York College City University of New York (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 1903-1914
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
The Personal Assistance Learning (PAL) program is a special peer tutoring model associated with the Math and Science Partnership in New York City (MSPinNYC ) research and evaluation team. PAL is a program that trains more advanced peer tutors to help underachieving and historically at risk students in urban schools attain success in high school math and science. In order to participate as tutors, students must have passed the Integrated Algebra or Living Environment Science (Biology) course and the state Regents exams with a minimum score of 75. However, intrinsic to this program is the desire to see an increase in the tutors’ academic levels of content understanding, overall college preparedness and the ability to take higher level math and science classes.
The students, tutors and teachers involved in this program were all from high schools in New York City. The schools that participate in this program are considered high needs schools and less than half of the eligible students pass the state-wide mandated Regents exams with a score of 65, the score required for a Regent’s diploma. The graduation rate at these schools is between 35-40%; 82 to 92% students qualify for free or reduced lunch, a socioeconomic indicator of children living in poverty. There is also a substantial number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in this population.
During class, tutors work with their tutees to explain the concepts and teach or reinforce the content that the teacher has taught in the direct portion of the lesson. The classes are typically a 45 minute mixture of direct instruction and large and small group interaction with the material. Classes of 25-30 struggling students might have 6-7 tutors in small groups of 3-5 students. Tutors must make efficient use of the time they spend with the tutees and therefore need guidance and scaffolding as well.
Teachers in the PAL classroom must not only plan their lessons for their students, but they must assist tutors in content and pedagogy instruction. The teacher meets with the tutors on a daily schedule to review the content they will be teaching and guide them in teaching and motivational strategies. The teacher must monitor and assess all students in the class, both the tutors and tutees. It is imperative that the teacher understand learning styles and interpersonal relationships. Tutors, high school students themselves, must be carefully monitored to assure that the learning environment remains focused and in control, on task, pedagogically sound and content accurate.
Teachers and tutors are given training on how to work with their struggling students. University faculty members who are experts in the content areas work with and support the teachers and the tutors. Workshops, seminars and weekly visits from the university faculty provide pedagogical, instructional and academic support to the teachers and the tutors. In future, an expert in English Language Learner (ELL) development will be participating in the project to assure that ELL pedagogy and linguistic needs are met.
The PAL model began in summer Institutes and, based on its success, is being implemented in academic year classrooms. Data from the summer institutes have shown significant gains in students’ success on the state exams. It is this data and the accompanying analysis of pedagogy, program structure, and change in student academic achievement and attitudes that would be presented in this conference.