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Why do it?

Benefits to the institution

  • PAL provides evidence of additional guidance and support which is run by students for students
  • Evidence of cost-effective additional student support which can be used for Institutional Audit, Subject Review or for course marketing
  • Creates links between year groups which can help develop a more cohesive course culture
  • Increases the level of student involvement in and ownership of learning
  • Support can be targeted at specific areas of a course or programme which students find particularly challenging with an aim to improve student understanding
  • PAL Leaders provide additional and considered feedback for the Course Team
  • In their PAL Leaders, the Course gains altruistic and committed students who can help promote the course and meet with internal or external reviewers
  • PAL Leaders have an opportunity to practise and develop a wide range of personal and professional skills thereby gaining improved employability either when seeking industrial placement or upon graduation.

Benefits to the academic

  • PAL provides a supportive environment for first year students who have a mentor to turn to for first line support and advice
  • PAL leaders act as an early point of contact for new students and are often able to sort out or advise on many first year students' problems - especially those associated with settling in to university life. Formerly, many of these issues would have needed to be addressed by a member of the course team - usually the Course Leader, First Year Tutor or Personal Tutor
  • PAL Leaders are also able to provide answers to the types of questions that students would prefer to ask of another student rather than a member of staff
  • Our evaluations at Bournemouth have indicated that, through attending their PAL sessions, first year students:
    - develop and improve their independent learning and study skills
    - acquire a better awareness of course direction and staff expectations
    - are more likely to come better prepared for in-class discussions
    - improve their ability to manage their workload and keep up with course work
    - learn to work more effectively in a peer-based group
  • PAL Leaders also provide an additional and valuable channel for feedback to the Course Team.

Benefits to leaders

  • Leaders often feedback that they have gained in confidence
  • Presentation and leadership skills are matured over the academic year as the Leaders have to present with conviction on a weekly basis to a group of students
  • PAL Leaders have indicated that, through their experiences in PAL, they have both developed their personal and professional skills and have gained experience that has proved valuable on their CV and at job interviews
  • Leaders have to develop their time management skills when planning and delivering their PAL sessions
  • Leaders also indicate the benefit of revisiting and reviewing Year 1 course materials again because this process helps to underpin their studies in year 2

Benefits to student participants

  • Students like the safe environment that PAL offers as they can admit to not understanding a particular part of the course within a peer setting. They can meet new people on their course which is beneficial especially in the first few weeks
  • Enjoy and benefit from the small group work and collaborative discussions that take place during PAL where they can decide what course related issue they wish to review, discuss, or practise
  • Recognise the ways in which PAL has improved their independent learning and study skills
  • PAL improves students' understanding of the subject content of their course as well as being able to put it into practise with the supervision of a more experienced student (the PAL Leader)
  • Gain experience in study skills and revision techniques that aid the students academically