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"The PAL scheme has completely transformed my university experience, and the opportunities it's opened up have transformed me as a person. I attended the PAL Leader Conference in Bournemouth this year, I got to meet other PAL leaders from universities across the country and take part in new activities. There was even the opportunity to present at a national conference, something I would never have been able to do without being involved in the PAL scheme!"

Leanne Hunt - Psychology

PAL Leader Case Study - Leanne Hunt, Psychology

Why do you think Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is important?

It's important for students as it can enhance the overall university experience. It can increase their grades, as well as their interpersonal skills which are important to employers. It helps both the students who are learning and the students who are PAL Leaders.  

What was your role as a PAL leader?

As a Psychology student, my role included running a small group for first-year Psychology students to facilitate their learning, based on what they want to do. They pick the topic, and I create activities based on that particular topic.    

Why did you decide to become a PAL leader?

I attended PAL sessions as a first-year, and I found it really helpful. I didn't know anybody and I felt quite isolated when I started university, and being in the PAL group helped me to get to know people.  I felt that I had somebody there to support me. I wanted to give that back to other students.          

What skills have you gained from being involved in the PAL scheme?

My interpersonal skills – being able to work with someone else and work within a group, have really been enhanced.

I've also learnt leadership skills. At some point I might progress to a leadership level within my career, and it's nice to know I've got those skills, and that I can look after a team. 

Until recently I had a phobia of travelling and trains. Having to travel to Bournemouth for the conference really helped me push through my fear. Because it boosted my confidence, I put in for my driving to test and passed - this has all come from being a PAL Leader.

What advice would you give to a first-year student?

I'd advise that if they really want to get the most out of the university experience, and if they want to enhance both their interpersonal and their academic skills, to attend the PAL scheme, be an Ambassador or a Student Rep - just get involved in any extra-curricular activities.

I would emphasize the PAL scheme as it's related directly to your subject. It can really help you in terms of assessments and assignments, as you discuss them in the group and share ideas before you hand them in - it really can help improve your grades.  

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"PAL is important for students that are in their first year, it helps them adjust to university life and get a grasp on their studies. We help them not only prepare for exams and coursework but also support them, give advice and guide them to appropriate support services."

Anil Nawaz - Big Data Science and Technology

PAL Leader Case Study - Anil Nawaz, Big Data Science and Technology

What was your role as a PAL leader?

As a PAL leader you have to facilitate the students learning, so you're not teaching them but you are helping them with their studies. If a student approaches us with a [different type of] concern, we direct them to the right team to deal with that problem.

Why did you decide to become a PAL leader?

I decided to become a PAL leader to grow my confidence. In my first year, during my undergraduate degree, I didn't have a lot of confidence and now I am able to do presentations in front of large groups of people, I'm able to communicate better with people - whereas before I wouldn't feel confident doing that.

What skills have you gained from being involved in the PAL scheme?

As well as increasing my confidence, my communication skills have improved. Both written and verbal communication skills are important, especially for presentations and meetings. 

I have also developed my organisational skills through planning PAL sessions, in a similar way to how a teacher would plan lessons. My teamwork skills have also improved because PAL involves working in teams of up to 15 people

All of these skills have improved my employability as well as helping me with my studies and assignments.

What's the best thing about being a PAL leader?

The best thing is working with students and seeing them grow. It also furthers your own understanding of the subject because although we have studied the modules before it gives us a chance to see how the subject is evolving.

Why do you think it's important for students to get involved in things at the university outside of their studies?

It's not all just about doing your degree. It's good to join clubs and societies, or get involved with other programs like the PAL scheme or become a student rep because it gives you confidence, develops your skills and also gives you the opportunity to meet new people and make friends.

Bradford is such a diverse place that you will find people with the same interests as you if you put yourself out there.

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"Don’t be frightened by the role. At first, it may seem like an impossible task but the main thing is that you’re sharing your experiences with them to help them through their first year. Also, it looks great on job applications as it showcases the use of initiative and creativity. Have fun with it and be yourself!"

Hafsah Patel - Chemical Engineering

PAL Leader Case Study - Hafsah Patel, Chemical Engineering

What are the key achievements you feel that you’ve made from PAL?

PAL has given me plenty of skills, including patience, organisational skills and the ability to speak confidently in a room full of people. Another bonus is that I got to interact with other Leaders across the faculty too!

Which PAL session do you feel was most successful for you, why?

Out of the sessions, my partner and I delivered the most successful one with the highest turnout and most positive feedback was concerning report writing and how to write up a successful essay/lab report. For the session, I prepared a print-out guide summarising an effective systematic technique that could be utilised by the students for their next report, and we explored a few of their questions regarding the topic. The students remarked that the session was useful for them as they had reports due for hand-in on the same week!

You had the opportunity to attend the annual PASS/PAL national leader conference, how was the experience for you?

The PASS/PAL leader conference was a great learning curve and allowed me to see the scheme from the perspectives of students at other universities. It was interesting to see the differences across different establishments and courses, and I picked up a lot of skills that I could apply to my own sessions.

What have you been involved in since completing your time as a PAL Leader? How do you feel the PAL Leader role has enabled your future plans?

Since graduation I have been applying for graduate roles and having the PAL scheme on my CV has really boosted my employability. As there is an essence of leadership and management, along with other key transferable skills required to be a PAL Leader, it helped me have a slight advantage over other candidates that may not have had the same experiences as I had.

What would you say to anyone reading this who may be considering becoming a PAL Leader?

Don’t be frightened by the role. At first, it may seem like an impossible task but the main thing is that you’re sharing your experiences with them to help them through their first year. Also, it looks great on job applications as it showcases the use of initiative and creativity. Have fun with it and be yourself!