Peer Tutor Spotlight – Ria Goel

Photo source: Ria Goel

Hello! My name is Ria Goel and I am a third-year student in the Integrated Sciences program, specializing in genetics and physiology. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and then moved to South Surrey when I was in grade 7. In my free time, I like to volunteer at senior homes and go for long walks on the beach with my dog!

I am currently in my second term as the peer tutor for BIOL 200, a course I really enjoyed as a student because of its emphasis on experimental data and application-based questions.

What do you most enjoy about being a peer tutor?

I enjoyed helping students and watching them grasp increasingly complex ideas, especially that “Aha” moment when they finally understand a question they were struggling with for a while. I also love getting to know the students, as they have so many interesting experiences and perspectives!

What has being a peer tutor brought to your undergraduate experience?

Being a peer tutor has definitely helped me improve my leadership and communication skills, for which I am very grateful. Hosting 2-hour long review sessions, speaking in front of a full lecture hall, and finding new ways of explaining a concept are all things that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. This job has also driven me to learn more in-depth about biological processes and build a stronger foundation so that I am able to confidently answer questions.

It has been really fun being on the other side, part of the teaching team! I have gained an appreciation and understanding of the work my professors and TAs put into their courses.

What has been an interesting outcome of your peer tutoring experience?

BIOL 200 is infamously known for its lack of answer keys to the problem sets. As a student, I desperately wanted an answer key to tell me if I was on the right track. As a peer tutor, I now realize how beneficial it is to not have that safety net because it forces students to think critically, make study groups (and friends!), regularly meet with instructors, and keep up with the lectures. It is definitely interesting to see how my views have changed after becoming a peer tutor!

What is something you are currently doing/recently did at UBC that you are excited about?

I worked on a genetics teaching project this past year with Dr. Pam Kalas, where we created a pedigree case study and a genetics assumptions video, to be used in BIOL 121 and SCIE001! The purpose of this project was to “debunk the misconception of genetic essentialism” – or in other words, help students avoid making assumptions about a person’s characteristics based solely on their genetics. This work was really exciting because I got to learn a lot about genetic disorders and their complexities! This project helped me realize that I also made similar false assumptions, which has now changed the way I perceive and learn biology.

Poster describing project

What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?

I am a Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical) dancer and have been learning since I was 7 years old. I have performed in various cities across Canada and recently graduated from my dance academy, where I did a 2-hour solo performance for a 300+ audience.

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