Midwifery PALS: one year on from a successful pilot (2014)

Cathy Malone

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) schemes have been shown to improve students’ grades, improve retention, provide a forum for learning essential study strategies and develop skills in analysis, and critical thinking (Wallace & Rye 1994). PAL schemes that follow the Manchester PASS/SI model provide a model of embedded support at a course level “targeting high risk courses rather than high risk students” (Wallace 96). PAL schemes attempt to tackle retention through incorporating the social inclusion of mentoring with a focus on academic learning. They create a low stakes inclusive context for learning, rooting learning strategy instruction within the academic subject in a very practical and social way. As a result such schemes are recognized as good practice supportive in developing a strong sense of belonging and course identity (Thomas2012, NUS 2013).

“One of the many great benefits of PASS is how it integrates Learning Strategies within academic based group study sessions as well as motivating, exciting and enthusing students about their subject.” (Ody 2014 Head of National PASS /SI Centre personal communication).

This session is an opportunity to hear about such a scheme in Midwifery from the students who have been led it this year. It will provide an account of the scheme and look in particular at the contribution it makes to becoming a health professional.

NUS 2013 NUS Charter on Academic Support available online http://www.worc.ac.uk/academictutor/documents/NUS_AcademicSupportCharter.pdf last accessed 15 May 2014.

Thomas, E. 2012, “Building student engagement and belonging in higher education at a time of change: final report from the What Works? Student Retention and Success programme” HEA Reports http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/what-works-student-retention/What_works_final_report last accessed 15 May 2014

Wallace. J. 1996 ‘Peer tutoring: a collaborative approach’ in S. Wolfendale & J. Corbett (eds) Opening Doors; Learning Support in HE  London Cassell Publishers.

Wallace, J. & Rye, P.D. 1994 “What is Supplemental instruction” in Wallace, J., & Rye, P. D. (eds) Helping students to learn from each other: Supplemental Instruction (pp. 7-8). Birmingham, England: Staff and Educational Development Association.