Being a first year in college can be difficult, especially for Engineering students. The hours are long and there are lots of assignments to be done. When I started in Engineering last September, CÉIM was just beginning.
CÉIM is an academic peer-led support scheme for first year engineers is a joint initiative of the Students’ Union and the College of Engineering and Informatics.
It is based on the proven Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) or Supplemental Instruction (SI) model and is in its second year. I have been lucky to be involved both this year as a student leader and last year as a student.
First year students meet once a week in small groups of between five and 20 to learn from each other with support from two or three trained second year student leaders.
CÉIM sessions are designed to help students gain a greater understanding of coursework and adapt to university life in a relaxed environment.
As student leaders, we facilitate, as opposed to teach, the students. This is what differentiates CÉIM from lectures and tutorials. In lectures and tutorials students are given information directly. In CÉIM, students reach answers themselves through teamwork and support from the leaders.
CÉIM sessions are driven by the first years. They decide what material is to be covered and it is then up to the student leaders to structure the sessions.
Student leaders communicate with their groups through Facebook, email and by text. Feedback from first years to the student leaders is crucial for planning relevant, informative sessions.
Studies worldwide have shown that students who participate in peer-assisted programmes like CÉIM often benefit academically. That said, there are many other benefits for students who attend CÉIM.
It gives them a chance to meet other first years and working in groups increases their confidence. Students get biscuits and (sometimes) pizza at the sessions. The food always goes down well with the first years and the leaders.
There are plenty of benefits for student leaders as well. We underwent two days of professional training, developed communication, leadership and teamwork skills; we gained work experience to enhance our CVs, and we gain satisfaction from helping first years settle into university.
The main benefits for the College of Engineering and Informatics are that students who attend CÉIM are likely to transition well to university and manage their coursework better, and staff can get feedback through the student leaders.
Overall, CÉIM is an excellent scheme. Despite only being in its second year, the feedback from first years has been positive and over the next few years it should go from strength to strength.
For more information on CÉIM, go to http://www.su.nuigalway.ie/ceim-home
By Ciaran McGreal