By Ellen O’Donoghue
NUI Galway Students’ Union have revealed that since moving online due to Covid-19, the CÉIM peer learning programme’s engagement levels have jumped to 83%.
The CÉIM peer learning programme was initiated by the Students’ Union in NUI Galway in 2013.
The programme offers free weekly peer learning sessions to students who are in first year to help them transition successfully to higher education, make friends, develop a sense of belonging, gain a greater understanding of coursework and ultimately progress to second year.
The idea of the programme is to help students feel more welcome and to help make their struggles with the change from second level to third level that bit easier.
Students’ Union Education Officer, Emma Sweeney praised the increase in engagement, saying, “CÉIM has definitely grown in popularity this year, I think in terms of it was the one definite way where students could connect with their peers in an easy and accessible manner.
“I think It was super accessible to everyone this year and it was a great way for people to connect and make friends, it was one of the only ways. It’s much easier to make friends in a smaller group than in the big live lectures and that’s really the only opportunity people had. So, I think CÉIM was an integral part to learning this year,” she finished.
Second and third-year students who sign up receive training to become CÉIM leaders to enable them to be as helpful as possible to first years.
On the matter, Students’ Union President, Pádraic Toomey said, “Our CÉIM peer learning sessions are delivered by trained second and third-year student leaders who have shown great resilience and generosity this year in supporting first year students in very challenging times.
“The feedback from students has been fantastic again this year with students saying that CÉIM sessions made them feel part of the University community in this isolating year. It has been a key opportunity for them to meet their classmates in an informal manner.”
After an external quality review of NUI Galway was conducted in 2019, the CÉIM peer learning programme was commended, and it was recommended that it be mainstreamed.
As a result, in September 2021, the programme will begin a pilot in the School of Science, bringing the total number of students offered CÉIM yearly to approximately 1900.
Students’ Union CÉIM Director, Amber Walsh Oleson said that “CÉIM provides an informal peer-to-peer environment to ask questions and deepen understanding of coursework.”
She further added, “CÉIM leaders have strived in sessions this year to support first year students to interact with classmates who they have never met in person.
“Developing skills for online learning and supporting positive health have also been key focus areas for the programme in this unusual academic year.”
For more information about the CÉIM peer learning programme, visit www.su.nuigalway.ie/ceim.