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SASS peers

SASS peers help students develop skills to succeed at university. Our programs are free and confidential. We can help students:

  • develop learning strategies and writing skills,
  • make the transition from high school to university,
  • overcome academic challenges, and
  • develop peer leadership skills.
Peer Learning AssistantsPeer Writing AssistantsVolunteer!

Peer Learning Assistants

Peer Learning Assistants Team Photo with caption, "Get SASS(y)"

Our programs would not be possible without the generosity, enthusiasm and commitment of our student volunteers. Known as Peer Learning Assistants (PLAs), these students promote learning strategies on campus through workshops, one-on-one coaching and promotional activities.

We recruit in January for undergraduate students of all faculties and years to begin their work with the program the following September. Interviews generally occur in March.

“Not only do we get that feeling of satisfaction when we help someone, but we also help ourselves by using the techniques we teach. It’s a win-win!” – PLA, 2012

“I can honestly say that being a PLA was by far my favourite extra curricular experience at Queen’s!” – PLA, 2015

“My confidence as a presenter and as a student is so much better now–plus my marks have gone up now that I am practicing what I teach!” – PLA 2011

Why volunteer with us?

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  • You will be provided with extensive training in many learning strategies (e.g., time management, effective studying, exam preparation, note-taking, reading, focus and concentration).
  • You will learn how to plan and deliver workshops to Queen’s students.
  • You will learn about and practice group facilitation skills and presentation skills.
  • You will meet other fantastic students and enjoy leadership and student development opportunities.
  • You feel rewarded in your work with first-year students and International students.
  • You will be provided with references and ongoing support.

General, EAL and Science PWAs

Peer Writing Assistants (PWAs) at the Writing Centre are skilled upper-year and graduate student volunteers who enjoy helping others become better writers. PWAs provide advice on any first and second-year course.

  • General PWAs advise on any course, though most help is sought in humanities and arts courses
  • Science PWAs work with students in biology, chemistry, engineering, nursing, etc.
  • EAL PWAs work with any students who identify that they need extra English language support

What do PWAs do?

PWAs are trained to helping with clarify the terms of the assignment, brainstorming, pre-writing and structuring, providing feedback, improving grammar and style, and directing students to the resources they need to produce good papers. For many students, this service makes a significant difference in their academic performance and confidence.

PWAs also occasionally offer workshops on writing-related topics. Our program is evolving, and it is likely that new opportunities will arise in the near future.

“Being a PWA was one of the best things I did during my time at Queen’s.  Working alongside students in our one on one sessions, I ended up learning so much about all the different approaches to the writing and editing processes. There is nothing more satisfying than the feeling you get after seeing a student leave a session with a newfound sense of confidence about their assignment.

On top of that, the entire community of the program, from my fellow PWAs to our program leaders, made the experience so fun and worthwhile. Our access to resources like writing workshops and the training we received helped me polish my writing and vastly improved my grammatical skills. I use these skills daily in my efforts towards a career in journalism, and my time as a PWA helped me feel confident in my skill set as I enter my masters program in journalism. The PWA program is not only a rewarding extracurricular that helps others, but an amazing tool for self-growth and learning as well. I can’t recommend it enough.”

Sanam Yar, PWA 2015-2016 

What kind of time commitment is required?

Currently, each PWA volunteers for two hours per week from mid-September to the end of November and from mid-January to the end of March.

Training takes place online in the summer and early fall.

Why become a PWA, EAL PWA, or Science PWA?

Knowing that you’re helping others is a good feeling, but that’s not the only reason to become a PWA. You can also strengthen your own writing, editing, and communication skills, belong to a fun team of people from diverse faculties and backgrounds, and receive practical training in a variety of areas from professional staff. If you intend to pursue an academic, communications, or teaching career, this experience is a helpful addition to your CV, and perhaps a way to connect with professional staff who can challenge and support your growth and give you a great reference when you graduate.

How can I apply?

We are always looking for enthusiastic students – especially international students, students from equity-seeking groups, and students who have overcome academic challenges in their first or second-year at Queen’s – to volunteer with our peer programs!

Peer Learning Assistants

  

Peer Learning Assistant (PLA) volunteers work with the Program Coordinator to prepare and deliver workshops to undergraduate students with the aim of enhancing students’ academic success and helping them learn how to learn at the university level. You’ll deliver workshops and drop-in coaching sessions on topics such as reading, time management, avoiding procrastination and basic writing strategies. You’ll be amazed at how much you can contribute to students’ academic success as a part of the program!

To apply in January/February for the following school year, send a brief resume to Mikayla Sebesta at mms11@queensu.ca

Peer Writing Assistants

Peer Writing Assistants (PWAs) are skilled upper-year and graduate student volunteers from any discipline who enjoy helping others become better writers. They provide a vital component of our program, extending the service the Centre offers. PWAs are trained to work one-on-one with first and second-year students looking for writing support. They help with clarifying the terms of the assignment, brainstorming, pre-writing and structuring, providing feedback, and directing students to the resources they need to produce good papers. For many students, this service makes a significant difference in their academic performance and confidence.

To apply in January/February for the following school year, send a brief resume and a two-page writing sample from any undergraduate or graduate course to Mikayla Sebesta at mms11@queensu.ca

Bounce Back Mentors

Bounce Back Mentors work one-on-one with up to three first-year students throughout the winter semester. Students are referred into the Bounce Back program by their faculty after a difficult first semester. BB Mentors work with students to develop their academic skills knowledge and confidence, set goals for success, and help students stay on track to avoid probation.

This is a great chance to develop your skills working with vulnerable students who often feel marginalized or otherwise disconnected from the campus community. We’ll train you in communication skills, academic skills coaching strategies, and other useful techniques; as a result, you can make a huge difference in the school life of students who desperately need support.

To apply in January/February for the following school year, send a brief resume and a two-page writing sample from any undergraduate or graduate course to Mikayla Sebesta at mms11@queensu.ca