What is PASS?
The Peer Assisted Study Session (PASS) Program is non-remedial academic assistance program that supports students studying selected units. PASS provides peer‐led, active learning environments in which students can work together to better understand course content. PASS is commonly attached to traditionally difficult units or is implemented to create discipline‐specific learning communities.
PASS does not “reteach” the course material and differs from tutorials and lectures in that students work together to learn from each other, rather than from the academic staff.
For the University, PASS assists in supporting the following goals:
- Reducing rates of attrition within targeted subjects
- Improving student grades in targeted subjects
- Increasing the graduation rates of students
- Assisting students to make a successful transition to tertiary study and life at university
- Supporting students to develop transferable study skills and become proactive learners
PASS at UTAS is an Australasian accredited PASS Program adhering to the PASS Guidelines for Best Practice (PDF 646.9KB). PASS was first piloted at the University of Tasmania in 2007, supporting three units and since grown to support 54 units across all faculties and Tasmanian campuses in 2011.
How does PASS work?
PASS offers free and voluntary weekly sessions, which focus on integrating course content (what to learn) with academic reasoning and study skills (how to learn). Students studying PASS-supported units are encouraged to attend PASS sessions, which are held on campus and scheduled for times favourable to both the students’ and PASS Leaders’ timetables, on a weekly basis.
In a PASS session, students engage in a wide range of activities, including lecture reviews, team problem solving challenges and group discussions. PASS sessions are facilitated by PASS Leaders, students who have previously completed the unit with distinction, have undertaken training, and are subject to ongoing development and guidance. PASS Leaders facilitate interaction between students and work to promote independent learning through a collaborative approach to problem solving, learning, and developing study skills suited to the discipline area.
PASS sessions foster a positive and relaxed learning environment. By increasing student engagement in learning tasks, PASS acts as a powerful complement to traditional lectures and tutorials. This peer learning environment positions students as proactive learners, equipped not only for the challenges of their course but also the wider context of life-long learning.
PASS Leaders do not re-teach any unit material and do not give any assistance with assignments. PASS sessions do not replace attendance at lectures and tutorials.
What are the benefits of PASS?
Students who attend PASS on a regular basis (10 plus sessions per semester) are shown, on average, to regularly achieve final marks 7-10% higher that students who do not attend PASS. These results are consistent across disciplines and at universities worldwide. In addition PASS is shown to increase retention rates and student engagement.
Students have also said that PASS assists them to identify and better understand key concepts and helps them to develop good study techniques relevant to their discipline. Participation in PASS program also contributes to students’ sense of belonging to the group, discipline area and the broader University community
For further information on the benefits of PASS please refer to results.