Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) are a free academic support program that uses peer led group study to help students, particularly first year students, succeed in specific units. The program focuses on units with high failure or withdrawal rates or those that students perceive to be difficult. The PASS Program at ACU began three years ago on the Brisbane Campus with sessions being offered for 2 units within the Faculty of Arts. Due to the overwhelming success of the program, PASS has since expanded significantly and is now being offered in 29 units across all Campuses and Faculties.
PASS provides scheduled out of class ‘super group’ study sessions where students work together to consolidate key concepts and develop effective study techniques. Trained PASS Leaders, who are students who have previously completed the subject and have achieved strong results, facilitate the PASS Sessions.
Weekly one-hour sessions usually consist of between 5-20 students. Sessions are NOT tutorials and therefore the Leader does not offer answers to problems, but promotes a coordinated group effort to find the solution. PASS sessions integrate how-to-learn with what-to-learn. Students who attend the PASS sessions develop study strategies for note taking, graphic organisation, questioning techniques, vocabulary acquisition, and test preparation as they review course material. Students have the opportunity to become actively involved with their peers as they process the text, supplementary readings and lecture notes.
Students are not allowed to work directly on assessment items during PASS. Rather, they are encouraged to work as a group to develop the necessary skills and strategies to enable the successful completion of assessment tasks in their own time.
It has been shown that students with regular attendance at PASS Sessions perform better on average than students who attend only a few sessions or none at all. In addition, the ongoing PASS programs have consistently shown decreased failure rates and improved results for students who regularly attend units supported by PASS.
The PASS Program is offered in a number of specific units across the four faculties in Semester 1, 2017. Enrolments for PASS Sessions opened to students on Tutorial Direct in Week 2.
It is advisable however to inform students that enrolment may happen at the session on the day. Details of the one hundred and twenty three sessions offered weekly in PASS can be viewed on the student portal at PASS Timetable for Semester 1, 2017.
PASS Coordinators on each campus supports the program and a National Student Retention Coordinator oversees the successful operation of the PASS program.