Allard School of Law Peer Tutoring Program Wins Helen McCrae Award

Allard School of Law's Peer Tutoring Program has been recognized as the winner of the Helen McCrae Award, a prize offered by the Office of the Vice-President to recognize exceptional contributions or significant improvements to the student experience and learning environment at UBC. The Peer Tutoring Program is one of a number of initiatives undertaken by the Faculty of Law in recent years to improve the student experience.

Peer tutoring is based on a model of student leadership, where first year students are matched with upper year student tutors. It's a win-win situation: first years receive invaluable mentoring and academic support while upper years gain vital leadership and communication experience.

Kaila Mikkelsen, Assistant Dean of Students and the leader of the program, says that although academic achievement is an important consideration when choosing which students become tutors, there are other criteria as well, including: interpersonal skills, maturity, patience, respect for diversity, interest in working with students, prior teaching and mentoring experience and active participation in the law school community. Once selected, she says, tutors go through rigorous training. As a result, senior students not only offer academic support, but also provide invaluable peer mentorship, leadership and support.

Negar Jalali, a student tutor in the program, is a staunch advocate for the program: "It is tremendously rewarding to hear that we have helped our peers through a program that promotes a sense of community and a commitment to academic excellence at UBC Law."

The program has been hugely successful, with students reporting not only a greater feeling of support for their academic and career development, and improved peer relationships, but also a heightened sense of belonging to a community, and a commitment to such values as cooperation and collaboration.

"We are very proud of this initiative," Mikkelsen says. "Even though law school is can be competitive, we've managed to create a culture where students collaborate and are happy to see their peers succeed. It has been wonderful to see the Program having such a positive effect on the law student experience. And it's great to see the students receive the recognition they deserve through this award."

Other Faculty of Law initiatives in recent years to improve the student experience include expanded academic support, a renewed first-year curriculum, the introduction of flexible learning, and expanded career services.