PEER ASSISTED STUDY SESSIONS (PASS) PEER MENTORING FOR WIDENING ACCESS AND INCLUSIVITY
Ulster University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) is an internationally renowned and quality assured academic support and retention program which offers peer mentoring with recognised National and International networks (https://www.si-pass.lu.se). PASS was first introduced to Ulster University in 2010 by three schools. A three year pilot to embed PASS@Ulster institutionally and share the benefits much more widely for widening access and inclusivity objectives is currently underway (2017-2020). New recruitment and support systems have been put in place and many more programmes have now joined PASS. During academic year 2018/19, 118 new pass Leaders were recruited across 16 programmes.
PASS has 21 guiding principles (https://www.ulster.ac.uk/about/widening-access/initiatives/pass). It involves trained student PASS leaders (mentors) usually working in pairs to facilitate weekly timetabled study sessions with students from earlier year groups (mentees). Students (mentees) set the session agenda with their PASS leaders (mentors). PASS leaders share their experiences and facilitate discussions. They don’t teach but offer advice and help. They know what it is like to be a first year and have been in mentees’ shoes. During PASS sessions mentees learn collaboratively by comparing notes, clarifying what they read and hear, analysing, questioning and seeking verification of ideas. PASS leaders respect confidentiality but meet with staff academic leads weekly after PASS sessions for debrief sessions to provide staff with regular and ongoing feedback.
This session should be of interest to anyone interested in learning about the benefits of peer mentoring for widening access and inclusivity.
It will share key evaluation findings before and during the PASS pilot which demonstrates the many benefits of PASS for the pass leaders (mentors), student mentees, staff and the university. A Pre and Post Survey was administered to both PASS Leader Mentees and PASS Mentors. Focus groups and feedback sessions were also used throughout the academic year.
A staff member has commented, "Not only does PASS aim to widen participation by providing a support mechanism aimed at helping students stay in Higher Education but the use of PASS has been shown to enhance academic performance and promote the development of skills and attributes to strengthen employability. This is particularly the case for PASS leaders who are often described as the ‘real winners’ in the process.”
A student PASS leader mentor has commented “For me personally seeing the students develop to having the confidence in themselves to tackle any challenges in their way shows that PASS just does so much good”.
This session will also showcase outputs developed during the pilot phase to support staff and students including a Blackboard VLE support area with a range of resources, digital stories captured by students to advertise the scheme to younger years and problem solving support cards.
Keywords: Peer mentoring, widening access, inclusivity, student support and employability.