We caught up with Gurleen Gill to find out about her Biochemistry degree and time as a Peer Leader.
What have you enjoyed most about your Biochemistry degree at QMUL?
I am currently in my fourth and final year in my MSci Biochemistry degree. I haveenjoyed most the variety of modules and areas of Biochemistry that we cover. In particular the electives that are offered in the second and third year modules. I was able to trial Pharmaceutical Chemistry in second year that I enjoyed so much I chose it again twice more through my degree. Despite being on a Biochemistry degree I was able to sample a great additional area of Chemistry. I also really enjoyed completing my research projects first in lung cancer at the Barts Cancer Institute in 3rd year and now in vitamin B12 deficiency with SBBS for my masters. Both projects have taught me invaluable skills and allowed me to be part of two inspiring research teams.
Tell me a bit about PLTL?
PLTL (Peer-Led Team Learning), is a scheme that uses student to student support tofacilitate learning and consolidation of lecture material. It uses small group teaching, typically with groups of 8-12 students, led by a fellow undergraduate that has completed the module being taught. In each session a collection of lecture material will be revisited with the student group being encouraged to collaborate and answer pre-set questions under the support of the Peer Leader. It aims to raise attainment particularly for under-represented groups.
Why did you decide to become a Peer Leader?
I was contacted by Dr Howell (Director of Education, SPCS), who thought I would be a good fit for the scheme. I had been a PASS mentor my second year and then the student organiser third year so had found schemes involved in raising attainment very rewarding. PLTL was the perfect scheme to build on this passion, particularly as it was structured and compulsory and I felt being a part of it would make a difference to the student experience.
What has been the most rewarding thing about being a Peer Leader?
The most rewarding aspect of being a Peer Leader has been watching my fellowundergraduates grow in confidence throughout the sessions. At the beginning of each semester there was a mix of confidence levels. A few would be hesitant to participate while others always wanted to be involved. However, by the end of the semester everyone was participating equally and the initial hesitation was replaced with enthusiasm. I found in most cases they already had strong knowledge in the course material but they doubted themselves. To see this improve was incredibly rewarding.
What advice would you give other students who want to be a Peer Leader?
The best advice I would give other students is to don’t feel like you have to knoweverything. A worry that you have when you start the scheme is that we might be asked about content that we can’t recall. I found that while this did happen, the students weren’t looking for you to answer questions with the same knowledge as a lecturer. The beauty of PLTL is that we are trying to grow and learn together and so the best thing you can do for your group is be enthusiastic and understanding. Those attributes will help you a lot more in the sessions then photographic knowledge of the course content.