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Frequently asked questions about the PAL program

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Leaders are students who plan and run collaborative group study sessions for targeted courses, which they have already passed with a B+ or better. 

PAL is based on the international model of Supplemental Instruction (SI), a non-remedial approach to student engagement offered to all students enrolled in the respective course. PAL study sessions are voluntary for participants and are not graded. Sessions utilize collaborative learning in low-stress environments to help students gain broader contextual understanding of course material and develop generalizable study skills.

PAL Leaders are assigned to work with targeted classes, particularly those with traditionally high DFW rates. If you would like your class to be considered for the PAL program, please contact the PAL program coordinator and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Pauline Entin.

If your course is included in PAL, you are encouraged to recommend potential PAL Leaders. The program coordinator will interview potential PAL Leaders and together you will select a Leader for your class.

PAL study sessions are scheduled by first determining the PAL Leader’s schedule availability. The program coordinator will then ask faculty partners to share a poll with their class to determine preferences for timing. Based on those responses, study sessions will be scheduled at the most popular times.

After study sessions are scheduled, the program coordinator will reserve classroom spaces and will report back the location and times for each study session.

PAL Leaders are expected to hold 2 to 3 one-hour study sessions per week. If three sessions are offered, one may be online/remote.

No. A Teaching Assistant is expected to assist with the teaching and maintenance of a course, whereas a PAL Leader is meant to facilitate study sessions with their peers.

No. Where a tutor offers one-on-one, conversational support, PAL Leaders guide groups of students through low-stakes study sessions. PALs are trained to identify when a student would benefit from tutoring support, and recommend students to the appropriate campus resource.

PAL Leaders may begin work only after being officially hired through the university. They legally cannot work before this approval, so we appreciate your patience with this process. PAL Leaders will reach out to their faculty partners and the program coordinator when they receive their approvals.

PAL Leaders are hired through the department. Funding for the PAL Leader is provided by the program. Department Chairs or their admin should submit hiring forms with the proper speedtype, hiring dates, and pay rates, which will be provided each semester by the program coordinator.

No. PAL Leaders are there for student support, rather than instructor support. Work that would typically be performed by an instructor or teaching assistant should not be performed by a PAL Leader.

Yes. Our general rule is that any work that does not require prep time to complete is perfectly fine.

We ask faculty partners to touch base with their PAL Leaders on a weekly basis. The modality and duration of those meetings is relative to the needs of the respective PAL Leader/faculty partner pairing.

We do not think this is likely, but if you have a concern, please contact the program coordinator right away.

The PAL Program wants to be mindful of the labor load this program asks of its instructors, and so we just ask that you situate your PAL with your myCourses site, hold your weekly meetings with your PAL Leader, and provide guidance on the content that you would like covered in the study sessions.

It is a common practice with PAL/SI Programs to not share attendance records with faculty partners, because PAL study sessions are designed to be completely voluntary.

While we strongly encourage you to recommend the PAL program vigorously, early and often, we ask that you please not make sessions mandatory.

We ask that you please not give extra credit for equity’s sake for students who may not have the schedule availability to attend sessions.

Ideally, yes. However, we understand that class attendance is determined by both you and the PAL Leader at the start of each semester. We only require that you are on the same page and let the program coordinator know about the plan.

You can follow the template provided by the program coordinator at the beginning of the semester. (We promise, it’s not hard!)

At the start of each semester, the program coordinator will contact CITS and request myCourses access for each PAL Leader. If you are having an issue after this request is made, please contact CITS.

PAL Leaders will be able to update their weekly agenda after receiving access to myCourses. They are required to complete FERPA training, and are trained in best practices for being given the responsibilities to access myCourses.

Please contact the program coordinator if you have any questions!

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