Peers teach STEM, earn money, find fulfillment


Photo by Mary Kane

Second-year students Jessica Strauss (left) and Hannah Peterson work on their math homework in a study group.

Alexandra Radovic, Associate Editor

Students in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—can get training this semester to lead peer study groups and activities.

Students who earn an A or B in a STEM course are eligible to become paid supplemental instructors for students taking that course, leading study groups and planning activities designed to engage students in the course material.

According to Jose Barata, coordinator of STEM initiatives at AACC’s School of Science and Technology, “Teaching someone increases your retention of the material by 95 percent.”

He also reported that people who attend supplemental instructor-led study groups earn half a letter grade more than those who don’t.

One week during fall semester, more than 1,000 students came to a supplemental instructor for help, he said.

Olumide Fagboyegun, a second-year biochemistry and molecular biology student, said his favorite part of the job is the “spark of realization on students’ faces when the concepts of a topic fall together perfectly.”

Student instructors earn $12 an hour and devote eight to nine hours a week, including three hours of sitting in on lectures, one to two hours for prep time, three hours for running study groups and one to two hours of training in the program per week.

“Helping a student realize their full potential is beyond rewarding,” supplemental instructor and first-year transfer studies student Megan Anderson said.