A Flinders University PASS session will typically have between 15-28 students, and 2 PASS Facilitators. Sessions are informal; however they may contain structured activities for the class to work through in small groups.
The relaxed environment enables students to seek help from their facilitators without the anxiety associated with approaching academics.
Most importantly PASS Facilitators are not teachers so they do not provide students with the answers to problems. Facilitators guide students towards discovering the answer themselves, which, from an educational perspective is much more rewarding.
Peer learning programs like PASS have been around for approximately 35 years resulting in a vast amount of literature documenting the benefits. These benefits include:
- Improved academic performance (increased mean exam & final grade, see fig. 1) .
- Increased retention into higher year topics.
- Increased persistence towards and timely graduation.
- Enables transition of first year students to university, both academically and socially.
- Development of efficient study skills.
- Increased efficiency of study during PASS as compared to individual study.
- Enhanced learning via provision of immediate feedback and discussion of difficult problems.
- Students are motivated to keep up with weekly topic content.
- Greater student satisfaction in topics.
- And importantly, students make friends!
Figure 1 (above) shows the summary data collected from 53 institutions (61 868 students) in the U.S. that run Supplemental Instruction (SI) programs (The precursor to PASS). These results are from a range of different institution types and show that PASS is effective in improving grades across a wide range of disciplines (International Centre for Supplemental Instruction 2003).