UCL News


UCL in the News: Lend support to students' PAL

17 August 2007

Peer-assisted learning allows advanced students, such as third-years, to help new students to develop their study skills.

PAL is about more advanced students giving less advanced peers extra help in adjusting to university life and developing study skills based on an existing course. …

Judith Macbean, research fellow in the UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning & Teaching, says PAL must be adapted to the needs of the department or particular module into which it is introduced.

She suggests that, before starting a scheme, academics discuss between themselves why PAL is needed and how they hope it will enhance their students' experience. On the other hand, once it is up and running, PAL should not take up too much of lecturers' time, she says.

Student PAL leaders need to feel that they are benefiting from the scheme as much as those they are teaching, says Macbean. This entails giving them autonomy over how the individual sessions are run and organised.

Sarah Mauthoor, who was a PAL leader in maths at UCL last year, says a degree of flexibility is also good. Towards the end of her third year she could not make some of the agreed sessions but had got to know the students well enough to suggest a different time and place if they needed help. …

Mauthoor says she found it useful for the first-year students to know in which topics PAL leaders considered themselves particularly strong so that they knew exactly where to go for help. Distributing topics among the PAL leaders meant that every area was covered without forcing each one to revise everything. …

Harriet Swain, 'Times Higher Education Supplement'