Evaluating three years of our peer-assisted learning scheme

Jonathan Louden, Simon McComb, Conor Moore, Jonathan Cole

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Peer-assisted learning (PAL) has existed for three years in our School. A pilot scheme in 2016/17 involved 18 mentors supporting 188 first-year engineering students but engagement was low; the scheme not being in place from the start of the year might have been a factor.

Organisation of the 2017/18 scheme began much earlier. Mentor selection began in February 2017 and training commenced in April. Mentors introduced themselves to new students during welcome week. Weekly drop-in sessions were held in an open-plan groupwork room; this increased to two sessions per week following student request. The scheme was much more successful than in the pilot year with 20% of first-year students using the scheme at least once. There was some evidence of mentee development. Mentors found participating highly rewarding and benefits reported include an increased sense of community within the School, opportunity of an autonomous position of responsibility and reinforcement of own study skills and subject knowledge.

With the scheme becoming established, a similar approach to its organisation occurred in 2018/19. Mentor selection began in February, the first training session was in March, and coaching and subject-specific training took place in September. The 15 mentors include second-, third- and final-year students and the group comprises local and international students and one mature student.

There has been significant increase in student numbers attending PAL sessions in 2018/19. While last year the maximum number in a session was 12, this year so far the maximum attendance has been 31 students, the mean attendance is 13 and there are often at least 20 students present. PAL sessions are now marked on students’ timetables, emphasising them as a recognised part of the schedule, albeit attendance being voluntary. While some students have specific queries, others are happy to work in groups and ask for help when needed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
EventRAISE Conference 2019: Exploring the Impact of Student Engagement - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 04 Sept 201906 Sept 2019


ConferenceRAISE Conference 2019: Exploring the Impact of Student Engagement
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • peer-assisted learning
  • mentoring
  • engineering students


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