Extending Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom

Student Engagement

Defining Peer Leadership at USC

What exactly does it mean to be a peer leader?

According to Ender and Kay (Ender & Kay, 2001) a peer leader is categorized as a “student who has been selected and trained to offer educational services to their peers. Each peer leader service is intentionally designed to assist in the adjustment, satisfaction, and persistence of students toward the attainment of their educational goals” (324).

At Carolina, peer leaders are undergraduate students who have been selected and trained to offer educational services to their peers.

Peer Leadership at the University of South Carolina

Opportunities for students to engage in peer leadership includes a wide variety of roles and activities. Each position can involve:

Peer Education

In peer education, a more advanced student guides a less advanced student. Peer leaders identify with and understand the life circumstances of the recipients, and discuss the material in an informal group setting (Topping & Ehly, 1998).

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentoring involves an encouraging and supportive one-on-one relationship with a more experienced peer in a joint area of interest. It is characterized by positive role modeling, promoting raised aspirations, positive reinforcement, open-ended counseling, and joint problem solving (Topping & Ehly, 1998).

Peer Tutoring/Counseling

Students who received solid grades in specific courses may tutor students currently enrolled in these courses. There are also many positions where students act in counseling roles for prospective or current students facing a range of issues.

Student Leadership

Many positions allow students to take on the role of an officer or executive in a student group or organization. These students become responsible for the development and stewardship of programs and services designed to help their peers.

For more information on peer leadership opportunities at the University of South Carolina visit Peer Leadership Opportunities page listed on the right.