PLUS – Student FAQ

Peer-Led-Unit Study (PLUS) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is PLUS?
The purpose of the Peer-Led-Unit-Study (PLUS) sessions, implemented by the KapCC STEM Program, is to support STEM students in the demonstration and applications of newly acquired scientific theories and methods through problem solving exercises. These sessions are conducted by students, for students and supervised by faculty teaching the topics. Students meet twice a week and engage in problem-solving activities with the leadership and help of a PLUS leader. Through these sessions, STEM students are given the opportunity to improve their ability to articulate their ideas and methods to themselves and to their peers while working with each other. The PLUS leader is a student who has successfully completed the course and is chosen and supervised by the faculty member teaching the course.

PLUS availability
PLUS sessions are available primarily to classes that are integral to the ASNS degree (STEM courses). A faculty member teaching a particular section of a STEM course may decide to provide PLUS sessions for his/her students. In order to do so, the faculty identifies a potential PLUS Leader: a former student who was successful in the class and who also has solid communication skills. This PLUS leader conducts a 2-hour sessions twice a week. These sessions are then available to all students registered in that specific section. If a faculty member teaches more than one section of the same course, he/she can decide to open the PLUS session to all sections.

When a faculty member has identified a PLUS leader and has identified the PLUS leader’s availability, he/she polls all the students enrolled for the best times these sessions should be scheduled in order to maximize attendance. The poll is conducted by the faculty in agreement with the PLUS leader’s availability. When the faculty obtains the best possible times for both sessions, these times can then be forwarded to the PLUS coordinators so that room availability can be determined. Faculty may decide to contact their students via email even prior to the first day of class in order to finalize the PLUS schedule so that the sessions can start as soon as the second week of the semester.

How does a typical PLUS session works?
The PLUS leader has a set of problems provided by the faculty mentor and has the attending students work them out on their own or in groups. When STEM students experience difficulties, the leader is present to provide help, clarify details, methods, and concepts in order to facilitate the problem resolution. STEM students may be asked to work out their solution on the board for their peers in order to provide them with the opportunity to express their method clearly. Their peers can then confirm their own work with the solution provided. If attendees express the need to practice more, the PLUS leader may create similar problems on the fly and have STEM student practice the same problem again before covering the next problem provided by the faculty member. By the end of the sessions, STEM students should feel comfortable in solving these typical problems, and will be able to keep practicing more problems of the same type on their own. Under no circumstances should the PLUS leader lecture during these sessions.

What is the role of the faculty supervising the PLUS leader?
The role of the faculty is crucial in the success of these PLUS sessions. With no involvement from the faculty, these sessions are not effective and cannot be sustained. Every week, faculty and PLUS leader must meet in order to provide the leader with a set of problems (solutions may also be included). The leader solves the problems prior to the PLUS session and confirms with the faculty member an understanding of the steps and process associated with the problem-solving. In this way, the leader’s ability to assist PLUS attendees is confirmed. Every week, the faculty member provides the PLUS leader with a new set of problems. During the weekly meetings between the faculty and the PLUS leader, discussions must take place concerning the attendee’s response to the problem sets, the type of questions they ask, and how well they are understanding the concepts. With this information, the faculty member is better aware of the problems his/her students are facing and may choose to address these issues in class. Similarly, the PLUS leader reports on the number of attendees every week in order to provide the opportunity to the faculty to remind his/her students in class.

Are these PLUS session mandatory?
These PLUS sessions are optional. Faculty should design incentives to increase the attendance level. Such incentives range from proving extra credit, creating practice problems similar to those found on assignments, or tests, etc. The primary objective of these sessions is to support the students who have difficulties; hence, faculty may identify these students and approach them to remind them about these sessions, and try to persuade them of their efficacy.

PLUS feedback
At the beginning of each session, attendance is taken by the PLUS leader (UHID only, to preserve anonymity). At the end of each session a 2-question survey is filled out by each attendee. These data are collected on a regular basis, tabulated, and sent back to each faculty member in order to provide valuable information about how well these sessions are perceived by the students as well as who and how many students attend them.

PLUS Schedule