Why I like the PALS program: My philosophy on using the PALS program.
I believe some students in developmental classes, whether English, math or ESL, need connection and supplemental support in addition to instruction to succeed.
The PALS program provides the added support and connection for these students.
- On the first day of class, I tell my students that our class is participating in the Peer Assisted Learning Specialist Program. I explain what the PALS Program provides. They will have their very own dedicated tutor to help them with their work in the classroom and outside of class.
- The second day of class, I introduce my PALS to the class. My PALS speaks to the class and tells them a little bit about himself/herself and then gives them his/her email address. The students are encouraged to contact their PALS for help.
PALS outside the classroom:
- When my PALS meets the class for the first time, we pass around a grid of hours and days that my PALS is available for help outside of the classroom and the students check all the times and days that fit their schedule. I discuss this schedule with my PALS and we find two - three hours a week that can accommodate the most students.
- I find a room for that time block and days for the entire semester so that the students know consistently where to go for help with their PALS. We learned that it takes a few weeks for most students to use their PALS outside of class, so I offer the incentive of 1 point per meeting to be added to their homework scores to get them there sooner and more often. I give my PALS a sign-in sheet so they can keep track of the students that come for tutoring. I collect these sheets before every exam and the points get added to their homework scores. (This works! The students come!)
- For students who cannot meet at the designated time and day, they may make appointments to meet with their PALS by emailing the PALS in advance to see if they are available.
- I give Class Work as an assignment for a grade, and these Class Works start in the classroom, and then are completed at home and are due the next class period. Most students will then go to the PALS outside of class to complete their Class Work, and/or to check their answers.
PALS inside the classroom:
- My PALS comes into the classroom twice a week for one hour each time.
- My PALS listens to the lecture, and helps the students whenever I put up a practice problem in between instruction. The PALS and I go around the classroom checking in on the students or go to any student who raises their hand for help.
- I incorporate group work or class work towards the last 15 minutes of class specifically for my classes that are in the PALS Program.
- Sometimes I have my PALS write the problems on the board and do the problems for the students to see. I want my students to connect more with my PALS and this offers another perspective for the students.
- If my PALS has any questions during the week, they can come to my office to talk. I also exchange cell phone numbers with my PALS and they can contact me via text, besides email.
- I assign 6 - 8 Class Works each semester usually worth 20 points each. My PALS grades the Class Work assignments. This is about 4 hours out of the 80 hours for the entire semester. I believe the bulk of PALS’ time should be spent with students, inside and outside the classroom.
- I meet with my PALS about once a month to get their time sheets and to talk about the students and class and to check in on their progress.
- My advice on finding a PALS for your class is to get someone that is good with helping others, a people-person, and energetic, besides being proficient in the subject matter. The PALS are one of the connections that students make in the class, on campus and in their college experience.