PAL/PASS – Peer Assisted Learning and Peer Assisted Study Sessions

PAL/PASS – Peer Assisted Learning and Peer Assisted Study Sessions


The PAL/PASS – Peer Assisted Learning and Peer Assisted Study Sessions Policy establishes the principles underpinning Peer  Assisted Learning (PAL) and Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) at  Macquarie University. The Procedure provides further information on the roles and responsibilities for the operation of PAL/PASS and is supported by the Schedule which illustrates current PAL/PASS activities.



To document the principles underpinning Peer  Assisted Learning (PAL) and Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) (see footnote 1) at  Macquarie University.


Macquarie University is committed to supporting  students to achieve their full potential throughout the duration of their study  program as identified in the University’s Strategic Plan, Our University: A Framing of Futures, and the Learning and Teaching Strategic Framework.

At Macquarie University, PAL and PASS are acronyms  that are used synonymously for support initiatives in which more experienced  students run weekly sessions / workshops for their peers through a  collaborative study experience to aid learning and academic transition. The  focus is primarily on educational support for particular units of study, rather  than pastoral care which many Faculties address via Mentoring schemes.

Generally, participation in PAL/PASS workshops:

  1. provides students  with opportunities to network and build relationships with other students;
  2. builds  self-confidence by enabling students to review and question course material (in  particular difficult or challenging concepts) in a supportive environment;
  3. assists students  to develop study techniques, improve communication skills, develop group  interaction skills; and
  4. improves academic  performance.

Research (see footnote 2) shows that PASS can assist in improving student retention and satisfaction.  Students who attend PASS consistently produce higher results than those who do  not attend.

Units considered most appropriate for PAL/PASS  generally have large enrolments and contain content that students may find  difficult. To achieve maximum impact, the following selection criteria are  suggested. Units should:

  1. be core units  with large student enrolments, particularly of commencing students;
  2. have high failure  or non-completion rates;
  3. be seen as  historically difficult.

To date, PAL/PASS offerings at Macquarie have  been offered in face-to-face settings; however, there may be scope to expand  the offering to online (see footnote 3) communities.

3     SCOPE

This Policy applies to all Faculties,  Departments, Offices and students involved in PAL/PASS as a program (study  selection) coordinator, leader or workshop participant. Workshop leaders and  participants can be based at either the North Ryde or Sydney City campus.

The Macquarie University International College (MUIC) is exempt from the provisions of this Policy.


Commonly defined terms are located in the  University Glossary.


The University will:

Offer annual PAL or PASS programming in all Faculties (on campus and/or  online):

  • Faculties  determine the annual provisioning of funding to run PAL/PASS in alignment with  the requirements of the policy;
  • Associate Deans,  Learning and Teaching  (or  delegates) will, in collaboration with Unit Convenors and/or Program Directors,  prioritise areas of study for inclusion in PAL/PASS programming from across the  Faculty; and
  • Large first year  subjects with consistently high failure rates should be prioritised.

Ensure that PAL/PASS Provisioning follows set standards for student  recruitment, training, support, remuneration, reward and recognition:

  • Standard  selection criteria / eligibility. PAL/PASS Leaders:
    • must be current  Macquarie University students;
    • have previously  completed the nominated subject and achieved a grade of Distinction or better,  or demonstrated academic excellence in a comparable subject;
    • completed at  least 24 credit points;
    • maintained a GPA  of 3 or above (or equivalent as per new Assessment Policy);
    • be available for  training in PAL/PASS leadership, or have previously completed a minimum of 14  hours recognised training.
  • Note that each faculty may also determine additional eligibility and selection  criteria for PAL/PASS leaders, details of which are included in the Schedule.  Any exception to the eligibility criteria will require approval from the  relevant faculty Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching.
  • Standard  processes for disseminating student PAL/PASS leader and engagement  opportunities leveraging off existing communications platforms iLearn and CareerHub.
  • Consistent PALPASS  training:
    • PAL/PASS leader  training must be coordinated by each faculty by PAL/PASS accredited staff and  consist of at least 14 hours of training;
    • All leaders must  receive a certificate of training / participation.
  • Set remuneration  or academic credit for all PAL/PASS leaders:
    • Leader training  is un-paid. The accreditation itself is a valuable qualification that leaders  will have beyond the undergraduate experience;
    • Workshop  facilitation is set at a minimum casual rate of HEW 3.1. Leaders must complete  timesheets that are endorsed and submitted to payroll by nominated staff;
    • Academic credit  for conducting the workshops may be available as a PACE or related activity.
  • Comprehensive  support information (hard copy and online) for PAL/PASS leaders must be made  available including:
    • Key contact  information for identified Faculty and Office-based staff who can  support students in these roles, and intervene when necessary, and processes  for escalating issues;
    • Q&As that use  consistent language and terminology;
    • Available  wellbeing and related support services;
    • WH&S;
    • Relevant policy  details including the Macquarie University Student Code of Conduct and Ethics  Statement.

