Feel free to incorporate some/all of this content and/or organization into your course.
Peer mentors: The number of peer-mentors will vary depending on the amount of student groups (with the ideal group at 4 students/group). One peer-mentor can typically manage 3-4 groups within a 50-minute timeslot (about 10 minutes/group). Teaching assistants (TAs), if experienced, might be able to consult with as many as 5 groups; however it is best to consult with the TA before assigning groups. If possible, connect with your Student Success Centre to inquire about training opportunities for peer mentors and (possibly) instructors. A meeting schedule should be organized so that the Instructor is in contact with peer-mentors on a regular basis to get updates about their experience with mentoring and to provide feedback should they require assistance.
It is also possible to assign a senior and experienced TA to lead the team. Avenue to Learn at McMaster has created a special role for peer mentors that will allow for them to post content and contribute to discussions without gaining access to student grades.
Teaching Assistants: TAs should be actively involved in student mentoring in the same format as peer mentors except they have the added responsibility of grading.
Instructor: Depending on the student to peer-mentor ratio, the instructor may also serve as a mentor. This could be a fun way to stay engaged with the class and get to know students personally.
Students will require time in class or during tutorial for a weekly meeting. The course schedule could be organized in the format of two lectures and one tutorial OR three lectures and one tutorial. If the plan is to carryout group work in class/lecture time, select a room that will allow students to segregate into groups with enough space for collaboration with each other and their mentor.
It is best to specify time for group work in the course syllabus so that students have clear understanding of how class (time) will be organized.
This document contains a description of MacEngaged and project deliverables for integration into a course syllabus for a course that runs over one term. The weighting allocated to this project can vary depending on preference of the instructor.
One major challenge with group work is keeping track of which students in the group have been assigned to what tasks. At the same time, students often worry about carrying the workload of others who might not be participating with the same level of involvement/enthusiasm in the project, leading to a less than optimal experience with group work and the course.
The accountability matrix is a possible solution to social loafing and keeping track of individual tasks (akin to meeting minutes). Students should start each meeting by reviewing/adding to the accountability matrix. This should take no longer than a few minutes of each class/tutorial. At the same time, meetings with mentors should also include updates through use of the matrix.
To keep discussions as concise as possible, request the group to assign one person to keep track of 5 minutes at the start of each meeting to quickly review responsibilities outlined in the matrix from the previous week. Online/phone timers could be used as handy tools for time keeping. Of course, the matrix should also get updated as the meeting progresses.