Carnegie Mellon University

Academic Development

The Learning Zone

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What is an EXCEL Group Leader?

EXCEL Collaborative Group Leaders are undergraduate students who, after completing required training in collaborative learning techniques; facilitate weekly small-group sessions for select courses. EXCEL sessions are interactive and serve to review the material through collaboration of group members, not leader-directed review. The leader is responsible for meeting with professors weekly to clarify course content and material. They must plan and implement their sessions using input from the professor, the students in the group and various instructional techniques that encourage group interaction.

What does an EXCEL Group Leader do?

  • Conducts one EXCEL session per week, per group. There can be multiple groups per course.
  • Reviews course content rather than reteach, lecture, or complete students’ assignments for them
  • Plans interactive learning activities that integrate study strategies with course content
  • Prepares handouts, learning aids, and informal quizzes for EXCEL sessions to address various learning styles
  • Models effective student practices and attitudes
  • Meets weekly with the course professor and/or the TA to discuss content/material covered in class
  • Works 5 to 12 hours per week

The benefits of being an EXCEL Group Leader:

  • Develops leadership skills
  • Reinforces and builds your own content knowledge
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Gain satisfaction from helping other students to succeed academically
  • Paid campus position


  • Minimum overall QPA of 3.5
  • An "A" in the course you wish to support
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • A commitment to helping other students learn
  • Satisfactory completion of EXCEL training course


Selected applicants participate in training in an interesting and fun setting. Trainees will receive 4.5 units for satisfactorily completing the nine week training course. Training will cover topics in: learning styles, study skills, collaborative instructional techniques, role playing and facilitating EXCEL sessions. Trainees will conduct mock EXCEL sessions to hone their facilitation skills and will have the opportunity to work with experienced EXCEL Group Leaders.

Below is a representative list of courses we support with the EXCEL Group program. The exact courses we will recruit for each term are listed in the application itself.
  • 03121 Modern Biology
  • 03151 Honors Modern Bio
  • 03220 Genetics
  • 03231 Biochemistry I
  • 06221 Thermodynamics I
  • 06261 Fluid Mechanics
  • 06262 Mathematical Methods of ChemE
  • 09218 Organic Chemistry II
  • 15151 Math Foundations for CS
  • 18100 Intro to ECE
  • 18240 Structure and Design of Digital Systems
  • 18290 Signals & Systems
  • 21127 Concepts of Math
  • 21128 Math Concepts and Proofs
  • 21241 Matrices & Linear Transformations
  • 21259 Calculus in 3D
  • 21260 Differential Equations
  • 33121 Physics I for Science
  • 33122 Physics II for Bio and Chem
  • 33142 Physics II for Engr & Physics
  • 42202 Physiology