowledge.

“When I was in first year, I found the academic transition from high school to university to be quite tough,” says Sunny Zheng (Artsci’18), one of the Peer Learning Assistant Team Leaders. “I attended some SASS workshops and they really helped reduce some of my academic anxiety. Now, I volunteer with SASS to help those first year students who feel what I felt, and it has been a really rewarding experience. I think our workshops are valuable because they help students become more efficient learners which is very important in university where students often feel that they have so much to do but so little time.”

So if your students want to take more effective notes, get the most out of their readings, avoid procrastination, or receive support in developing a thesis statement (to name a few offerings), visit sass.queensu.ca