Frosh doin' it in groups
By Mark Brown
Even after mixed reviews, organizers of a pilot project involving first-year student study groups plan to continue the program at Western next year.
Created by the Educational Development Office and the Centre for New Students, the study groups were organized with the aim of helping first-year students adjust to university courses and studying techniques.
At the beginning of the school year, hundreds of first-year students were able to form small study groups in biology, classical studies, economics and psychology, said Debra Dawson, director of the Educational Development Office and the Centre for New Students.
The students were organized into the groups with the help of academic programmers in the residences and were given an information package to provide some direction on effective studying practices, Dawson said.
The initial success of the program was surprising, Dawson added. "We didn't expect that 550 students would get involved."
Bob Gough, student life program manager for housing and food services, said an additional 400 students joined the study group program later in the year after attending information sessions.
But students who were involved in the program said the numbers didn't stay that high. "People were pretty enthusiastic at the beginning but it was hard to keep [the study groups] going," explained Christina Mazzuca, an academic programmer at Medway-Sydenham Hall.
The program would have been a little more informative if we could give students study questions prepared by the teaching assistants, Mazzuca added.
Kimberly Hampson, a first-year student who was in a study group for classical studies, agreed. Her group met regularly to review notes but more of an incentive is needed, she said. "It really didn't help us that much, after two or three meetings it all fell apart."
But Gough said the program has had a powerful impact on residence life. "It's beginning to become the norm to be involved in study groups. The residences are becoming more of a living-learning kind of environment."
One of the changes for next year will be to make sure more of the residence staff are aware and involved in the project, he added.