Peer Assisted Learning Guide 2014-15

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    Section 1 : What is PAL?

    PAL Leader Profile2

    What is PAL?3

    Your Experiences of PAL...4

    Facilitation vs. Teaching5

    Section 2 : How to Prepare, Lead and Facilitate a PAL Session

    Before the Session..6

    Start of the Session.......7

    During the Session..9

    Ending the Session10

    Section 3 : Strategies and Skills

    Facilitation & Communication: Listening.12

    Facilitation & Communication: Questioning..13

    Facilitation & Communication: Working with Different Cultures..15

    Getting Students into Groups.17

    Strategies and Suggestions for PAL19 Changing the Room Layouts22

    Encouraging Participation.23

    Dealing with Challenging Situations..27

    Section 4 : Relationships

    Support for Leaders: Key Contacts.29

    Using myBU for PAL..33

    Netiquette: Using Facebook and Email Effectively for PAL..34

    Section 5 : Your First Session and Admin

    Your First Session .37

    PAL Paperwork and Payment.40

    PAL Leader Observations..41

    Promoting PAL to your Students Sheet.42

    Simulated Session Template..43

    Section 6 : Additional Notes

    Additional Notes.44

    The materials in this Guide have been based on resources produced by: Hugh Fleming; David Jaques; Stuart Capstick; Janice Hurne; Alison Green;

    Tamsyn Smith; Steve Parton; Michael Knight and Charlotte Thackeray with grateful acknowledgements to the individuals and organisations whose

    materials we have adapted. These include: Jenni Wallace; University of Missouri Kansas City; Graham Gibbs' Learning in Teams; The Oxford Centre for

    Staff Development; the PASS National Centre at the University of Manchester and Trevor Habeshaw. Some of the resources on different learning

    experiences have been reproduced from the publication Learning to Learn with the kind permission of Imperial College, London. Copyright Bournemouth

    University 2014.

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    PAL Leader Profile

    Training: Attend the compulsory 2 day training sessions during May, June or September

    Level of Commitment: Preparation time for each session (30 minutes), facilitate a weekly

    or fortnightly PAL session (1hour); some courses will be required to attend debrief

    session, (approx. 30 minutes)

    Action in sessions: Facilitate the discussions; be supportive; signpost students to

    appropriate help; take attendance for evaluation work; in some cases you will have to

    work with another PAL Leader; give 1st years confidence to ask questions within PAL (to

    each other) and outside (eg. to lecturers)

    Action outside sessions: Email and Facebook the PAL group to remind of session

    time/location; ask first years if there are specifics they would like to cover and advertise

    this if necessary; keep in contact with your PAL Leader partner (if necessary), course

    contacts and PAL Central


    Personal Qualities: Trustworthy; non-judgemental; role-model (not perfect but a

    demonstration you have survived 1st-year); team player; enthusiasm; friendly; approachable; confident; committed; emotionally intelligent

    Personal and Professional Skills:

    Communication; time management; organisation and planning; facilitation; leadership;


    Support for you: Regular contact with Staff whether in your school or with the PAL Central

    team; additional training and support if required; at least one observation to check how

    you are progressing; recognition and reward (Student Development Award points and

    celebration event in March); an opportunity for you to improve PAL for future Leaders

    (survey and focus groups)

    What PAL does: Helps students adjust to university life and get to know other students

    Helps students gain a greater perspective of their programme, its direction and staff expectations

    Develops and improves learning and study skills to meet course requirements

    Enhances students understanding of programme content through collaborative group discussion and activities

    Helps students prepare better for assignments and exams

    Makes students feel more confident about their programme and about working with each other

    Fosters cross-year support between students on the same programme

    Develops group and team-working skills

    Enables sharing of experiences

    Encourages independent learning

    Gives students responsibility for setting the agenda

    Encourages students to consolidate and evaluate their learning

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    Training Activity: Which of the principles seem most important to you? Please mark each one on a scale

    from 1 to 5 where 1 is not really important and 5 is very important. Then identify which 4 are most important to you

    Share your ideas with a partner. Explain your choices and ask them to explain theirs

    Join another pair and share your ideas

    Between your group of four, identify the 3 which are most important to you as a group, and then prioritise them. Be prepared to explain your choices during feedback

    PAL is based upon the following principles and practices: My Rating





    1. It supports student learning.

    2. It fosters cross-year support for students (see 3 below).

    3. It is facilitated by more experienced students, usually from the year

    above, who provide a point of contact for new or less experienced students.

    4. It enhances students experience of university life.

    5. It is participative: students work in small groups, engaging in

    discussions and a variety of interactive learning activities.

    6. It is timetabled.

    7. It encourages collaborative learning rather than competitive learning.

    8. It works on both what students learn and how they learn.

    9. It creates a safe environment where students are encouraged to ask

    questions and receive guidance from other students about the programme

    and its content.

    10. It uses the language and terms specific to the subject discipline.

    11. It helps students gain insight into the requirements of their programme,

    and their lecturers expectations.

    12. It involves active rather passive learning.

    13. It encourages independent learning.

    14. It helps students to develop a more positive attitude towards learning,

    keeping up with their studies and completing their programme.

    15. It gives students opportunities to improve their academic performance.

    16. What is discussed is confidential and remains within the PAL Group.

    17. It benefits all students regardless of their current academic ability.

    18. It gives students a place and time to practise the subject, learn from

    mistakes and build up confidence.

    19. It gives PAL Leaders opportunities to revisit their prior learning.

    20. It enables PAL Leaders to practise and develop their personal and

    professional skills.

    What is PAL?

