The PASS effect: how peer assisted study sessions contribute to a computing community

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Computing at UCLan introduced Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) across all their courses in 2016, a scheme which has been identified as 'Best Practice' by the British Computer Society. Pairs of higher-year students (PASS Leaders) facilitate a group of lower year students to discuss and resolve problems during informal weekly sessions which are, in addition to the normal teaching events, scheduled sympathetically with the students' timetables. The sessions offer students extra support, tailored to their needs by identifying topics that they would like to explore further. The PASS Leaders facilitate group discussions or exercises designed to enhance the students' understanding of those topics in engaging and fun sessions. The participants benefit by having a greater understanding of the topics, enhancing their friendship with their peers and Leaders, providing a wider informal support network. Moreover, because of discussions with higher year students, attendees have a greater understanding of what their course is about and where topics fit into the wider context of their degree. There is a weekly debrief of PASS Leaders with a member of staff (PASS Supervisor) to discuss issues raised and offer ongoing support to the PASS Leaders. Troublesome topics are reported to the teaching team, so they can be addressed for future classes. The PASS Leaders benefit as much from the scheme as the students they support. Leaders say that participating in PASS has increased their confidence and has improved their organisational and interpersonal skills, amongst other things. Revisiting topics from previous years can also enhance their understanding of the material. From an academic perspective, the scheme is working well, embedding into the culture of student life. It has fostered the creation of a community across all courses and years, which increases inclusivity and brings a greater sense of belonging to our student body.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCEP' 2020
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 4th conference on computing education practice
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherACM, New York, NY, USA
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9781450377294
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventComputing Education Practice - Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jan 202010 Jan 2020

Academic conference

Academic conferenceComputing Education Practice
Abbreviated titleCEP
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Student experience, student partnership, student peer support


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