Ensure that PAL/PASS provisioning follows consistent workshop format  standards including:

  • A minimum of 5  and maximum of 20 students per subject, to be facilitated by one or two leaders  depending on the nature and requirements of the subject area.
  • Workshops will be  offered on the basis that:
    • all students  enrolled in a subject will be provided with the opportunity to participate in a  PAL/PASS workshop, if available
    • PAL/PASS is not a  compulsory requirement for undergraduate subjects (participation is voluntary)
    • a student may  attend at any time during the session (pending capacity of venues), and
    • there is no  charge for students to participate.

1. PAL/PASS is based on the SI (Supplemental Instruction) program developed in Kansas at the University of Missouri in 1973. It is now used in  more than 30 countries around the world and yearly more than a quarter of a  million students attend PAL/PASS Sessions. The University of Wollongong is the  National Centre for PASS in Australia. Iterations of PAL/PASS programming have established in all Faculties at Macquarie since 2011.

2. Paloyo, Rogan and Siminski (2016). The Causal Effects  of the Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) on Educational Outcomesand Discussion Paper; Dancer, D., Morrison, K.,  and Tarr,  G. (2014). Measuring the  effects of peer learning on students' academic achievement in first-year  business statistics. Studies in  Higher Education.

3. At Deakin University, CloudPASS sessions (at a set time each week) are  conducted in Blackboard Collaborate, a synchronous web conferencing platform  which has been specifically designed to maximise the potential for students to collaborate.



PAL/PASS - Peer Assisted Learning and Peer  Assisted Study Sessions Procedure / Schedule
Macquarie University Code of Conduct
Macquarie  University Ethics Statement
Casual Employment PolicyProcedure
Student Feedback on Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Policy
Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of  the Public
Students at Risk /  Academic Progression

8       NOTES

8.1Contact OfficerProject Manager, Office of the PVC L&T
8.2Implementation OfficerProject Manager, Office of the PVC L&T
8.3Approval Authority /    AuthoritiesAcademic Senate
8.4Date Approved26 July 2016
8.5Date of Commencement26 July 2016
8.6Date for ReviewJuly 2019
8.7Documents Superseded by    this PolicyPeer Assisted Learning Policy approved 4 September 2012
8.8Amendment History
9 April 2019 – Academic Senate approval to exempt MUIC from the provisions of this Policy (Resolution 19/27)
12 December 2018 - Update to MUIC staff position titles following management restructure.

Asset ID = 422764



To outline the roles and responsibilities for the operation of Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) and Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) at Macquarie University.

2     SCOPE

This Procedure applies to all Faculties, Departments, Offices and students involved in PAL/PASS. PAL/PASS activities can be based at either the North Ryde or Sydney City campus.

The Macquarie University International College (MUIC) is exempt from the provisions of this Procedure.


Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. Definitions specific to this Procedure are contained in the accompanying Policy.


This procedure requires actions by the following:

