A new volunteer Shop Assistant Program (SAP) in the Faculty of Fine Arts is bringing fine arts students onto the floor of the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Fabrication shop this year.
Twenty-five highly motivated students started as SAPlings in October in the Fabrication shop (EV 8.705) on the ninth floor of the EV Building. Student SAPlings assist and share knowledge with their peers, help other students book equipment or consult with technicians. In exchange, SAPlings receive extra hours in the shop for their own projects, advanced training, and experience with peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.
Joel Taylor, manager of Concordia’s Fine Arts Academic and Research Facilities, says that the latter is an important part of the learning experience for all students.
“Students function as peer mentors to other students all the time – it’s one of the primary ways that students actually learn about things,” says Taylor.
The program was designed to allow students to explore the process of peer-to-peer learning, benefitting students using the shop and the SAPlings themselves. The program needs to be an equitable exchange for student volunteers, says Taylor.
“We didn’t want this to feel like it was just about a missing workload that a student could do for free,” he explains.
Taylor also points out the community that has come together to make this kind of space possible, crediting Breanna Shanahan (program coordinator) and Chris Latchem (Fabrication shop technician), along with other members of Concordia staff and faculty who joined forces to bring the program to life.
“Right now the plan is, once we’re at the end of the semester, to have an evaluation on where things are,” Taylor says. “We need ongoing dialogue as the program continues to grow and settle in.”
Part of what Taylor began to evaluate in December – and what he’ll continue to look at in the Spring – is whether it’s possible to introduce this in other areas.
“Initial evaluation of the project has been positive, but we are trying to figure out how to do more. We are going to create team projects that the SAPlings can work on throughout the semester like making posters or videos and documenting student work.We are also hoping to grow our group again with SAPlings 2.0, applications are due on January 21st.”
Reception from students has been positive. SAPling Ella Webber sees it as a great opportunity for training, access and confidence-building.
“After specific training, you are allowed 24hr access to the Fab shop. This gave me much more time to complete projects that needed that extra bit of time. As a SAPling, your input is valued and encouraged and helped me feel more comfortable in a space that might feel intimidating as a first-year student. I would highly recommend applying!” says Webber.
For more information on the SAP program, and to apply, visit http://www.concordia.ca/saplings.
Deadline for applications is January 21.