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PAL Explained

PAL fosters cross-year support between students on the same course. It is run for students and by students to provide an informal, yet structured opportunity for new students to learn from those who have been there before them.

Peer Assisted Learning

What is PAL?

PAL is Peer Assisted Learning. More than 85% of UK universities run some kind of peer to peer scheme, so the idea is not new, and it is well established both in the UK and overseas.

Many students coming to university can find the transition from home/school/college daunting or difficult and we want to make this as smooth as possible to ensure new students have a good experience.

PAL is intended to help new students:

  • Understand what being a University of Bedfordshire student is really like
  • Adjust quickly to university life
  • Make friends and connections
  • Create an informal learning community
  • Acquire a clear view of the expectations of their course
  • Improve their study skills/adjust their study habits to meet the requirements of higher education
  • Enhance their understanding of the subject matter of their course through collaborative group discussion
  • Prepare better for assessed work and exams

Who runs PAL?

Staff are often not the best people, particularly in the early days of life at university, to give the advice and answers to problems that new students often have.The best people to do this are those who have been there - and that means students!

The key to PAL is empathy and informality, and students who know the ropes are often better placed to give the insider knowledge about life at University of Bedfordshire than anyone else.

PAL Leaders get regular support from a tutor (whom we call Academic Course Contacts or ACCs) to guide and advise on possible PAL activities and topics to discuss. PAL Leaders also get training support throughout the year, as well as university certificates to evidence to employers the skills they've developed, and the opportunity to gain accreditation as Associate Fellows of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

How does PAL work?

The PAL scheme at University of Bedfordshire is based upon 2nd/3rd year students (PAL Leaders) working in pairs or trios, to facilitate friendly, weekly PAL sessions with first year students.

  • Timetabled sessions starting in the first week of Semester 1
  • 1 hour a week facilitated by pairs or trios of PAL Leaders
  • PAL runs in Semesters 1 & 2
  • Linked to a 1st year core unit
  • 1st year students and PAL Leaders can propose session content and direction
  • PAL is supportive, informal and fun

What happens in a PAL session?

PAL is about PAL Leaders facilitating, not teaching. Our PAL Leaders help first year students to help themselves, give them support and advice, and signpost to places where they can get help. Our PAL Leaders are passing on their own knowledge and information. Most importantly, they set the climate for discussions within a relaxed and informal student-to-student atmosphere.

PAL is a place where all students can dictate the content of a session, can steer sessions towards topics that they really want to cover, and can participate in a relaxed, safe environment away from tutors and lecturers.

Sessions at the start are usually very much focused on settling in and getting oriented around the campus, whilst later sessions are more linked to things that first year students have covered in lectures or workshops.

PAL doesn't just help students, it helps lecturers too by:

  • Minimising the number of 'minor' enquiries from first year students
  • Increasing student support and a sense of inclusion
  • Helping students be better prepared for classes
  • Helping students keep up with course material
  • Helping create more independent learners
  • Training students in the basics of group work
  • Obtaining vital feedback on how course content is being received by Level 4 students
  • Providing committed students who can help promote the university and meet with internal or external reviewers
Bedfordshire University

PAL Explained