  • Executive Deans
  • Associate Deans, Learning and Teaching
  • Faculty PAL/PASS Coordinators
  • PAL/PASS Leaders
  • Convenors – Program and or Unit
Executive Deans
  • Consider annual Faculty PAL/PASS program recommendations made by Associate Deans Learning and Teaching (in consultation with relevant Faculty PAL/PASS Coordinator)
  • Approve and provide an annual budget for agreed implementation of PAL/PASS programming (on campus and/or online).
    • 100 level units with high fail rates may be prioritised.
    • Students who present as being ‘at risk’ may take priority places in PAL/PASS sessions over other students (if they are not already engaged).
Associate    Deans Learning and Teaching
  • In consultation with Program Directors / Program Managers and Unit Convenors, and relevant Heads of Department make recommendations to the Executive Dean for annual PAL/PASS programming
    • Include budget and program administration details.
    • Consider options for engaging students who present as being ‘at risk’ throughout sessions.
  • Obtain approval from the Faculty Executive Dean to coordinate agreed annual PAL/PASS programming.
  • Delegate PAL/PASS Coordination: roles, responsibilities and timelines.
  • Report to FLTC / MUIC Subcommittee of ASQC on annual review of PAL/PASS programming.
Faculty PAL/PASS
  • Determine Leader recruitment requirements for PAL/PASS based on subject enrolment numbers from the previous year and the anticipated number for the next session.
  • Advertise PAL/PASS Leader positions in consultation with relevant convenors via CareerHub and student online platforms.
  • Interview leader candidates.
  • Notify successful and unsuccessful candidates. Alert successful candidates of upcoming PAL/PASS training sessions (compulsory to progress in a Leader role unless already completed). Provide constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates
  • Organise offers of employment for successful candidates and finalise recruitment on-boarding process
  • Organise and conduct an on-campus training program for PAL/PASS Leaders:
  • Arrange for Accredited staff to be available to lead training;
  • Source appropriate room for the training to take place;
  • Set calendar dates and invite all participants;
  • Compile PAL/PASS Leader training materials and manual; and
  • Compile workshop administration materials (contact lists, AV, butchers paper etc).
  • Prepare the draft PAL/PASS timetable before the session begins and confirm details once leaders have been recruited (workshops to commence within the first three weeks of the session).
  • Schedule weekly workshops for a duration of one hour each – arrange necessary room bookings and access.
  • Arrange for promotion of PAL/PASS to be included in relevant iLearn subjects (via convenors), and liaise with Group Marketing to have programming promoted via the Student Portal.
  • Review the performance of each PAL/PASS leader and provide feedback.
  • Arrange for a program survey to be conducted with students, leaders and convenors to determine areas for improvement.
  • Conduct annual evaluation activities to determine impact of the programming and report to Associate Deans Learning and Teaching.
Group Marketing
  • Arrange for promotion of PAL/PASS opportunities / timetable on the Student Portal and on relevant social media platforms.
  • Apply for advertised PAL/PASS leader positions; and/or
  • Respond to PAL/PASS opportunities in enroled subjects
  • For maximum benefits, attend all weekly workshops
  • Participate in program surveys and review process
Student Leaders
  • If appointed as a Leader undertake the following duties:
    • participate in the associated training program (compulsory);
    • attend 100% of the unit lectures or listen on iLearn; and
    • take lecture notes, and become familiar with all unit material.
  • Unsuccessful candidates will receive formal feedback from PAL/PASS Coordinators
  • In consultation with PAL/PASS Coordinators:
    • Lead / facilitate at least two PAL/PASS workshops weekly
    • arrange weekly workshop resources;
    • maintain a register of all participants for evaluation purposes;
    • meet and participate in meetings with the PAL/PASS; Coordinator and convenor(s) as required, and in particular to escalate any issues that may arise such as low attendance, bullying, health matters; and
    • attend other team building and professional development sessions as required.
  • Participate in program surveys and review process
  • Proactively liaise with Faculty Associate Deans Learning and Teaching, Faculty PAL/PASS Coordinators and PAL/PASS Leaders
  • Upload PAL/PASS program information on iLearn
  • Participate in program surveys and review process



PAL/PASS - Peer Assisted Learning and Peer Assisted Study Sessions Policy / Schedule
Macquarie University Code of Conduct
Macquarie University Ethics Statement
Casual Employment PolicyProcedure
Student Feedback on Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Policy
Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of  the Public
Students at Risk /  Academic Progression

7      NOTES

7.1 Contact Officer Project Manager, Office of the PVC L&T
7.2 Implementation Officer Project Manager, Office of the PVC L&T
7.3 Approval Authority / Authorities  Academic Senate
7.4 Date Approved 26 July 2016
7.5 Date of Commencement 26 July 2016
7.6 Date for Review July 2019
7.7 Documents Superseded by this Procedure Peer Assisted Learning Procedure approved 4 September 2012
7.8 Amendment History
9 April 2019 – Academic Senate approval to exempt MUIC from the provisions of this Procedure (Resolution 19/27)
12 December 2018 - Update to MUIC staff position titles following management restructure.

Asset ID = 422764 Anchor


1       PURPOSE

Associated with the PAL/PASS Policy and  Procedure, this Schedule illustrates current PAL/PASS activities (Table 2.1) in  the context of other available learning support initiatives (Table 2.2) and student  service locations (Table 2.3).


