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Ulster Melanie Giles Laura ONeill School of Psychology Joan Condell School of Computing & Intelligent Systems Amanda Zacharopoulou School of Law.

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Presentation on theme: "Ulster Melanie Giles Laura ONeill School of Psychology Joan Condell School of Computing & Intelligent Systems Amanda Zacharopoulou School of Law."— Presentation transcript:

1 PASS @ Ulster Melanie Giles Laura ONeill School of Psychology Joan Condell School of Computing & Intelligent Systems Amanda Zacharopoulou School of Law

2 What is PASS? PASS stands for Peer Assisted Study Sessions and is a scheme designed to help lower year students with some of the trickier aspects of their course and to assist them with the transition to university. Specifically, its purpose is to support the student experience through collaborative discussion and involves higher year students (PASS leaders) working in pairs to facilitate regular study groups with lower year students within the context of their discipline.

3 Its main features: PASS is student led in that participants set the agenda PASS is about exploratory discussion, not being told the answers PASS is an active process and involves learning by doing PASS is confidential and is therefore a safe place to admit not understanding PASS is not a replacement for lectures – it is there to back them up PASS is informal, friendly and hopefully FUN!

4 PASS is not designed to: Reduce staff-student contact but provides additional opportunities for students to develop relationships with each other and with staff. Target weak students but offers academic support to all students regardless of ability. Provide a forum for students to complain but delivers structured, organized and purposeful sessions designed to help students learn effectively. Use students as teachers but trains students to facilitate group discussion, to redirect questions and to refer students to the most appropriate place for help.

5 Why PASS @ Ulster? Improve academic performance and increase retention Aid the transition process by allowing students to build supportive networks Improve students relationships with each other and with staff – foster a greater sense of community and belonging Enhance the quality of the student learning experience Enhance employability skills – raise aspirations and personal development of PASS leaders Engender enthusiasm and enhance the reputation of our disciplines

6 Teaching & Learning Strategy Mission: to provide excellent learning opportunities which are student centred and client focussed. Strategic Aim: to enhance the quality of the student learning experience. Key supporting objective: to provide opportunities for (peer) supplemental instruction targeted at high-risk modules and/or courses, not high risk students.

7 Pilot Projects School of Law (Faculty of Social Sciences, Jordanstown): Introduction to Law (pre-requisite for all other law modules undertaken) – approx. 120 students involving 14 PASS leaders School of Psychology (Faculty of Life & Health Sciences, Coleraine): Introduction to Psychology - approx. 120 students involving 14 PASS leaders School of Computing and Intelligent Systems (Maths) (Faculty of Computing & Engineering, Magee) – approx. 20 students involving 4 PASS leaders

8 How does it operate? A compulsory one-day training course followed by two discipline specific workshops for leaders. Working in pairs, leaders facilitate weekly study sessions with groups of 10 to 15 students for one hour. Sessions are timetabled and generally targeted at difficult modules. Sessions are student led. Focus on group facilitation techniques and associated activities during training provides leaders with the skills necessary to empower students to identify topics for discussion. Sessions are monitored closely by the SI Supervisors. Feedback is provided during weekly debrief sessions. Involvement is accredited through the CPPD framework.

9 How does it operate? The Certificate of Personal and Professional Development: Students will be expected to enrol on two specific modules and will engage in a range of activities (e.g. reflective diary, review of the PASS process, portfolio of session plans) designed to formally assess a range of outcomes some of which are specific to the process (e.g. their ability to plan, deliver and evaluate a PASS session; apply relevant learning strategies to enhance learning; employ a range of collaborative learning techniques to facilitate group discussion) and others which are more generic (e.g. their ability to communicate effectively, manage time, work as part of a team, reflect on personal development).

10 How do students benefit? PASS offers academic support to all students regardless of ability and makes efficient use of study time. Sessions are designed to be proactive and participatory rather than reactive and passive and provide students with an opportunity to practice their subject in private, make mistakes and build up confidence. Research has shown that students who participate in PASS achieve higher marks and learn effective transferable study skills. PASS also provides an opportunity for students to develop relationships with other students and with staff and promotes assimilation into the campus culture.

11 How do leaders benefit? PASS provides the leaders with the opportunity to develop a range of skills including group and team leadership, communication skills and self confidence PASS allows for the revision of first year material which provides an invaluable underpinning for second year and beyond PASS gives students greater contact with university staff PASS enhances employability skills and as such is useful for placements, CVs, jobs and generally demonstrating a wider involvement in university life

12 How does the Institution benefit? PASS targets difficult courses PASS provides practical support to staff and students PASS helps improve student performance PASS helps develop an effective and successful learning community PASS decreases dropout rates and aids retention

13 Evaluating PASS Our findings suggest that PASS is serving to: Enhance academic performance by providing opportunities for students to clarify their learning Going to PASS means we get a chance to look over our notes and gain a better understanding of what has been taught in lectures. Hopefully that will pay off when we get our results




17 Evaluating PASS Findings also suggest that: PASS is aiding the transition process by allowing students to build supportive networks: I wouldnt have made some of my friends if it wasnt for PASS. Its good because you have time when you can talk openly to each other about the course and our work because we wouldnt do it any other time

18 Evaluating PASS It sort of helps you make friends. You know at the start like people were really off and didnt really talk to one another and then getting to know a small group at least and then talking out loud. There was one girl in our group who at the beginning was really shy and now she is bubbly and chattering away all the time and it is because it came out when we were in our PASS classes really. And then it helps with knowing what is going on and how you are doing and if you are stuck with anything.

19 Evaluating PASS We are now seeking to prove that PASS also serves to promote: The development of skills and attributes that will strengthen employability particularly amongst its leaders Student engagement but we do need to more fully explore students motivations to engage with the learning environment and to identify the reasons why some students are reluctant to expend the quality of effort that is required.

20 What have We Achieved? Appointment and continued involvement of Honorary Fellow (Marcia Ody) Establishment of the University PASS working group Staff enthusiasts completed the training requirements for the Supplemental Instruction Supervisor at the University of Manchester and becoming a part of the wider PASS community Extension of PASS to other disciplines Designed a comprehensive 2-day training programme for PASS leaders Trained 40+ students beginning in January 2010 across 4 disciplines, including Economics in January 2011

21 What Have We Achieved? Secured University funding for a placement student in 10/11 and again for 11/12 to help with the day to day running of projects and in the preparation of materials to support the initiative Secured University funding in 10/11 and again in 11/12 to support evaluation and have obtained further funding from the HEA Law subject centre and the HEA Learning & Teaching Enhancement Fund for Northern Ireland Approval to host HEA funded national seminar on PASS in June 2011 Attended and presented at numerous conferences Approval to accredit the training of PASS leaders within the Certificate of Personal & Professional Development


23 Implementing PASS What next? Exploring PASS Talk with existing schemes with a view to implement in 2012/2013 Discuss with course team, consider presentation, identify colleagues to work with Identify potential module

24 Implementing PASS Planning for Introduction Identify potential leaders, employ the help of university placement student, DVD and other promotional materials Liaise with staff enthusiasts to organise training Identify an appropriate slot in the timetable Book rooms Engage students at induction using various promotional materials

25 Implementing PASS Day to Day Logistics Monitor and observe sessions Facilitate debriefs Collect attendance sheets Monitor progress in CPPD modules Review and Evaluation Measure impact against initial aims

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