Guided Study Sessions

The Guided Study Sessions (GSS) program refers to organized study sessions that are led by a qualified and trained facilitator (GSS leader) and offered in conjunction with specific courses. Study sessions are held three times each week outside of class for 60 minutes. Attendance is voluntary and students can attend as often as they like. GSS leaders plan activities that allow students to collaborate, share notes, develop study skills, prepare for exams, and apply course concepts using sample problems and exercises.


Some study sessions are in-person this quarter, while other sessions will take place on Zoom. Students enrolled in a designated GSS course have been added to a GSS Canvas page that includes Zoom links and session information. If you are enrolled in one of these courses and are having difficulty accessing the GSS Canvas page, please email


What is the Guided Study Sessions (GSS) program?

The Guided Study Sessions program refers to organized study groups that are led by a facilitator (GSS leader) and offered in conjunction with specific courses. These study sessions target historically difficult courses (i.e., courses with high withdrawal and failure rates) rather than high-risk students. Study sessions are held three times each week outside of regular class time and generally focus on recent course material. Attendance is voluntary and students can attend as often as they like and at any point during the quarter. Sessions emphasize peer-to-peer collaboration and allow students to share notes, discuss course concepts, develop study skills, and prepare for exams.

Who are the GSS leaders and what do they do?

GSS leaders are students who are knowledgeable about the subject area and have previously completed the course with a B (3.0) or better. They are recommended for the position by faculty and complete an intensive training program. GSS leaders receive regular guidance and feedback from the GSS supervisor(s). Leaders attend all class sessions so they know exactly what information is covered each day. GSS leaders determine which concepts or problems the study sessions will focus on and develop activities that help students better understand this information.

What kinds of activities are used in study sessions?

Activities touch on a variety of learning styles and approaches (e.g., auditory, visual, written, independent, small group) and emphasize effective strategies for studying course materials. For example, students may work in small groups to define terms or solve problems, play Jeopardy-style games that cover course content, or brainstorm possible exam questions. GSS leaders focus the sessions on particularly difficult concepts or problems discussed in class, and all activities emphasize peer-to-peer interaction. The GSS leader does not lecture or reteach.

What are the benefits of Guided Study Sessions?

Studies show that students who attend study sessions are more engaged in class and earn higher overall course grades than those who do not attend. These sessions also help students develop effective study habits.

How is the GSS Program Different from Traditional Tutoring?

Traditional Tutoring

  • Students receive one-on-one help from a tutor
  • Tutoring sessions focus on student's immediate questions or concerns. Tutors do not "plan" sessions.
  • Tutoring takes place as needed during the Bock Learning Center hours of operation
  • Tutors have content area knowledge but are not familiar with what occurs in a student's class on a day-to-day basis
  • Tutors do not work with a student's instructor

Guided Study Sessions

  • Students work alongside peers in GSS leader-facilitated group study sessions.
  • GSS leaders plan activities and focus on particularly difficult concepts or problems from recent class sessions.
  • Guided Study Sessions are scheduled in advance for fifty-minute blocks of time and take place three times per week.
  • Because GSS leaders attend all class sessions, they know which topics are covered in class.
  • GSS leaders receive guidance regarding course content and expectations from a student's instructor.

Requesting Disability Accommodation

If a student would like to request that any branch of tutoring services provide an accommodation due to a disability, they should work directly with Disability Student Services (Student Accessibility Services) to complete the accommodation application paperwork. Information about this process is available on the Student Accessibility Services webpage. Once this step has been completed, tutoring services will work with Student Accessibility Services to determine a reasonable accommodation for the student. Accommodations are generally made on a quarter-by-quarter and class-by-class basis. This means that most arrangements pertain only to a specific class and quarter.

Please note that tutoring services cannot work directly with students to make accommodations as we are not qualified to evaluate individual disabilities. To ensure that student requests are handled in a manner that is informed, consistent, and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accommodation requests must come to us directly from the Student Accessibility Services office.

Become a GSS Leader

Selection Process

To be considered for a GSS leader positions, prospective applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Enrolled in at least 6 credits at Cascadia College or the University of Washington for the quarter they will serve as GSS leader
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all college coursework
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 in GSS discipline coursework
  • Completion of GSS course with a 3.0 or above. Applicants can apply while currently enrolled in their intended GSS course, but a job offer would be contingent upon their completion of the course with a 3.0 or better.

The GSS leader selection process generally starts 4-8 week before the quarter begins. Prospective GSS leaders are often recommended by faculty, but any student who meets the minimum requirements may apply. Interested applicants should review the job description in its entirety. Required application materials are listed at the bottom of the job description. Questions should be directed to GSS Coordinator Sarah Tsai at

Training Requirements: New GSS leaders are required to complete an intensive training session. Those who do not complete this training are not eligible to work as GSS leaders.

Time Commitment: GSS leaders work 10-12 hours each week during the regular quarter:

  • 4 hours/week attending the class
  • 3 hours/week of study sessions
  • 3 hours/week of session prep
  • 0-2 hours/week meeting with the faculty member or GSS supervisor 

Hours may fall below 10 hours during exam weeks.

How to Apply

GSS Leader Job Description

GSS Leader Application

You will notice in the job description that a reference is required. We ask that recommendation writers address the following in their letter:

  1. The applicant’s academic potential. In your experience with the applicant, what is their knowledge and skill level in this area?
  2. The applicant’s ability to work with peers in the classroom. Do they collaborate well with others in a group setting? Do they demonstrate leadership potential?

Cascadia faculty can submit a formal letter or send an informal email to Sarah Tsai at Non-Cascadia faculty should submit a formal letter.