Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) @ Bradford
Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) aims to support the student learning experience by utilising and enabling peer interaction and support.
Schemes are based on good practice from the HE sector, can be tailored to suit particular groups of students and are coordinated centrally by the Student Experience and Success Team (SEST) in partnership with programme teams.
PAL involves students in higher levels (e.g. second or third years) volunteering as our PAL Leaders to facilitate regular small group learning and support sessions with new students, which are timetabled within programmes of study.
PAL at Bradford has two central aims, these are to:
- Support the transition of new students into university life and study
- Provide an employability opportunity for students in higher levels
The scheme also strives to develop a sense of community and belonging for students in their programme/department, enabling inter-level interaction and an environment in which peer to peer learning can take place.
PAL schemes can also enable students to:
- Share experiences
- Improve their understanding of key programme and university related knowledge
- Develop transferable skills and attributes such as group working and confidence
A crucial principle underpinning the scheme is that it is student centred and determined. Students decide what to cover in sessions and these are facilitated by the student PAL Leaders. Sessions are co-participatory and involve group and social learning/support. They can focus on academic aspects such as programme content and study skills and/or can offer social interaction and support. PAL therefore offers a unique learning environment in that it is personalised and gives students an informal space, led by them, to work through materials, ideas and questions together.
In 2012/13 a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme was piloted by SEST and the Department of Computing. The project was funded by the National HE STEM Programme. Since then, progress has been really positive and each year more schemes have been established.
For 2017/18 we now have 22 schemes running across all 5 faculties and about 150 PAL Leaders will be trained and supported to work with over 1500 of our new first years. It's great to see so many students volunteering to make a difference and staff support from the programmes has been essential in establishing and developing these schemes.
It is hoped that PAL will continue to grow so that even more students will have the opportunity to engage in peer support.
Recognition for PAL
Growing evidence from the sector and internally to demonstrate the value and impact of PAL on areas such us:
- supporting transition and engagement with studies
- skills development
- employability and future focus
- developing a sense of belonging
"those involved in PAL can show greater engagement, improved grades and better retention" (Keenan 2014).
Winner of the 'Vice-Chancellors Teaching Excellence Awards' 2015 for PAL.
Noted in 2014 QAA Higher Education Review of the University of Bradford.
Ruth Lefever, PAL Scheme Manager, member of the National Academic Peer Learning Leadership Group
If you are a student or a staff member who would like to know more, please email:
Ruth Lefever, PAL Scheme Manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org