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    Your Experiences of PAL

    1. What did you feel like when you first came to university?

    2. How did PAL help you settle in?

    3. How did your PAL Leaders structure/organise sessions?

    4. How did your PAL Leaders get everyone to participate?

    5. What benefits did you gain from PAL?

    6. What improvements would you like to make to the PAL sessions you lead?

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    Facilitation vs. Teaching As a PAL Leader you will probably have to reiterate that you are NOT like a lecturer or

    tutor several times. However, some of the skills involved with teaching and facilitation

    overlap. Nevertheless, there are many areas where the role of a facilitator differs to a

    teacher. You should all be used to the teaching style and you may have noticed your own

    PAL Leader/s last year sometimes acting like a teacher, especially when they felt the PAL

    group was not responding as well as they had thought.

    Training Activity: You will be shown a PowerPoint demonstrating styles that a teacher

    would use. In your groups discuss what the role of a facilitator is, then feedback to the

    group. You can make notes in the box below.

    Questions to consider:

    What does it mean to be a facilitator?

    How does the role of a facilitator work?

    Have you ever seen a good example of facilitation?

    How could you help your students become independent/self-directed learners?

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    How to Prepare, Lead and Facilitate a PAL Session Over the next few pages we will cover how to run a typical PAL session. This is how your session

    should be planned and delivered. Every course runs differently and a number of courses that use

    computers (e.g. in the Media School or Faculty of Science and Technology) are more likely to rely

    on PC lab style sessions than a traditional seminar format. However, the plan below can be applied to any course, so you should follow this guidance to organise your sessions.

    Before the Session: Preparation

    As emphasised a lot throughout this Guide, preparation is key to being a successful PAL

    Leader, otherwise session scan lack purpose, lose focus, and ultimately that can impact

    on students motivation to attend. So follow these steps before your PAL group meets:

    1. Contact your Group before the session

    At the end of your last PAL session, you agreed the main topic for discussion for your forthcoming PAL session with your group

    Post an announcement on your Facebook group or send an email (using your BU email account) to your students 2-3 days beforehand to remind them of the

    topic(s) they agreed they wanted to discuss

    Read and reply to any responses you receive from your students

    Remind them to bring along relevant notes, hand-outs, text books, etc. so that they can refer to these during small group discussions

    Ask if there are any new topics, perhaps arising out of this weeks lectures, they would also like to discuss

    TIP: It can be helpful to have a look at the first year (Level C) units on myBU

    2. Use the PAL Session Plan and Session Review (available in PAL Essentials in PAL Central) to help you plan your session

    Think back to how the last PAL session went. If you filled in a Session Review form read through it.

    Remind yourself of the topic(s) your group want to discuss. Have a quick read through your notes from last year. However, as you are not going to try to re-teach

    them, all you need to do is familiarise yourself with the topic(s) rather than try to

    relearn it all perfectly.

    Check the materials available in myBU and obtain any necessary information from the appropriate lecturer as this can be invaluable especially if you plan to discuss

    a piece of assessed work in your PAL session

    Dont assume that all first year units (titles, lectures, assignments) are exactly the same as when you studied them

    TIP: Consider planning your PAL sessions with another Leader. This can be useful as a

    means of sharing information as well as getting new ideas.

    3. Plan group work and activities

    Consider what small group techniques youre going to use such as pair-work, pyramid, or jigsaw(refer to pages 19- 20 of this Guide for Getting Students into Groups and (look in Session ideas in PAL Central for more ideas)

    Think about the composition of the small groups or pairs you want people to work in. Are you happy for people to pick their own groups or do you want to put

    students together who dont know each other well?

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    Consider the type of learning activities youre going to facilitate. For example you might want to run a quiz, review the content of a recent lecture, give students a

    chance to practise presentations, or analyse an assignment

    4. Plan the structure for the session

    Consider a possible structure for the session and how much time you would set aside for each activity

    Allow enough time for each pair/group to feedback. This period of group feedback is usually the part of the PAL session where students get most benefit

    (while you get to develop and utilise your facilitation skills), so try to set aside

    around 15 minutes for this activity

    TIP: It can be helpful to have a look at materials in the myBU Academic Skills Community

    for inspiration and ideas

    5. On the day

    Try to get to the room before the session starts and make the space work for you and your students e.g. move tables into groups for discussion,(refer to page 24 of

    this Guide for Changing Room Layouts)

    If this isnt possible, move chairs so that people will be sitting face-to-face across a table rather than being seated in rows or around the outside of a horseshoe



















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    Start of the Session

    1. Getting started

    Welcome your students to PAL and thank them for any responses they have made on the Facebook page, e-mail or by phone

    Check that you are all agreed on topic for discussion

    Check that people have brought along the appropriate lecture notes, hand-outs, textbooks, etc. to refer to during their discussions (if they have forgotten their

    notes encourage sharing)

    2. Check what they are doing at that stage of their course

    Take a few minutes to check with your group how their studies are going. In particular you should ask students:

    o What they have looked at in their studies, lectures, seminars, workshops, reading, etc. since the last PAL session

    o When particular pieces of assessed coursework are due to be handed in

    Encourage other members of the group to chip in with additional points they thought were important too

    TIP: Avoid vague questions such as Has anyone got any problems? Such questions will rarely receive useful responses or could risk leading the session a negative direction

    Other questions you could ask might include: o What have you read / watched / learned that you could share and we

    could discuss? (e.g. about an assignment or seminar activity)

    o What lectures have you had during the last week? o What new ideas have been presented to you? o What new theory has been presented? Can you outline the details? o What new factual information has been presented? o What were the most difficult issues that were covered? o Which lectures would you like to look at again?

    To help them do this encourage them to look through their notes to remind themsel...


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