Peer-Led Undergraduate Study (or PLUS) is a voluntary academic assistance program that utilizes peer-led group study to help students succeed in traditionally difficult courses—those with high unsuccessful completion rates (Ds, Fs, and Ws). PLUS targets tough courses which over time have demonstrated their difficulty regardless of the faculty who teach them or the materials that are used.
Sessions are facilitated by PLUS Leaders—peer students who have previously completed the targeted course and have demonstrated competency. The leaders are selected based on their academic skills as well as their ability to interact and relate to other students. The PLUS sessions can be best described as "super-group tutoring," wherein the PLUS Leader facilitates group study strategies and collaborative study techniques specific to the course.
PLUS and tutoring, however, differ greatly. Whereas tutoring supports a general subject like biology, PLUS supports specific courses and sections. Moreover, the PLUS Leader is paid to attend the targeted class and designs the PLUS sessions based on the lectures. Although the PLUS Leader prepares problems for students to work on during the sessions, the leader does not re-lecture or solve the problems for students to watch. PLUS Leaders are trained to facilitate active learning during sessions where the students are responsible for explaining their thought process to one another other, rather than the PLUS Leader explaining her/his thought process to the students.
Each week, PLUS Leaders offer regularly scheduled PLUS sessions, which are held on campus in designated classrooms. PLUS leaders promote their sessions as "guaranteed study time": by attending, PLUS students have an opportunity to meet with classmates outside of class and engage themselves in the course material.
During a typical PLUS session, students compare and clarify lecture notes, review textbook readings, and discuss key course concepts. PLUS also provides an opportunity to complete study activities while developing study skills specific to the course.
While it is important to know exactly what PLUS is, it is equally important to understand that PLUS is not a remedial program for three important reasons:
PLUS supports courses with difficult content rather than supporting "high-risk" students.
All students enrolled in a targeted class are encouraged to attend PLUS, not just those struggling.
PLUS starts in the second week of classes and continues to the end of the term.