Table 2.1 PAL/PASS

What it does
Scale basis
Faculties / Departments
Face to face
Unit specific    workshops are led by PAL / PASS Leaders who are students who have excelled in    those particular units.
From Week 3 – transition
Convenors &    qualified students:
All Faculties
MATH399 (P)
Faculty of Science    and Engineering
Faculty of Human    Sciences
Macquarie Business School
(PAL offerings    only)
Faculty of Arts
(S1 2016, TBC S2)
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences

Table 2.2 Other Learning Support initiatives

What it does
Scale basis
Students    familiarize themselves with teaching staff and the unit content before session    even starts.
Pre-session – transition
Convenors /    Faculty staff
Link to list of units.
Faculties, LIH
Be Successful
An iLearn unit to    help students to ‘BE Successful’ providing them with a range of helpful    resources and information: study and exam skills, peer programs, careers etc.
Professional    staff
First Step    Mentoring
Face to face
An academic to    student mentoring initiative.
PROPOSED: in 2017, a program with the Alumni Office will be    piloted for PG and UG students (in their penultimate / final year of study)    in MQBS.
1st year MQBS / MUIC students
Professional    staff
Lucy Mentoring
Face to face
A leadership    program for female students in MQBS.
2nd year female MQBS students
Professional    staff
Study Coaching
Face to face
1:1 coaching on    time management, study planning, increasing and maintaining motivation, and    beating procrastination.
1st year MQBS students
Professional    staff
Academic mentors
Face to face
Pilot 2016: An    academic to student mentoring initiative.
1st year FoHS students
Academic staff
An iLearn unit    for students to access a range of information to guide self-help.
UG Arts & MUIC
Professional    staff
Program and    Academic Advisers
Face to face    & online
Many ‘program’    enquiries can now be handled by all staff within student centers. Only when    queries are more complicated in nature are they referred to  academic advisers.
All students.
Professional and    academic staff
Faculties, the    College & Student Connect
Face to face    & online
Provision of    learning and teaching practice training and advice for new teachers /    dissemination of knowledge and skills to enable them to operate as effective    teachers.
Academic staff    and students (often PG) employed as tutors.
Professional and    academic staff
Faculties &    LIH
Macquarie    University Mentors
Face to face
A peer support    program that provides support and guidance to new students.
1st year - transition
Every session - OWeek
Orientation    Program Manager & qualified students.
Learning Skills    Workshops
Face to face
A series of    academic learning and language workshops that cover:
1. study    essentials
2. assignment    writing
3. effective    referencing
4. academic    language.
Details and    current program available at:
1. All    coursework students — academic success
2. Sessions    1 & 2
3. Weeks    1-3; mid-session break; and Week 10.
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Carol Floyd,
Learning Adviser
Learning Skills    Unit, MQ    Library
Learning Skills
Receive advice    from a Learning Adviser via email:
1. All    UG & PG coursework students — academic success
2. Emails    answered within 24hrs Monday-Friday year round
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Learning Skills    Unit, MQ Library
An academic    literacy iLearn unit specifically created to help students:
1. manage their studies
2. strengthen their study techniques
3. write effective assignments
4. improve their English language    proficiency.

