Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)
Since the 1990s, UK universities have increasingly been embedding Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) to enhance the student academic experience. In general, these schemes recruit second and third year students (PAL leaders) to lead small groups of first year students through areas of the curriculum in more depth than lectures allow for, and to explore difficult concepts together.

In the academic year 2016/17 the University of Winchester is running PAL schemes on three programmes, with 29 second and third year students leading weekly PAL sessions for their first year peers. Student participants are chosen through a selection process, which is carried out by the faculty.

All successful PAL leaders are then expected to attend training sessions. These sessions look at agenda setting and how to uncover potential problems with the learning and teaching programme. Second and third year students are trained to facilitate the learning and teaching of programme content and academic skills.

Once trained, a learning lunch workshop will explore the impact the scheme has had on students’ learning, with second and third year PAL leaders attending to talk about their experiences so far.

For more information, contact Paula Green – PAL Lead

What does the Peer Assisted Learning scheme entail?

The aim of the scheme is to facilitate the learning and teaching of programme content and academic skills, which are essential when completing the course.

What are the motivations behind the scheme?

PAL leaders receive a £600 bursary and gain recognition towards a Higher Education Accreditation Report (HEAR). Participants also gain transferable skills in the planning, preparation and delivery of course materials.

What support do you get from the University?

All PAL leaders are chosen by the programme, and are required to participate in training courses which outline how to plan a session. This is known as an agenda.

Key benefits to the student

Evaluation findings have highlighted a number of benefits for both first year students participating in PAL sessions and the PAL leaders themselves.

In particular, participants have identified benefits including an improved understanding of course content and how to succeed academically; a better understanding of the learning outcomes of modules; increased academic confidence and assistance with preparing for assignments.

PAL leaders have also highlighted benefits, including developing or improving communication, listening, leadership and problem-solving skills; increasing confidence and reinforcing previous learning.

Key benefits to the University

PAL offers significant benefits for the University through its focus on enhancing student engagement and increasing attainment and retention.

In an increasingly competitive HE environment, PAL is an attractive scheme for potential students, providing both additional learning support and social opportunities.

It reflects our commitment to Winchester’s institutional values, particularly ‘diversity’, ‘individuals matter’ and ‘creativity’, and reflects our leading edge student engagement work.

Key benefits to the sector

PAL provides a space for students to come together to discuss their learning and deepen their understanding of challenging concepts and understanding.

For the sector, this offers benefits both in terms of academic development and the development of a sense of community and belonging amongst students.

PAL also provides an efficient feedback loop between first years, leaders and programme staff.