PALS (Peer Assisted Learning) at QMU

PALS (Peer Assisted Learning) operates in several different subject areas at QMU. We do sessions in all programmes in the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management (ASSaM) and for BSc Paramedic Science in the Health School. This year (2022/23) we are also introducing PALS into Physiotherapy.

If you are studying one of these subject areas there will be a PALS Session for you:

- BA (Hons) Business Management
- BA (Hons) Events & Festival Management
- BA (Hons) International Hospitality & Tourism Management
- BSc (Hons) Psychology
- BSc (Hons) Psychology and Sociology
- BSc (Hons) Public Sociology
- BA (Hons) Drama
- BA (Hons) Theatre & Film
- BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) 
- BA (Hons) Education Studies
- BA (Hons) Film & Media
- BA (Hons) Media & Communications
- BA (Hons) PR Marketing Communications

- BSc Paramedic Science

- BSc Physiotherapy

 

What is PALS?

PALS Sessions are student led learning sessions. They are a relaxed, fun and informal way to receive support for your learning at QMU. You can use a session either to help you understand something you were struggling with, or perhaps to consolidate and develop the learning you have already completed. We also run revision sessions so you can brush up on your knowledge in the run-up to your exams.

The students who run them are known as PALS Leaders and they have all been where you are now and want to support you by sharing their experience.

PALS sessions run on a regular basis throughout term, and you will be notified by email, HUB announcements and your lecturers about upcoming sessions. Some sessions are also advertised on Student Central.

The sessions are not mandatory – some people just pop along to a session when they have a particular area of study they are struggling with, while others attend every session because they appreciate the extra support and the experience of the PALS Leaders.

How does PALS work?

Our fabulous team of PALS Leaders are fully trained volunteers from 2nd year and above. The PALS Coordinator trains and supports the Leaders to design, develop and run additional learning sessions for students in the years below them. These sessions are targeted at modules which have low pass marks and will follow the curriculum closely. So, once you have attended the lecture, and then the seminar, you can come along to the PALS Session which will help you think through the issues raised, and the theories you need to understand.

It’s important to note that our PALS Leaders are trained not to give you the answer. They are there to help you think through the problem and suggest ways to think about the topic. They may have handy hints and tips they can share, but they want to help you get to the answer yourself so don’t expect them to tell you exactly what to do!

What are the benefits of PALS?

PALS runs in over 1500 universities in 29 countries, so the impact of PALS has been well researched. Data gathered by the European Centre for PALS, the “Nationellt Centrum for SI” at Lund University in Sweden, consistently demonstrates that students who attend PALS sessions achieve higher grades than those who do not, and retention is higher amongst attendees.

This is also true at QMU – our internal analysis of results shows us that students who attend PALS session are achieving better marks than those who do not attend. Here is a snapshot of some of our impressive results:

In addition, PALS is supporting retention. This means that if you attend a session you are less likely to drop out.

Attending a PALS session gives you opportunities to meet new people and develop your social network.

After attending some sessions, you may want to consider being a Leader and continue to benefit from the personal development opportunities it offers.

What are the requirements of a PALS Leader?

First and foremost – you must have completed the module yourself! You can’t lead a session if you have not passed the module. And we do ask that our Leaders only run sessions on module that they passed.

You will need to be well organised with good time management skills. In order to run a PALS Session you will need to allow about 3 hours – there is the hour of delivery and a couple of hours to design and develop the session – this includes time with the PALS Coordinator who is there for you to run ideas by or practice with. The PALS Coordinator is available for a debrief with you as well if you would find that useful.

You should also be approachable and empathetic as you may encounter students in your session who are anxious and struggling. It’s important that you can be supportive and understanding - remember you might have felt like this too once!

You must also commit to attending the training we do with PALS Leaders. This will include an initial half day session, and some shorter follow up sessions as you seek to develop and improve your delivery skills. We offer Leaders the opportunity to be observed, so you can get some feedback on your style if you want it (but you don’t have to!). We would work with you to carefully select the best session to do this in. And finally, we have a debrief meeting at the end of each semester to review how PALS has gone and discuss issues or improvements to be made. We want you – our Leaders – to be at the heart of QMU PALS!

