Penn State Learning honors guided study group leaders

May 07, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two students were honored with the Outstanding Guided Study Group Leader Award through Penn State Learning for the spring 2018 semester.

Rosemary Nicholson and Zach Ricci both earned a certificate of recognition for their work within Penn State Learning and a stipend of $500, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and former study group leader.

The award recognizes study group leaders’ commitment to creating and sustaining a welcoming and academically supportive learning community for the course they are assigned. Working closely with course instructors and routinely attending class sessions, study group leaders host drop-in study sessions where they review course materials and help students hone their problem-solving skills in a stimulating and challenging, collaborative learning environment. Both of this semester’s recipients exemplify the award criteria, according to their nominators.

Rosemary Nicholson has led the ECON 104: Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis GSG for five semesters. Bill Goffe, associate teaching professor of economics, nominated Nicholson and praised her work.

“To me, the most valuable way to evaluate this position are the views of students in the course,” Goffe said. “When I look at comments in my student ratings of teaching effectiveness and in surveys that I myself run, many students volunteer that the GSG sessions are very valuable. Some even say that the GSG sessions were the thing that helped them most in the course. This speaks to the work, effort and dedication that Rosemary puts into being a GSG leader. I have found her particularly easy to work with. She is prompt in contacting me when she has a question and also prompt when I have a question of her. She does her work with good cheer. In addition, she is responsible beyond her years. For example, this semester when she was searching for a job she always gave students adequate notice about changes in GSG hours and locations. More generally, I never had to worry about her doing her job — I knew that I could simply depend upon her.”

Nicholson graduated in May with a degree in BioRenewable Systems and will work for Qualtrics in Portland, Ore.

Ricci, a statistics major, has led the GSG for STAT 200: Elementary Statistics for five semesters.

Jenny Shook, lecturer in the Department of Statistics, said of Ricci, “Zach has a contagious enthusiasm for statistics. He uses examples that students can relate to and his love of teaching and helping others is evident within five minutes of being around him. Students feel like Zach cares about them and their understanding of the concepts in class. He creates dynamic presentations for his GSG sessions and has made them available for students after the sessions. He also creates amazing practice problems to help students prepare for exams. Zach is a model GSG leader and he has helped other STAT 200 GSG leaders improve in their own skills. He has also helped me with live class demonstrations about probability and random chance. I love how his happy attitude makes me and my students feel, especially at 8 a.m. in a large lecture hall where it is all too easy to be unnoticed.”

Ricci said he will continue his work as a GSG leader for STAT 200 in Fall 2018.

Additional information about the awards process and other ways to give to Penn State Learning is available at In addition to providing no-charge guided study groups supporting a wide range of courses, Penn State Learning also provides tutoring in mathematics, world languages, public speaking, and writing.

Penn State Learning is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at


Last Updated May 09, 2018