We caught up with Tyler Christian to find out about his time as a Peer Leader in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences.
What have you enjoyed most about your Biology degree at QMUL?
Throughout my Biology degree, I have enjoyed learning about the vast diversity of nature. This has led to me enjoying the field of ecology, where we learn that even the most simple systems can have some surprisingly complex and fascinating features. By far, my favourite aspect of the program was the field trip to South Africa. This was a brilliant experience where we got to learn about the importance of conservation whilst thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
Tell me a bit about PLTL?
In the simplest of terms, PLTL involves helping fellow students to hone their skills. This does not involve teaching (although you may need to explain a few concepts) but is instead a casual conversation about the content. As a peer leader, you work alongside the academics to plan and deliver the sessions in your own unique style, adapting your methods to best suit the group. It is an incredibly rewarding experience where you get to see the group improve their skills, learning from what you have shown them. You also gain valuable experience in how to plan, lead and organise a group: transferable skills useful in almost every career.
Why did you decide to become a Peer Leader?
Throughout my degree, I have realised my passion for ecology and wish to pursue a career in academic research and lecturing. When Dr Sally Faulkner first approached me about the program, I realised that this would be a great chance for me to gain experience in leading educational activities. I was not wrong, and PLTL has drastically improved my public speaking skills and ability to explain (occasionally challenging) concepts.
What has been the most rewarding thing about being a Peer Leader?
Throughout my sessions, I built a strong bond with my groups, adapting my plans to best suit their learning styles. In doing so, I learnt to regularly recap content where I observed a massive improvement in their knowledge. As the sessions continued, the group started to take notes on my explanations and regularly asked me to explain topics, some of which were not covered by the worksheets. This was incredibly rewarding to see, and at the end of my final session, I received many "thank yous", with one person even giving me a box of chocolates!
What advice would you give other students who want to be a Peer Leader?
As long as you are (somewhat) organised and happy to speak in front of small groups, I'd highly recommend doing it! Just remember that you are a student too, and whilst they are there to learn from you, don't be afraid to learn too (sorry for the rhyme). Whilst this could involve asking them how you could improve the future sessions, you can also use the PLTL groups as a chance to reinforce your own skills. It is proven that the best way to learn is to teach, and PLTL allows you to do just that!