Earth Sciences Mentoring Program

For Lab Aides & Study-Session Facilitators


All lab aides and study-session facilitators need to sign up through one of the department faculty members who teaches the courses for which you will be assisting.

We currently use Lab Aides in Geol 10L, Geol 30, Ocan 1L, Pale 1, and Geog 1L. Study Session Leaders will choose 1-2 hours per week to work on a regular schedule (so that we can advertise availability). Hours need to match open study session times. Total number of hours available for various study session leaders depends on available study session times and other study session leaders (we need to reach maximum coverage for all classes with limited funds).

  1. Come by as early as possible in the semester to sign up for available slots. (Study session leaders: study session schedule; Lab aides: lab schedule (look for Room document on righthand menu).)
  2. Provide facilitator with contact information (e-mail and phone number).
  3. Sign up for the Mentoring e-mail listserve:
    E-mail Katryn Wiese with the message subscribe earthsciencementors in the subject line. No need for any other text.
  4. Complete the one-page volunteer form, and submit to Department Chair.


All lab aides must ALSO coordinate with their lab instructors:

  1. Meet with your lab instructor ASAP at the semester start to schedule times for assisting in the lab.
  2. Prepare for each week’s lab by reviewing your old coursework AND reviewing the lab key.
  3. During lab, move about the lab room helping students AS they ask for help.
  4. When you have time (no students currently asking for help), move around the lab. Some students will appreciate your looking over their shoulders to review their answers. If you see answers that are completely wrong, you can advise students to review that particular area. Some students do NOT like this type of observation – so feel them out and see what they want.
  5. Depending on your schedule AND the instructor, you might be helping to set up or clean up the lab. Be sure to be careful with all lab materials. Put microscopes and all other equipment back in the appropriate, labeled locations.
  6. Meet with lab instructors weekly (usually before, during, or after lab) to discuss issues.
  7. If you are ill or have an emergency and cannot make it to lab, contact the lab instructor immediately.


All study-session facilitators must coordinate with their lecture instructors:

  1. Decide which study session time works best with your schedule, then meet with the lecture instructor the first week of classes, so he/she can set up the official lab-study schedule.
  2. Meet with your lecture instructor at the semester start to discuss ways to advertise your study session and to gather any other special tips.
  3. Bring your course information (lecture notes and textbook) with you to study sessions, so you can reference them during your session.
  4. Make yourself visible and sit in an open area, during study sessions.
  5. When you have multiple students seeking help, have them all sit together, around you, and alternate taking one question from each. Be sure to speak loudly enough that all other students can hear you.
  6. Encourage students who come to study sessions to create study groups and to help each other (especially when you are busy with other students).
  7. If you are ill or have an emergency and cannot make it to your study session, contact facilitator immediately.
  8. Be sure to direct students to their own resources as you help them (the book, class handouts, the classroom websites, etc.), so that they can better help themselves after class.
  9. It is annoying but undeniable that some ill-prepared students will seek help the day before an exam. Be patient with them, but warn them there’s not much you can do.
  10. Encourage students to speak with the instructor about any concerns they might have.
  11. VERY IMPORTANT – The students and instructors COUNT on you to show up at your designated study-session time. If you cannot meet that responsibility, we cannot put you on the schedule!


We are available to you for suggestions and help. Please seek us out at any time for any concerns – career, education, study-session facilitation, content, etc. Meanwhile, we will ensure that you:

  • Have the chance to connect with and discuss issues with fellow study-session facilitators and lab aides periodically during the semester.
  • Are invited to attend an end-of-semester celebration given by the department. If you would like to write an article or submit photographs for the end-of-semester newsletter, about your experiences during the semester, please do so!
  • Are listed on all department study-session schedules (bulletin boards and on-line) with the correct information regarding your hours, name, and session content.
  • Have access to the lab room and associated materials during your study sessions.
  • Can leave a few materials in the department offices to help with your efforts.
  • Receive help from us as needed through the semester.
  • Are introduced to students you will be serving, who will also be warned that you do not know all the answers – so they should be patient with you – and appreciative of your time!!



  • Helping your fellow students can be tough! There are tricks to handling difficult situations. Please keep these in mind:
  • Control access to the lab room and back offices – Students are not allowed in the back offices without an instructor. Be sure that when you leave the lab, if you are the last person, that all windows and doors are closed and locked.
  • Not everyone is ready for our classes – some students don’t have the expertise in math or reading or English or critical thinking to pass our classes the first time around. Be patient with these students, but don’t hesitate to advise them to retake another semester, after completing more math or English.
  • Some students have emotional difficulties – If you choose to give advice, be sure you also alert them to the services the college provides:
  • Don’t hesitate to tell students you don’t know. If you do NOT know the answer to something, direct the students to the instructor (better yet, take them to the instructor and listen in as the answer is provided). If you give wrong answers to students (it WILL occasionally happen), be sure to go back to the students later (ASAP) with the correct answers.
  • Show, don’t tell. Instead of giving an answer, guide students to the correct answer.
  • Talk to us! If you are having any concerns or problems at any time, please come ASAP and talk to the Mentoring Facilitator. We are here for you!
  • Follow through. If you are on the schedule, we expect you to show up (students, instructors, fellow lab aides and study-session facilitators). Only skip sessions if it’s an emergency, and if you’ve made contact with someone to post signage. It is ESPECIALLY important around exam times!
  • Be patient and kind with the students. You are their ally.
  • Respect the right of ALL to an education. When in doubt, use that principle to guide your actions and advice with students. No one should be hijacking anyone else’s learning environment.
Police Station Location

If you have any difficulties, contact an instructor ASAP. If no instructor is available, and your difficulties feel like an emergency, contact Campus Police (Cloud Hall 119) 239-3200.