Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Learning Center?

The Learning Center (TLC) provides evidence-based resources to enhance students’ approaches to studying. We support undergraduate and graduate students in AS&E, Warner, Simon, and the School of Medicine and Dentistry with a range of programs:

Study Groups Course Support

I just found out that my course is being supported by The Learning Center (TLC) Study Groups program. What does that mean? What do I have to do?

If your course is being supported by TLC Study Groups, that means that your course has been identified as a larger-enrollment course with a high tutoring demand and that a student leader has expressed interest in facilitating collaborative study time for a subset of the students enrolled in your course each week.

Note that no action is necessary on your part related to the program; TLC staff organize and supervise all Study Group sessions so that nothing is added to the already full workloads of large-course faculty.

How is a Study Group Leader (SGL) different from one of my TAs or PLTL Workshop Leaders? Are they part of my course staff?

A Study Group Leader (SGL) differs from a TA or PLTL Workshop Leader in that they are not presenting any course material or grading any course assignments. Instead, the student leader focus on building connections between the students who attend their sessions each week and encouraging them to study together outside of Study Group sessions, too.

SGLs are employed by the Learning Center and are not part of the instructional staff of a course. In particular, because Study Group sessions are voluntary and ungraded (i.e., not part of the course they support), the students who attend can be fairly certain that the other attendees are committed to consistently studying for the course, which helps bring together students with similar academic goals who might not otherwise have met in the larger lecture sessions or even their recitations, labs, or PLTL Workshops.

SGLs are specifically trained NOT to answer homework questions, and they instead help students with things like synthesizing their course notes, quizzing one another, and other collaborative studying techniques. As such, having a SGL does not replace the regular office hours offered as a part of your course or any review sessions you might organize before your exams.

I would like to add a blurb about The Learning Center (TLC) Study Groups to my course website. Where can I find more information about the program?

Information for undergraduate students about the Study Groups program can be found on our Study Groups page.

Additionally, students are automatically enrolled in any Study Groups supporting their courses each semester, and they can get in touch with their Study Group Leaders (SGLs) directly through "My Organizations" in Blackboard. SGLs generally make their sign-ups and other information about their sessions available within the first three weeks of the semester, so ask students to check back in a week or two if they do not see a particular Study Group in their list.

Are there any issues with adding a Study Group Leader to the Blackboard site for my course so that they can see the course schedule and materials?

No, not at all! In fact, we encourage it! However, to ensure that the Study Group Leader cannot view any grade information or use any administrative privileges in the course, we recommend adding them as a "Student" user rather than a teaching assistant or other user type unless you are sure that FERPA-protected information will remain hidden to them (e.g., if you do not input grades using Blackboard). For assistance adding users to your courses in Blackboard, please contact University IT at univithelp@rochester.edu or (585) 275-2000.

I am concerned about Study Group Leaders (SGLs) giving out incorrect information or facilitating unauthorized collaboration during their sessions for my course. How are SGLs trained regarding academic honesty?

We provide targeted training and instructions with regard to academic honesty for all of Study Group Leaders (SGLs), which includes familiarizing themselves with the resources specifically designed for TAs, tutors, and other student employees across campus. In particular, we explicitly discuss common violations such as providing homework solutions (unless expressly permitted by course instructors), sharing or distributing instructor-created/otherwise unauthorized course materials, offering their own work from a past semester as a resource, and allowing unauthorized collaboration on any type of coursework (including take-home exams or writing assignments).

We find that our SGLs are most effective and most clearly understand academic honesty expectations when the course instructor is a partner in their work; this includes providing them with clear guidance on course policies, access to the syllabus, and directions about which types of materials and collaboration you authorize your students to use. See the above question regarding adding SGLs as "Student" users in your course's Blackboard site for an example of a quick, effective way to inform them regarding your course policies and authorized materials.

I would like to have a Study Group Leader support my course. Whom do I contact?

We always welcome new courses and instructors to connect with the program! Please contact Kyle Trenshaw and include the:

  • course you would like to be supported and
  • semester during which you will be offering the course.

Note that the Study Groups program does not run during the summer sessions. While we cannot guarantee placement of a Study Group Leader for your course in a particular semester, we prioritize courses for which the instructor has specifically requested support in our hiring processes.

PLTL Workshops FAQ

What is a PLTL Workshop?

A Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) Workshop is a group of 6-10 students in a specific course that meet weekly outside of lecture. The facilitator, the ‘workshop leader’, is a student who has already been successful in the course and is concurrently attending leader training led by Learning Center staff and the course faculty. During PLTL Workshops, students solve challenging problems together to help learn the material thoroughly and to prepare for their course exams. The University of Rochester is considered a national leader in the development and implementation of this pedagogical model.

Why should I consider PLTL Workshops for my course?

Faculty report that their work in implementing Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) Workshops has proven to be a good investment. They value the ongoing interaction with their student leaders and the significant, documented improvement in student outcomes in their course.

What are the essential components of a PLTL Workshop?
  • While the model is a flexible one that can be adapted for a range of course formats, there are several elements that are critical to the success of PLTL Workshops:
  • PLTL Workshop sessions and materials need to be well integrated into the course as a whole.
  • Faculty need to be closely involved with the learning specialist and student leaders.
  • The student leaders must be carefully chosen and trained.
  • PLTL Workshop materials must be appropriately challenging and encourage active group learning; the problems need to be viewed as important for success in the course.
  • Logistics need to be carefully addressed, including group size, location, time, and teaching resources.
Why use students to lead PLTL Workshops? They aren't professors!

Student leaders are not teachers, they are facilitators or guides to learning. The benefit of employing student leaders is their proximity to their own experience in mastering the course material. Student leaders understand the difficulties students have with learning the concepts and problem-solving techniques in the course because they recently completed this process themselves. Also, PLTL Workshop participants often find it easier to practice with new material (when making mistakes is inevitable) in front of a near peer.

How are leaders compensated?

Leaders receive pay for facilitating PLTL Workshops and course credit for participating in the leader training course. In addition, leaders can be eligible for earning the Citation for Achievement in College Leadership.

Do PLTL Workshops use answer keys?

Typically not. Answer keys, while they can seem helpful in the moment, are often false friends in the long run. An essential goal of the PLTL Workshop is for all students in the group to feel that their answers make sense by the end of the session. Copying down answers supplied by someone else undermines this "sense making" process. For those who are fans of answer keys, there are plenty of “right answers” available in any course (just look in the back of the text, for example). In the professional world, however, answer keys are seldom available and often there are many right answers to a given problem.

Are PLTL Workshops only for undergraduates?

While PLTL Workshops are mainly for undergraduates they have also been implemented in the Simon Business School and the School of Nursing.

How do I recruit PLTL Workshop leaders?

Professors are advised to seek out students who have performed well in their courses and encourage them to apply for a leader position.

Where can I find out more about PLTL Workshops and/or how I could adapt PLTL Workshops for my course?

Visit the Center for Workshop Education website for more details, resources, policies, and a sample timeline for implementing PLTL Workshops into your course. We also invite you to contact any of our instructors: Robin Frye, Cecilia Barone, Nic Hammond, or Kyle Trenshaw.