It's important to know that all PALS Sessions are co-delivered so you will never be asked to deliver a session on your own. We also try our best to only allocate a session to you once a fortnight.

What do I gain from being a PALS Leader?

Becoming a PALS Leader is personally rewarding and beneficial in terms of your professional development. It’s a great addition to your CV, and many of our Student Leaders have told us it has helped them to get a job after they finish at QMU.

Being a PALS Leader can help improve your confidence and public speaking skills, and you will learn how to design and deliver workshops effectively. In doing this you will gain many transferable skills which can be put to good use elsewhere!

Our PALS Leaders have used their experiences to move onto employment and further study. It is particularly useful if you are considering further study to become a teacher.

Our Leaders tell us it is also a great way to revise and consolidate knowledge in modules they may not have looked at since they were in 1st, 2nd or 3rd year themselves.

Not only will you get to meet lots of other students you may not normally see, and help develop the learning community in your subject area, but our PALS Leaders are also able to develop their relationships with academic staff and contribute to and influence how modules can be improved in future.

We are often able to offer you other development opportunities not available to other students if you are a PALS Leader:

  • Some of our Leaders have attended (all expenses paid!) national PALS Conferences: they have developed Poster Presentations for these, and delivered Presentations. These are great networking opportunities and you can bring new ideas back to QMU.
  • We also offer numerous paid opportunities to our PALS Leaders to run PALS sessions for other areas of student life including on the Summer Resit Programme run by ELS; in the Coming from College induction; recorded sessions for our TNEP (Trans National Education Partner) students doing QMU degrees at overseas institutes; and for our International students based in Edinburgh.
  • PALS leaders often contribute to the evaluation of PALS, which provides valuable research experience for those wishing to pursue PG study.
  • All PALS leaders are eligible for a Principal's Award, which is presented at a ceremony at the end of the academic year where we celebrate all the great work the PALS leaders have been involved with. 

Attending conferences as a PALS Leader

As a PALS leader you have the opportunity to attend Peer Assisted Learning conferences organised by the European Centre for SI-PASS. In 2019, some of our leaders attended an in-person conference at Loughborough University and in 2020 some leaders attended a virtual leaders festival hosted by the University of Brighton. Usually, these events take place towards the end of November each year.

More of our leaders have attended and presented at virtual conferences in 2021/22 and we are looking forward to being able to attend in-person conferences again in the near future. 

Attending conferences is a good opportunity to meet new people, learn more about how you can engage and support students in sessions, share your own experience of PALS as well as to represent QMU at external events.

In the past, several of our PALS leaders have presented at the Leader’s conferences both in the form of poster presentations and talks. 

Do the PALS Leaders talk to the lecturers?

You will need to be confident in your subject knowledge so that you can run a PALS Session, so you will need to remember some of it! But our Leaders tell us that running a PALS Session is a great way to refresh and revise your own knowledge. So don’t worry if you don’t remember everything.

Leaders are usually added to the module Hub area for the modules they are leading sessions on meaning that they can go over the things they don’t remember so well. Also, there is always time put aside to prepare for sessions, so you can work with your co-leader to make sure that you know what you are going to cover in the session and double check anything you are not 100% sure about.

But, remember, you are not teaching – that's the lecturer’s job! You are just helping students understand what they have already been taught.

Do you need to remember what you learnt in the module to lead a PALS session?

You will need to be confident in your subject knowledge so that you can run a PALS Session, so you will need to remember some of it! But our Leaders tell us that running a PALS Session is a great way to refresh and revise your own knowledge. So don’t worry if you don’t remember everything.

Leaders are usually added to the module Hub area for the modules they are leading sessions on meaning that they can go over the things they don’t remember so well. Also, there is always time put aside to prepare for sessions, so you can work with your co-leader to make sure that you know what you are going to cover in the session and double check anything you are not 100% sure about.

But, remember, you are not teaching – that's the lecturer’s job! You are just helping students understand what they have already been taught.

Want to get involved?

If you would like to attend a session, contact us or keep an eye out for information in your QMU inbox/HUB page about sessions coming up and join us! You will also find information about upcoming sessions on Student Central.

If you would like to be a Leader, please contact us – we look forward to welcoming you to the PALS Team!

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