What is PAL?:
- Weekly study sessions throughout the academic semester for students in participating courses.
- Rooted in cooperative learning theory.
- Goals are to improve academic performance and increase persistence to graduation.
- Research has shown that collaborative learning strategies have a positive impact on both.
- A comprehensive understanding of the PAL model, published by David Arendale, can be found in the Journal of Higher Education Vol 3, No 2 (2014)
How does PAL work?:
- PAL facilitators use small group/pair work to encourage students to verbalize and expand on their thinking and to share it with the larger class.
- Facilitators create activities to help students break down complex issues into smaller parts. They prepare practice sheets of carefully selected problems that reflect the content of the week's lectures. Homework is not done during PAL.
- During PAL, facilitators pose challenging questions to connect course concepts, encourage students to consult their notes or textbooks for clarification, redirect questions back to the group, model study skills, and provide opportunities for students to share study strategies, predict exam questions, and prepare answers to questions from lectures.
- PAL is multi-sensory; students hear, see, say, and do the content of the course, which helps embed the course material in long-term memory.
- Participating in PAL is an opportunity to practice working through the material to gain understanding, all in a relaxed and supportive environment.
- Research shows that students who attend PAL 10 or more times outperform those who do not attend or attend fewer PAL sessions.
- PAL is structured so students see their peers as resources for their own learning.
- Facilitated by undergraduate students who have taken the course, done well, and have completed the PAL training.
- PAL facilitators do not teach; they lead group learning sessions to engage students in discussions/activities that promote a deeper understanding of course concepts.
- Collaborative learning is integral to PAL. Learning theory suggests that students who collaborate with their peers and take an active approach to their learning not only earn higher grades, but also have a stronger ground up understanding of course material (Arendale, 2005).
PAL Study published in peer-reviewed journal
view press release; Oct 2009
More information about Peer-Learning Groups - website maintained by Dr. David Arendale, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota