Peer Assisted Learning
Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) utilizes student facilitators, who have succeeded in historically challenging courses, to facilitate collaborative review sessions multiple times each week. PAL facilitators can also be directly involved in facilitating classroom activities and discussions (especially useful when a faculty member engages in active learning or a flipped classroom model).
PAL facilitators are students who have earned an A or B in the course they will facilitate or a higher level course in the same discipline. They have also had letters of recommendation written by two of their professors.
How PAL Courses are Chosen?
At the University of Louisville, the PAL program is for courses in which historically 30% or more of the students have final course grades of D, F, or W. The course should also have 100 or more students enrolled in it
Benefits of Using PAL for Students
Student participants will learn how to study effectively- both independently and collaboratively. They will also develop a deeper understanding of course material and how it applies to their world. This will translate into better grades and a higher level of confidence that they belong at U of L and can succeed academically here.
What can PAL do and What can't it do?
PAL can help students learn how to study both independently and collaboratively. It also helps students learn from one another, verify actual course knowledge, challenge them to teach material back to the PAL facilitator, and prepare them for future courses. PAL cannot replace the professor’s lectures or in-class assignments. PAL facilitators will never cover material in their sessions that has not been already covered in class. Attending PAL sessions does not guarantee that a student will be successful on their exams and other assignments. Students must still be responsible for their own learning.
During PAL sessions at U of L, students are given the opportunity to begin mastering the material that the professor has either covered in class or assigned for them to learn about outside of class (for flipped classroom courses). This is accomplished in a variety of ways including:
- Reviewing worksheets created by PAL facilitator
- Solving problems similar to the ones seen on course assignments
- Drawing diagrams of various processes
- Organizing course concepts using graphs and tables
- Defining course terms and vocabulary
- Thinking critically about and applying course material to real world scenarios
- Identifying the order of occurrences/steps in a given process.
During the majority of these activities, PAL facilitators encourage the students to work together (either as a big group or in smaller groups); this encourages the students to learn from one another and use each other as resources. If everyone at a session has shared their ideas and all attendees have no idea how to proceed, the facilitator will give a brief (2 to 5 minute) explanation of that concept and then offer the students additional opportunities to practice independently in that area now that they understand it.