During the first term of university at SUTD a few years ago, you might remember one of these students up at the front of cohort classrooms, explaining a particularly challenging concept from class. These students are not teaching assistants. They are our fellow peers, and they’re driven and passionate about helping one another in class.
“It all starts at the cohort classroom.”
— Nishard Ghouse
Nishard, an international student from Sri Lanka, recounts, “Spending so much time together, going out to eat, watching movies and so on bonds the class a lot. In addition, knowing what each other is going through in terms of projects makes us want to help each other out.” Interestingly, there were two separate groups of students who organised peer teaching for their classmates. Both groups grew organically on their own, and they only found out about each other weeks after.
These sessions were organised weekly and were open to everyone — truly in the spirit of helping one another, and sharing one’s experience generously. Perry Lam remembers how the night before the Physics mid-terms, half the cohort gathered at the library for a peer teaching session!
Alex Soong shared, “The reward was that I had helped herd the lost ones to better understand the module.” Seeing their friends understand is the most meaningful thing about what they do.
Most SUTD students now, especially from the second and third batches, don’t even know that peer teachers existed. With teaching assistants helping to conduct and teach classes with their professors, the need for peer teaching as it once was has naturally faded away.
These students are nostalgic about their first years at SUTD at Dover Campus. Perry puts it across well, “It’s the freedom to move around and use facilities as you wish. The trust where you can leave your things around and they would still be there the next day. I forgot my student card many times at the photocopy machine and someone would always return it.”
It’s this sense of community, giving and sharing that they would like to preserve at the new campus.