Four key program mechanisms contribute to our Facilitators’ professional development:
- Initial Training
- In-Service Training
- Portfolio Development
- Instructor & Program Assistant Mentorship
The initial training program for FSG Leaders comprises of 15 hours of interactive, group-based activities as well as individual skills building asynchronous sessions. Training has an emphasis on experiential learning as the facilitators develop an understanding of the theoretical principles underpinning Supplemental Instruction and actively engage in simulated FSG activities.
During the training, the following content is covered:
Introduction to Supplemental Instruction (SI), an overview of the Peer-Facilitated Study Group Program and Session Planning
- Reviewing the theory of SI
- Facilitator etiquette
- The 'Scaffold' Approach to Developing Self-Directed Study
- The essential components of a session plan:
- Engaging in a mock FSG using the session plan template
2. Overview of Facilitative Techniques, communication, and advertisement.
- The distinction between FSGs (facilitators) and tutorials (teaching assistants)
- Reviewing the facilitative techniques
- Information to be included during lecture announcements
- Practicing presentations with audience feedback
- Developing a sample advertisement
3 Key Skills developed in Training:
Public Speaking Skills
- Manage the study group environment to facilitate collaborative learning
- Make public announcements in large classroom sessions
- Build group consensus around appropriate and effective study techniques in the context of a specific learning environment
- Exemplify study skills that will build students’ sense of self-efficacy
- Facilitate lateral sharing/processing of course information and group ownership of that information by developing a non-hierarchical learning community
Critical Thinking Skills
- Distinguish between the roles of teaching assistant and FSG leader
- Articulate both their positive and negative experiences as learners in a university environment and explain what they have learned from these experiences
- Design study session materials that utilize linear/sequential, visual/spatial and tactile/kinesthetic approaches
- Use a scaffold approach to design study sessions that integrate the development of discipline-specific academic skill.
During the semester, the Program Assistants run an in-service training session to check in with the facilitators. The training session covers key concepts regarding attendance, facilitative skills, advertisement, and more.
These sessions build on the content from the initial training, introducing additional skills and techniques so that facilitators are constantly stretched and growing in their supplemental instruction practice. Moreover, it allows the facilitator to share their best practices with the Program Assistant and co-facilitators.
Facilitators are given guidance on how to develop an effective facilitator portfolio. A portfolio features material that showcases the variety of the facilitator's experiences and emphasizes the kinds of transferrable skills and competencies typically featured in a resume. The portfolio also encourages the development of a reflective process within each facilitator (a 'facilitating philosophy') that provides focus and shape to the portfolio.
While each portfolio is unique and may vary in structure, it typically includes the following key components:
- 'Facilitating philosophy' statement
- Sample session plans
- Sample session resources (e.g., handouts, activity descriptions)
- Session maps containing feedback from Program Assistants
- Updated resume
- Documentation of awards and certificates received
- Examples of student work during the session
- Evidence of professional development
Facilitators are supported in their portfolio development through dedicated training time and ongoing coaching from RGASC staff and Program Assistants.
Facilitators are encouraged to maintain ongoing communication with course instructors. For example, they may provide feedback on how the sessions are going, what areas of the course students find most challenging and how many students are attending FSGs (although the names of the students attending are not disclosed).
Through the conversations mediated by Program Assistants, facilitators learn to gather a broader perspective on how to approach the planning of their sessions and develop a deeper conceptual understanding of how to approach course content.
Program Assistants are senior facilitators who fulfill administrative, supervisory and mentoring responsibilities in the FSG program.
Each Program Assistant is responsible for a cluster of FSGs, and they directly oversee the facilitators who run those FSGs.
The Program Assistants use their experience as senior FSG Leaders to provide a critical connection point for ongoing facilitator coaching and mentoring. Specifically, they support the facilitators’ professional development in the following ways:
- Engagement and leadership through training
- Reviewing and providing feedback on session plans
- Serving as a mentor for ongoing guidance
- Advising facilitators on their portfolio development