MA3PAL-Peer Assisted Learning

Module Provider: Mathematics and Statistics
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MA1CA Calculus and MA1FM Foundations of Mathematics and MA1LA Linear Algebra and
Non-modular pre-requisites: Training session run in Welcome Week
Modules excluded: MA3PRO Part 3 Project ST3PR Statistics Project
Current from: 2021/2

Module Convenor: Dr Nick Biggs

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module will enable students who have volunteered to be Peer-assisted Learning (PAL) Leaders in Mathematics to gain a deeper understanding of their own learning and that of their peers on the same programme but in the years below through reflecting systematically on their weekly Mathematics peer learning sessions that they have planned, facilitated, and reviewed.

SELECTION PROCESS Students will be selected by written application and interview on the basis of academic ability, commitment and motivation as students, and an interest in learning, volunteering and possibly a career in education. The selection will be made by the Module Convenor. The Module Convenor will have the final say in terms of recruitment.


PAL Leaders will develop coaching, organisational, presentation and communication skills by leading peer Mathematics study groups to help their fellow students revisit their learning, solve problems and deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts by working collaboratively. The cycle of planning, leading and reflecting on practical PAL sessions will contribute to the development of employment competencies as well as provide relevant experience for those students considering applying for postgraduate teacher training. The aim is that this module will increase choice and enhance personal career development opportunities within the Part 3 Mathematics degree programme.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • Identify and critically evaluate a range of different approaches to facilitating cross-cohort peer learning and active learning methods suitable to the leading of Mathematics Peer-assisted Learning sessions;

  • Prepare, plan and deliver a series of PAL sessions, at least one of which will be observed with feedback provided to inform the PAL Leader’s reflection and develo pment as a facilitator;

  • Read and synthesise academic articles about learning theory and peer learning to provide a theoretical base to evaluate their practice as PAL leaders;

  • Write a reflective report about their work as a PAL leader and evaluate what they have gained from their experience of PAL and how this relates to theory and to evaluate what went well and why and how their sessions could be improved further and why.

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to develop:

  • A deeper understanding of the Mathematics modules in which they are leading PAL sessions;

  • Adaptability, tact and quick-thinking in response to the demands of peers in earlier years who PAL Leaders are helping to learn independently;

  • IT skills through use of online resources and presentational technologies;

  • A wide range of other presentation, organisational and interpersonal skills readily transferable to other areas of employment besides teaching.

Outline content:

To enrol on the module there will be an application process which will involve the submission of a short application form and an interview with the module convenor and another consulting party.

Following acceptance for the module, students will attend two core training days on campus before facilitating PAL sessions. Before each session, they will communicate actively with students in the years below to encourage attendance at PAL sessions, keep accurate attendance re gisters, produce detailed PAL session plans, write detailed session reviews, reflecting on what worked well and why, including evaluation of skills developed and critical reflection. PAL leaders will be observed facilitating a PAL session at least once and will receive support and feedback on their practice. After all PAL sessions have been completed, PAL Leaders should write and submit a reflective report on their experience with supporting rationale (making reference to relevant literature), r eflective evaluation, references, and as an appendix copies of their session plans, session reviews and any relevant learning materials.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Prior to facilitating PAL sessions, PAL Leaders will be introduced to and engage practically with the principles and practice of peer assisted learning (based on the ‘Supplemental Instruction’ model of peer learning developed at the University of Missouri, Kansas City). Participation in this training is mandatory. PAL leaders will learn about the distinction between facilitation and teaching, and will develop their listening, questioning and facilitation skills. They will also learn how to promote PAL to lower year students, how to meet the needs of diverse learners and how to plan, time and facilitate PAL sessions effectively. Student PAL Leaders will facilitate scheduled PAL sessions, which are structured to meet the needs of their peers, and run alongside lectures, seminars and tutorials during the term. They will communicate regularly with their group participants, academic contact and the PAL Coordinator to gain support and advice. Student PAL Leaders will need to allocate sufficient time for independent study during the term when they are facilitating PAL sessions to communicate with their learners, write PAL session plans and session reviews for every session and read research on learning theory and peer learning to inform their practice. Further independent study will be required for the completion of their reflective report.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Project Supervision 2 2
Practicals classes and workshops 16 16
Guided independent study: 82 82
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 70
Oral assessment and presentation 10
Practical skills assessment 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:


Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Reflective report on the experience gained through PAL Leadership and skills and competencies developed.
PAL Session plans and Session reviews with accompanying resources and examples of correspondence to support learning.
Promoting PAL to prospective Leaders and to prospective PAL participants.
Performance in a PAL session – assessment by PAL Coordinator.

Formative assessment methods:
Regular formative feedback will be available from students taking part in the PAL sessions.

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of the report in August/September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 July 2021


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