PASS @ Ulster Amanda Zacharopoulou School of Law Melanie Giles Cathy Carson Stephanie Boyle Deirbhile McKay School of Psychology Joan Condell School of Computing & Intelligent Systems
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.
Chinese Proverb Tell me and I forget Show me and I remember Involve me and I understand
How does it operate? There are 3 levels of student involvement: • PASS Placement Students (DPP) – help coordinate and develop the scheme • PASS Leaders (normally year two) – help facilitate study sessions • PASS Participants (normally year one)
How does it operate? • A compulsory one-day training course followed by two discipline specific workshops for PASS 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.
How does it operate? The Certificate of Personal and Professional Development: Students will be expected to enrol on two specific modules and will be formally assessed on a range of outcomes some of which will be 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 other more generic skills (e.g. their ability to communicate effectively, manage time, work as part of a team, reflect on personal development).
Evaluating PASS Our findings suggest that PASS is indeed serving to: • Enhance academic performance by providing opportunities for students to clarify their learning • Aid the transition process by allowing students to build supportive networks • Create an effective learning community
Evaluating PASS 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’ I wouldn’t have made some of my friends if it wasn’t for PASS’. Its good because you have time when you can talk openly to each other about the course and our work because we wouldn’t do it any other time’
Further Developments • Employability Project: Seeking to show that PASS also serves to promote the development of skills and attributes that will strengthen employability particularly amongst its leaders. • Problem-Based Learning Project: Seeking to show that student engagement can be enhanced if we provide more structure to our PASS sessions.
PASS @ Ulster Employability Programme
What is the Employability Programme? • The employability programme is delivered to PASS Leaders during the weekly de-brief sessions in order to increase their employability skills. • The content and structure of these sessions has been designed by students and consists of a series of skill-building activities (games and practical exercises) focused on those facets of employability that are of direct relevance to the PASS experience.
The Purpose – Rewarding Students • This programme was designed to help students articulate the skills they have gained during their time as a PASS leader: to make the implicit more explicit. • The programme was also created to formally reward PASS leaders for their participation in the PASS programme: the two CPPD modules which are also completed as part of this process are now a recognised component of the Ulster Edge Award.
It aims to enhance a range of skills… • Reflection • Time Management • Listening Skills • Teamwork and Communication • Leadership • Interpersonal Communication • Creative Thinking • Presentation Skills PASS Leaders in De-Brief Session
Student’s Input • DPP students help to co-ordinate the employability programme • DPP students have developed many of the activities used within the programme. • DPP students run the employability sessions (during PASS debrief sessions) • DPP students are helping to evaluate the programme • PASS Leaders views are sought at all stages of the evaluation process
A Working Example… Activity One – LEADERSHIP SKILLS • Objective: To highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a good leader. • Break the students into groups of 3-5 people. Choose a leader in each group and whisper a letter in their ear. The leader must get his or her group to form that shape without speaking or pulling people into position. The leader may only gesture or touch. If there is time, rotate until everyone has had a chance to be a leader.
Evaluation • An evaluation is currently underway to assess the value of PASS in increasing PASS Leaders employability skills. • The evaluation involves both quantitative and qualitative methods. • It compares current PASS Leaders with non-PASS Leaders and is focused specifically on their perceived employability traits. • Early indications suggest that the programme is having a positive effect.
Summary of Session • The leaders facilitated the session – they did not dominate! • It was structured (timing, activities and content) • It was about exploratory discussion, not being told the answers • It was interactive and participative learning • Energy booster activities used throughout session • It was ‘serious’ fun!