How PAL can help you

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a student-to-student support scheme aimed to support students with their transition to University and contribute to the wider student experience.

If you are a Foundation, Year 1 or top-up student, and your course has PAL, your sessions are intended to help you:

  • gain a deeper understanding of course content and expectations
  • boost your study habits and potentially, increase your marks
  • find out about what the following year of your course will be like, as well as placements
  • connect more with other students and see how they are doing
  • a sense of community and social presence while you're learning.
Group of students working at a table.

How PAL works

How peer support is delivered

We plan for 2021/22 PAL sessions to to be in person, on campus, but some schemes may take a blended approach with a number of sessions delivered online via Microsoft Teams over the course of the academic year.

All PAL participants are encourages to stay connected in between sessions by engaging with their PAL group via their PAL-specific team area on Microsoft Teams.

How PAL is different from other forms of academic and study skills support

  • PAL sessions are led by trained students (PAL Leaders) who can understand and relate to the questions, challenges and experiences you have. They have been where you are now and understand your worries, fears and confusions.
  • PAL sessions are collaborative group study sessions in which you can share your own processes and approaches, hear other people’s questions and explore answers together in an informal environment.
  • PAL sessions are not drop-ins so you can come along without a question and without needing help. If you only take one thing away, it could boost your marks.
  • The subject support and study skills tips are provided by students who have studied your course content recently.
  • Session content can be driven by you and your peers.
  • PAL focuses on the process, not just the outcome. In other words, PAL doesn’t just help you know the answers, but helps you to come to the answers yourself.
  • PAL is where you can share ideas, talk about issues and make mistakes without fear of judgement and where communication is informal, authentic and personalised.

Who runs the PAL sessions?

Sessions are run by your PAL Leader. They:

  • are normally from the academic year above in the same discipline so have been where you are now
  • have received training and are in regular contact with the PAL office and academics in your programme to ensure that PAL sessions are relevant and well-structured
  • will create opportunities for you to ask questions about course material and university life, explore ideas and concepts in more depth and develop your study skills in a relaxed and friendly environment
  • will share their experiences, provide support and advice, and signpost you to other services at the University where you can get help
  • won't teach you, check your work or provide all the answers.

Get PAL support

  1. Step 1

    If your course is on the below lists, then PAL should be in your timetable and something which you engage with on a regular basis.

    You can also listen out for 'PAL' during your orientation period to the University.

    If your course isn’t listed, please contact PAL or look at the information below about how to engage with our peer-led Resilient U workshops, which are open to all students across the University.

    If you are a student in FBL, you can also access PAL study skills workshops as part of the Learning Hub provision. Please see the Events Diary for further information in September/October.

  2. Step 2

    Your group will be small enough for you to work together - sharing ideas, problem solving, completing tasks and checking understanding.

    Sessions at the start of the year are usually focused on settling in, getting orientated to the campus, and the University’s secrets to success. Later on, sessions are more linked to content that you have covered in lectures, seminars or workshops. You can also receive support and advice on exam techniques, assignment/project preparation, referencing, presentation skills and how to act on lecturer feedback.

    How to make the most of your PAL support

    • PAL is about gaining a deeper understanding of your course content and creating an informal learning community. So even if you aren't struggling or have a question, attend your PAL sessions - you'll get something out of each session.
    • Participate in PAL activity during Starting Block so you can get to know what PAL is, meet your PAL Leader(s) and find out who is in your PAL group.
    • Take some time to familiarise yourself with Microsoft Teams, the virtual platform for PAL sessions, to ensure you feel confident using it. View our guide to using Microsoft teams.
    • Before each session, let your PAL Leader know the topics you would like to explore with your peers in your PAL MS Team.
    • Be willing to share your ideas, ask those 'silly' questions and reflect on your own learning. Active participation is especially important during group work activities in breakout rooms.
    • Stay connected with your PAL group and PAL Leader(s) between sessions through your MS Team.
    • Don’t expect to be taught. PAL Leaders are facilitators and mentors, not teachers or content experts. They will help you to help yourself.
    • Ask your PAL Leader about learning strategies.
    • Give your PAL Leader constructive feedback.
    • If you miss a few of your timetables sessions, don't worry. Engage with your PAL Leader and PAL group via your PAL MS Team in your own time. You can also rejoin the live sessions again at any point during the semester.

Support for students in all years

Our peer-led PAL Resilient U workshops are open to all students across the University. Often referred to as bounce-back-ability, resilience is what gives us our strength to manage uncertainty and adversity in our lives, and the anxiety that can come about as a result. It is also about enhancing performance by using resilience tools and techniques to get better at what you do in terms of study or in your personal life.

PAL Resilient U workshops
Student holding a mug in student accommodation.

What to expect from PAL

Find out what happens in a PAL session.

"It makes you realise you're not the only one struggling, it helps to consolidate knowledge or learn it in a different way that makes more sense."

PAL participant, First year

PAL participant First year

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