New Student Programming for Undergraduate Students
Below is a description of some of my previous work experience in programming for new undergraduate students at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
As an Undergraduate Intern for the Undergraduate Affairs Office of Academic Engagement and Programming, as well as later as a Program Coordinator, I have extensive experience working with the Rutgers Office of New Student Programs on initiatives intended to assist students in their transition into college life. The program within this office that I worked most extensively with is the First Year Interest Groups Seminars (FIGS) Program. FIGS are one-credit seminars taught by upperclass students known as Peer Instructors each fall semester to first-year students interested in a particular topical area and/or major. This unique program is intended to provide first-year students with an introduction to college life and resources as well as get them a head start on learning about what information, opportunities, or experiences they might encounter studying a particular subject.
I began my work with the FIGS program assisting with the multi-day hiring process of Peer Instructors. Each year FIGS receives applications from hundreds of Juniors and Seniors at the University interested in the unique opportunity to teach a college course in a field that they are interested in. In order to select the best candidates for the 70-80 positions available each year the candidates must go through a rigorous screening process. My work as a member of the hiring committee leading this process helped me learn valuable skills in interviewing, hiring and selection.
Once Peer Instructors were selected, I was responsible for coordinating three multi-day trainings throughout the course of the late-Spring to Summer months preparing these instructors for their first semester teaching a college-level course. During these trainings, Peer Instructors built a community with each other and learned about various pedagogical skills such as lesson planning, creating a safer space in the classroom, and classroom management. I was also in charge of communicating with and organizing speakers from the various offices and departments that these Peer Instructors were responsible for introducing their students to. In 2017, I worked with my co-Program Coordinator, Christina Spoleti, on creating interactive online modules that provided Peer Instructors with information on the various resources they were responsible for discussing in the classroom. As part of these online modules, we also supervised the creation of video modules where we interviewed various Peer Instructors and Department supervisors on creative ways to incorporate information on the various University resources they were responsible for teaching into their classroom topics.
As part of the FIGS process, Peer Instructors were responsible for submitting their syllabus and lesson plans at various points throughout the summer for evaluation and feedback. I assisted in the organization and supervision of this evaluation process and independently evaluated and provided detailed feedback on 15-20 lesson plans annually. I was responsible for grading these lesson plans and providing suggestions and critical feedback on lesson plans for various subject areas from Business to Sociology. This strengthened my skills in thinking about first-year student needs in the classroom, providing advice to new instructors, critiquing and grading, as well as lesson planning.
I also assisted in the hiring and supervision of an annual group of 7-10 Senior Peer Instructors, former Peer Instructors that served as mentors and administrative liaisons to the Peer Instructors. I met bi-weekly with these Senior Peer Instructors, training them in mentorship, answering their questions, hearing their concerns, delegating their responsibilities, and supervising their assistance in all administrative duties.
One of my proudest achievements in working for the FIGS program was the development of new and more effective ways to train and assist Peer Instructors for discussing issues of diversity and inclusion in the classroom. For many first-year students college is the first time they are learning about people from diverse backgrounds or diversity issues within their field of interest and they often struggle with having conversations related to this in a classroom setting. Similarly, for new instructors, facilitating lessons and discussions on these issues can be very difficult and is often something that they do not feel comfortable with or know much about. I conducted independent research and developed instructional documents, training modules, workshops, panels, and more on how to incorporate and prioritize diversity in the classroom as well as address issues related to it with students.
Finally, as a Program Coordinator, I also served as an instructor for a section of the course that all Peer Instructors are required to take while teaching called "Peer Instructor Education: Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn." As an instructor, I served as a mentor and resource to the 20-25 students in my course. I oversaw administrative duties for their classes, met with them regularly, and assisted them with classroom management issues. I also conducted classroom observations and offered advice to instructors. For more on the actual material I taught and graded in this course please see the "Teaching Overview" section of this website.
As of 2017, FIGS is housed under Rutgers University Career Services as part of their First-Year Engagement Initiatives. I assisted in their transition to this office and have been fortunate enough to keep a good relationship with their offices. Click the button below to learn more about the program.