Cathy Pink, Jake Ledger, Sherin Rajan, Philip Watson & Jack Wordsworth
This year a Peer Assisted Learning programme was piloted within ACES on Computer Network Engineering whereby 2nd year students facilitated regular PAL sessions with 1st year students. From a Faculty perspective, the programme aimed to build a sense of belonging amongst participants, support academic skill development and ultimately raise attainment. Ongoing evaluation will provide evidence as to whether the initial aims of the programme were met with regards to 1st year students. However, there are also many outcomes for the students who deliver peer support and there has been less focus on this aspect. This session provides a practical overview as to what is involved in delivering a peer support scheme, gives 2nd year students a chance to voice their experiences and explain what they believe the value of this type of approach can be.
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.
Jeff Waldock, Hannah Bartholomew, Xinjun Cui, Sue Forder, David Greenfield, Wodu Majin, John Metcalfe and Mike Robinson
Student engagement with course material can be variable. Lectures are often didactic, information being transmitted by the lecturer with student interaction occurring rarely if at all. Such lectures do not normally require students to actively engage with the taught material, concentrating rather on copying down what is said and not thinking about it for themselves. A different problem occurs in group tutorials where it is often difficult to get everyone to make productive use of the time.
In-class response systems can provide a solution, promoting cooperative learning with “students becoming active participants in their learning” (Beatty, 2006). The purpose of including these systems in the classroom has multiple benefits – principally to introduce an element of dialogue and team working into the session, but also to maintain engagement and stimulate interest. Beatty explains the process as involving six stages:
- Provision of a question for discussion
- Small peer group discussion – probably just for a minute or two
- Provision of a peer group response
- Class discussion
- General tutor observations, possibly presented as a micro-lecture
- Closure – summarising the topic, then moving on.
An example of a suitable tool of this kind is ‘Socrative‘, which allows a lecturer to present ad-hoc or prepared quizzes (multiple choice or short-answer) to students in class. We have used Socrative in many ways within ACES during the last year, and will share our experiences and student feedback, discussing with participants how this approach could be of benefit to them. Participants will also be invited to join a Socrative Special Interest Group.
If you plan to attend, and own a smartphone or tablet device, please download and install the free ‘Socrative Student’ and ‘Socrative Teacher’ apps first. If you don’t have a device you will be able to pair up with another participant.
Beatty, I.D et. al., “Designing Effective Questions for Classroom Response System Teaching”, Am. J Phys., 74, pp31-39, 2006.