Access via:
1. All    commencing students automatically enrolled — transition & academic    success
2. Available    24/7/365
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Vanessa Todd    &
Robyn Westcott,
Learning Advisers
Learning Skills    Unit, MQ    Library
Face to face
An intensive    academic preparation workshop for commencing international students.
1. Commencing    international students —transition
2. Sessions    1 & 2; Week 0-1
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Carol Floyd &    Robyn Westcott,
Learning Advisers
Learning Skills    Unit, MQ    Library
Face to face and    online
A pilot program to train student    writers to provide one-on-one support to their peers, both on-campus and    online.
1. Commencing    students — academic success
2. Pilot    program running in S2, 2016
3. Support    delivered at events in Week 0-1 & in conjunction with selected UG units    throughout S2
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Robyn Westcott,
Project Manager
Learning Skills Unit, MQ Library
Academic    Integrity Module for Students
An iLearn unit to    help students understand:
1. what "academic integrity"    is and why it's important
2. acceptable and unacceptable academic    behaviours at university
3. what 'plagiarism' is and key strategies to    avoid it
4. responsibilities in relation to academic    integrity and student rights under the Macquarie University Academic Integrity Policy.
Access via:
1. All    commencing students enrolled automatically — academic success
2. Available    24/7/365
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Learning Skills    Unit, MQ Library
Face to face
A HEPPP pilot program that introduces    students from equity backgrounds to the expectations and skills necessary to    support retention, active participation and academic success.
The program is    only open to students who self-identify as meeting two or more of the following    criteria:
1. financial    and social hardship
3. refugee    background or hold a permanent humanitarian visa
4. Aboriginal    and/or Torres Strait Islander.
1. Commencing    students — transition
2. Pilot    program running in S2, 2016
3. Initial    intensive session: “WISE-Up” (scheduled in Week 0-1)
+ GetWISE Workshops (6 x 1hr weekly workshops in    Weeks 1-6)
+ “WISE-Up     & Write” (assignment bootcamp in mid-session break)
Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Ann Walker,    Learning Adviser
Learning Skills    Unit, MQ Library
An iLearn unit to    help students develop information literacy skills.
1. All    students
2. Available    24/7/365
MQ Library
Susan Vickery
An iLearn unit to    help students develop their professional aspirations and plan their future    career.
1. All    students
2. Available    24/7/365
Careers and    Employment Service
Julie Doherty
PROPOSED: An iLearn unit to help students develop habits that    promote self-care and increase cognitive and emotional resilience.
1. All    students
2. Available    24/7/365
Student Wellbeing
Ben Wilkes
Indigenous    Tutorial Assistance Scheme for Indigenous students
Face to face
Commonwealth-funded    program that aims to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous students    in tertiary courses to the same levels as those for non‐Indigenous    Australians.
College, UG &    PG transition
Academic staff    and qualified students.
Walanga Muru
Accessibility    Coaching
Face to face
Provision of    academic and organisational skills with specific reference to managing a    disability throughout study
College, UG &    PG transition
Professional    staff
Student Wellbeing
MGSM Study Ready
Face to face    & online
Induction program    designed to introduce students to the School environment and prepare them for    postgraduate study. The day includes; teamwork exercises, an explanation on    how to use the online library and research effectively.
Professional    staff
HDR / MRES    Mentoring
Face to face    & online
Peer to peer    platform to support and enhance the research quality, capability and    experience of the HDR students.
Professional staff & students.
English Language Centre (ELC)
Face to face
Provision of    discipline-specific preparation programs for future university students and    English language programs.
Students and    public
Private provider
Numeracy Centre
Face to face
free drop-in service,    weekly workshops for some first year courses, bridging programs and    preparatory courses at the beginning of each semester and some on-line    resources.
College, UG &    PG
Academic staff
Career and Employment Service
Face to face    & online
Advice,    information and workshops to prepare students for their future career and for    employers to access Macquarie graduates.
All students and    employers
Professional staff

Table 2.3 Student Service Locations  

What it does
Scale basis
Faculty / College    Admin & Student Centers
Face to face    & online
Provision of    Faculty / College-specific information, assistance with appeals, reviews or    special consideration; assignment submission and coversheets.            
All students.
Professional staff
Faculties / the    College
Student Connect & MUSE
Face to face    & online
Home to the new    Student Connect, MUSE also provides an active and social learning space for    students.
All students.
Professional    staff
Student Connect
Library converged    service counter / information desk
Face to face
Supports study    needs and provides equitable access to facilities and equipment inc.    resources to support learning, teaching and research.
Service providers    from across campus can ‘book’ to be at the service desk and address queries    from students on a needs basis.                      A Learning    Adviser is available for consultation at the Info Desk in the Library foyer:
1. no    appointment required
2. free    service
3. consultations    are approx. 20 minutes in length.
All students and    visitors to the library
  1. All    coursework students — academic success
  2. Every    weekday (12:00pm-2:00pm) during teaching weeks from Week 3 onward
Professional    staff                      Tessa Green,
LSU Manager
Library                      Learning Skills    Unit, MQ Library

3     NOTES

3.1Contact    OfficerProject Manager, Office of the PVC L&T
3.2Implementation    OfficerProject Manager, Office of the PVC L&T
3.3Approval    Authority / AuthoritiesAcademic Senate
3.4Date    Approved26 July 2016
3.5Date of    Commencement26 July 2016
3.6Date for    ReviewJuly 2019
3.7Documents    Superseded by this ScheduleNew
3.8Amendment    History
3 March 2020 – Minor Amendment: reference to Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences updated to Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences (FMHHS) - approved by Council 20 Feb 2020 (CNL 20/04).
31 May 2019 – Minor Amendment: references to ‘Campus Wellbeing’ updated to ‘Student Wellbeing.’
8 May 2019 - Minor Amendment: references to Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) updated to Macquarie Business School (MQBS) effective from 8 May 2019.
9 April 2019 – Academic Senate approval to exempt MUIC from the provisions of PAL/PASS (Resolution 19/27)
3.9Policy    AuthorisationPAL/PASS – Peer Assisted Learning and Peer Assisted Study Sessions Policy approved 26 July 2016

Asset ID = 422764

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