SAGE Learning Communities

The Science Advancement through Group Engagement program (SAGE) at Duke University is an opportunity for undergraduate students to work in a small group setting (4-6 students) in weekly study sessions. Led by a specially trained SAGE Learning Facilitators, each group engages in weekly activities that are closely correlated with each course.

SAGE is recognized by academic deans and science faculty at Duke as a premier program for highly motivated students with a strong interest in science learning at Duke. SAGE is successful in part because of the quality of our facilitators who bring knowledge, insight, empathy, and strong inter-personal skills to their work with their peers.

SAGE helps students learn how to study chemistry, provides extra support for the challenging material, and fosters a collaborative and proactive community of learners. SAGE is currently offered for the introductory chemistry sequence (4 courses).

Participating in SAGE

SAGE students are highly motivated, want to establish a critical foundation for science learning at Duke, and are interested in learning in a community with other students. SAGE is a small, selective program and admission is by invitation only and on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you are a SAGE student, you are making a strong commitment to participate — that's why it works! You are also expected to work on the course material regularly and frequently in addition to attending the SAGE sessions. Finally, you will be expected to be prepared for each session and actively participate! Groups will meet once a week for 1.5 hrs. 

In addition, as a SAGE participant, you receive additional benefits such as access to a personal iPad for the semester and access to specially trained SAGE individual tutors.

Program Structure

The SAGE program centers on a learning community, which is composed of facilitated learning groups, which are directly tied to specific science courses. The program integrates experiential learning with reflection, individualized activities, resources and relationships. 

Each learning group consists of 4-6 participants and one learning facilitator.

  • facilitated weekly meetings (SAGE Sessions), which engage with course content and develop both independent and collaborative learning techniques
  • activities to integrate academic science learning with students' learning 
  • intensive development and mentoring of Learning Facilitators
  • opportunity for participants to work with ARC learning consultants and peer tutors, in coordination with their SAGE Sessions experience
  • networking with campus partners including advisors, Deans, other learning communities at Duke, (such as the Cardea Fellows Program), and support services to allow students to create and resource their own Duke experience
  • ongoing communication between the SAGE staff and the respective course faculty to closely coordinate session activities with  structure and pace of the course
  • assessment and research collaborations connected to the fields of Science Education, Peer Education, and the Learning and Student Development Sciences

Benefits and Outcomes

For SAGE Participants:
  • a strong sense of belonging via academic community and peer mentorship
  • guidance in accessing and managing campus resources
  • acquisition of multiple learning skills and techniques
  • deep engagement with course content
  • honed observation, analysis, and communication skills
  • increased self-awareness
  • increased capacities to self-manage as independent and collaborative learners and leaders
  • confidence as a college science student
For SAGE Learning Facilitators:
  • training in facilitating small groups, interpersonal coaching skills
  • knowledge of discipline-specific science education research and pedagogy
  • deepened self-awareness and communication skills
  • development of leadership skills and ability to “think on your feet”
  • an increased understanding of and value for working with diverse groups
  • a sense of community both within their SAGE group and within the TA cohort