Faculty of Science

Peer Assisted Learning

Further information

Contact

Contact Dr Keal Byrne (program coordinator) for more information about PAL or how to register.

Useful Links

Group of students studying together

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a free peer-led group study program for science students.

The PAL program consists of voluntary weekly study group sessions. These sessions are facilitated by ‘PAL leaders’ who are current students that have successfully completed the unit before.

Peer-learning is known to be a powerful learning technique. In fact, past PAL participants have said that one hour of PAL is equivalent to studying for four hours alone! PAL is voluntary, and is non-remedial; it is not just for students who are struggling, it can be used by anyone to study effectively and stay on top of your studies by consolidating concepts each week.

PAL is offered for several core Level 1 units in the Faculty of Science. The sessions are designed to create a comfortable and productive learning environment, to maximize your understanding of the subject content, as well as introduce useful study tools and techniques which will be valuable throughout your degree.



Why you should come to PAL

PAL is not compulsory, although research shows that students who attend regularly get significantly higher grades (Dancer et al. 2014, Studies in Higher Education).

PAL sessions are facilitated by 'PAL leaders.' PAL leaders are current students who have successfully completed the unit before, and have been formally trained on how to mediate PAL sessions to ensure you get the most out of the program. PAL leaders are NOT tutors, so they won’t re-teach content to you. Instead, the PAL leaders will mediate your group study session so that you learn how to work effectively in a group, and have a productive and rewarding study session.

PAL sessions aim to address both unit content (what to learn) as well as study skills (how to learn). PAL is also a great way to meet people within your course.

Testimonials from PAL participants

"The enthusiasm and intelligence of the leader was inspirational. Reminds you learning is fun and not really a chore"

"It was helpful to hear other people's tips for study techniques"

"If I wasn't sure about something someone else knew it. We helped each other and this helped me learn a lot"

"PAL was the most efficient way for me to learn the main aspects of the topic as well as clarify key concepts"

"10/10 would recommend!!"

"The best thing about PAL was being able to talk with a student who has been through the unit and is able to give us their perspective on it"

"A great interactive way to review subject material. It helped me consolidate what I had learned"

"I was given really useful tools for revision"

PAL-associated units

Semester 1

  • ANHB1101
  • BIOL1130
  • CHEM1001
  • CHEM1002
  • CHEM1003
  • EART1105
  • PSYC1101
  • SCOM1101
  • SSEH1101

Semester 2

  • ANHB1102
  • BIOL1131
  • CHEM1001
  • CHEM1002
  • CHEM1004
  • EART1104
  • PSYC1102
  • SCIE1106
  • SSEH1102

How to enrol in PAL

If you are studying a PAL-participating unit, you will automatically be enrolled in ‘PAL’ on the LMS. You can register for a weekly PAL session via this LMS unit.

PAL sessions are scheduled to suit the unit timetable, but also depend on the availability of PAL leaders.

The number of PAL sessions offered each week depends on the number of students in the unit, so some subjects will have up to ten PAL sessions to choose from whereas others will only have one or two.

Registration is available from week 2 of semester, and PAL sessions commence in week 3.

Frequently asked questions

What am I expected to do in a PAL session?

PAL sessions are not tutorials, and the PAL leader is not a tutor. The role of the PAL leader is to help you develop essential study techniques, which means guiding you to find the answers you seek, rather than just giving you the answers directly.

It is important that you don’t expect your PAL leader to ‘re-teach’ the unit to you; that’s what your lecturers and tutors are for. PAL is a collaborative learning experience between you and your peers.

The focus of each session is determined by the needs of the group, so the PAL leader will structure a PAL session based on your requests. Therefore, you should come to PAL knowing what you want to study that day.

It’s also important to understand that PAL is not a substitute for attending lectures, lab sessions and tutorials; it is voluntary and supplementary.

The PAL group I want to join is already full. Can I come anyway?

Yes! There are often spare seats in a PAL session even if it appears to be full on the LMS sign-up sheet. Although, if too many students attend, preference will be given to those who enrolled online, so it’s best to join your preferred group via the LMS to guarantee your seat. The PAL leader will let you know if there is room for you on the day.

You can also un-enrol from a PAL group online and join another if you change your mind.

Can I start coming to PAL part-way through the semester?

It's never too late to start coming to PAL. You can begin attending in any week of semester, although the benefits of PAL is greatest for students who attend regularly, so we recommend you start coming to PAL from week 3.

Apply to be a PAL leader

Being a PAL leader is a rewarding experience, and looks great on your resume.

By being a PAL leader, you can deepen your understanding of the subject material, improve your communication skills, network more closely with the faculty, and enhance your leadership and management skills.

The role of the PAL leader is to facilitate discussion and active learning, not to re-teach lecture material. PAL leaders create an environment where students are relaxed, can make friends and feel comfortable asking questions. Leaders encourage students to use all available recommended teaching and learning resources, and they motivate students to study and keep up with content on a weekly basis.

The PAL leader position is a part-voluntary, part-paid position. PAL leaders are subsidised for the time spent preparing for PAL sessions with voluntary hours which appear on their supplementary student record on StudentConnect, and are paid at Level 03 Step 01 for delivery of PAL sessions.

To be eligible for a position as PAL leader you must have achieved at least a Distinction grade for the unit you would like to be a PAL leader for. It is also preferable that you have participated in PAL yourself, and you will need to display an understanding and appreciation for the purpose of the PAL program.

Applications for PAL study group leaders are now open. Complete the online form.