SAGE Overview

The STEM 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 specially trained SAGE Peer Facilitators, each group engages in weekly activities that are closely correlated with each course.

SAGE is recognized by academic deans and STEM faculty at Duke as a premier program for highly motivated students with a strong interest in STEM 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 science and math, provides extra support for the challenging material, and fosters a collaborative and proactive community of learners. SAGE is currently offered for the introductory biology, chemistry and math courses.

Participating in SAGE

SAGE students are highly motivated, want to establish a critical foundation for STEM learning at Duke, and are interested in learning in a community with other students.

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 hour. 

Program Structure

The SAGE program centers on a learning community, which is composed of facilitated learning groups, which are directly tied to specific STEM 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) in an online format for Fall 2020.  These sessions engage with course content and develop both independent and collaborative learning techniques
  • activities to integrate academic STEM learning with students' learning 
  • intensive development and mentoring of Peer 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 and Math 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 STEM student
For SAGE Peer Facilitators:
  • training in facilitating small groups, interpersonal coaching skills
  • knowledge of discipline-specific STEM 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 peer facilitator cohort