After receiving training the PAL Leaders, facilitate weekly or, fortnightly timetabled study support sessions. Usually this involves second year undergraduate students supporting first year students from the same course. These groups are the same as the students normal seminar group, comprising between 16-25 students, depending on the course. For the larger groups, PAL Leaders often work in pairs - planning sessions together, sharing the workload, and supporting each other.
PAL is supplemental to teaching. Content for PAL sessions is decided upon by the group rather than the Leader and content for discussion is based on existing course materials - handouts, workbooks, lecture notes, text books and set reading.
PAL sessions are intended to be structured, organised and purposeful while also being informal and friendly. In PAL, the emphasis is on everyone in the group working co-operatively and interdependently to develop their understanding. PAL is therefore about exploratory discussion led by the PAL Leaders. The more everyone in the group joins in these discussions, the better the sessions work and develop a sense of student empowerment and ownership of each session.
This interdependent learning between the students who form the PAL group, and between the group and their PAL Leader, are essential if PAL is to work effectively and are likely to have longer term benefits as well.
In order to run effectively PAL requires a partnership with the course teaching team and administrative staff. Academic content is guided by Course Contacts - academic staff who meet regularly with the PAL Leaders to guide them, provide them with course timetables and assignment briefs, and obtain feedback from them. This input is essential in order to fine-tune the general principles upon which PAL is based to the more specific requirements of the course.
Disclaimer: Neither PAL staff nor PAL Leaders can take responsibility for students' marks or grades. Students' success on their course depends upon their own efforts. Additionally, it remains the responsibility of students to get the most from their PAL sessions by attending regularly, coming along prepared with appropriate resources, and through active participation in, and contributions to, the small group discussions which take place during their PAL sessions.