Peer Assisted Learning Sessions (PALS)
PALS is a peer-to-peer programme that brings students together in regular group study sessions which are aligned with a first-year course. These study sessions are facilitated by PALS leaders who are motivated and successful past students of that course.
PALS sessions follow a kaupapa of “helping you to help yourself” and supports students in their transition to university by providing them with skills to become independent learners. Students receive academic support in a relaxed and relatable environment, enabling them to develop new study skills and techniques to become confident independent learners. The focus is on general study advice including taking notes and reading academic journal articles, as well as navigating resources such as the University’s student portal.
PALS gives students the opportunity to:
- make connections with their classmates
- revise through group study
- learn study tips and tricks from students who have already aced the course
- learn how to navigate university life more generally in a safe, student-only environment
PALS gives students the opportunity to learn from actual experiences of students who have already succeeded in the same course, easing feelings of uncertainty, and building confidence as they begin their university experience.
“I 100% would recommend PALS for other students to engage in. For me it not only helped me in understanding the content covered in lectures, but it also helped me gain confidence in speaking to other students. The PALS leaders are really helpful and super kind.”
After a successful PALS pilot in 2021, surveys showed significant improvements in academic performance for those who took part. Students taking who attended at least two PALS sessions had a mean course Grade Point Average (GPA) two grades higher than students who did not attend PALS. Also, the course pass rate for PALS students was 95%, compared to non-PALS students who had a course pass rate of 78%.
At the beginning of 2022, PALS expanded to support five first-year courses, with over 250 students attending at least one session. ACCT102 (Accounting) and WRIT101 (Writing for Academic Success) were added to the mix for the programme, and the study sessions continued alongside STAT101 and PSYC105.
PALS Inclusive and PALS Online
We also added two new offerings into the programme as we endeavour to bring support to UC’s student community.
The first offering is designed specifically for neurodiverse students, called PALS Inclusive. One of the PSYC105 PALS leaders, faced challenges in her first year due ADHD and dyslexia, which motivated her to specifically support neurodiverse students in PSYC105 as they navigate university.
One student who attended PALS Inclusive said, “I am really relieved that PALS has created a place for me to come and feel safe in my neurodisability. I don’t feel alone and really appreciate the support that (PALS Leader) has given me as I was close to dropping out of university.”
The second offering is designed specifically for distance students, called PALS Online. Being a distance student comes with its own set of challenges. But our PALS leaders’ have the tips and tricks for being successful as an online student.
PALS Online sessions are delivered through ZOOM, allowing distance students to connect socially and academically with fellow first years. A social media platform is also used to keep the students in contact with the PALS Online Leader. Currently upwards of 40 distance students utilise this platform for support.