What is PASS?
Peer Assisted Study Sessions support targeted, historically difficult courses through collaborative study sessions.
PASS Leaders are senior students that attend lectures alongside students, and hold weekly group study sessions and exam review sessions.
For more information about the PASS program, please email pass [at] mohawkcollege.ca (subject: Information%20About%20PASS) (pass[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca)
PASS (Peer-Assisted Study Sessions) is an academic support program aimed at supporting historically difficult courses at Mohawk College. The PASS Program provides weekly peer-led study sessions to help students achieve academic success in targeted, historically difficult first-year courses. PASS has been supporting targeted, high-risk courses at Mohawk College since 2012.
Mohawk College’s PASS Program is grounded in the principles and best practices of “Supplemental Instruction” (SI). SI is currently used at over 2,000 post-secondary institutions in 29 different countries, including 12 institutions in Ontario.
SI uses collaborative learning strategies in peer-facilitated sessions to assist students. Sessions are completely voluntary and anonymous to faculty, and they provide students with an opportunity to:
- Better understand concepts / course material
- Solve practice problems
- Ask questions
- Learn from your peers
- Study smarter
- Prepare for exams
Recent PASS Data - Summer 2023
- 37% of students enrolled in PASS-supported courses attended PASS sessions
- Students that attended PASS sessions earned 22% higher final grades than non-participants
- PASS participants are 38% more likely to pass their course than non-participants
- PASS participants are 4% more likely to remain enrolled in their course
The PASS Program supports the following courses throughout the academic year:
- MATH 10083
- MATH 10084
- MATH 10088
- MATH MA179
- COMP 10001
- COMP 10062
By attending PASS sessions, students are agreeing to the Declaration of Informed Consent policy.
Canadian National Centre for Supplemental Instruction, University of Guelph, May 2014
This document reflects the work of a small group of Canadian SI professionals who came together in June 2013 to create a set of guidelines for how the Supplemental Instruction model is best implemented within the Canadian higher education context. Given that some best practices are influenced by practical constraints related to resources and budgets, alternative recommendations have also been included to reflect “highly recommended practices”.
- What is Supplemental Instruction (SI)?
- Objectives of SI
- Best Practices for a Certified SI Program
- Highly Recommended Practices for a Certified SI Program
Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a form of co-curricular academic support that supports high-risk courses rather than targeting high-risk students. SI provides students and course instructors with a non-remedial approach to learning enrichment by offering regularly scheduled peer-facilitated study groups within courses to integrate essential academic skills with course-related material. These sessions are facilitated by trained undergraduate students commonly referred to as SI Leaders.
The SI model was created at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) in 1973 and has since been effectively implemented around the world. UMKC remains the International Centre for SI, providing training for the US and accrediting other National Centres to provide their certified training around the globe. In order to run an effective SI Program, faculty and staff receive specialized training from a Certified Trainer in their region. SI Programs appeared on the Canadian landscape in the late 1990s, and have since been implemented across the country in colleges, polytechnics and universities.
SI in colleges, polytechnics and universities throughout Canada responds to a variety of key strategic objectives — such as retention, transition, the first year experience, student success, student engagement and social inclusion agendas — by enabling students to co-construct knowledge and develop study skills under the guidance of more experienced peers, the SI Leaders/Facilitators.
The general objectives of SI are to:
- improve student retention and progression rates
- enhance the quality of the student experience
- deepen understanding of the discipline
- improve academic performance of attendees
- develop and improve student knowledge of effective study strategies
- foster the development of transferable learning skills
- enhance students’ meta-cognitive awareness
- create and foster a learner-centred approach
- foster collaborative and active learning and engagement
- enhance social inclusion and create a non-threatening learning environment
- create discipline-specific student communities of practice
- facilitate social-connectedness
- provide leadership development for high-achieving students
Program Logistics & Operations
- Is run by an SI Supervisor who has been officially trained through the Canadian National Centre for Supplemental Instruction or another Certified Trainer at the University of Missouri Kansas City or other National Centre.
- Is centrally funded by the institution with base budget commitments. This is crucial to effective strategic planning and growth of the SI Program.
- The SI Program is regularly evaluated. This evaluation should include an examination of quantitative as well as qualitative factors, with additional feedback from faculty/instructors regarding their experience with the program and the SI Leader they worked with.
- Has secured ethics clearance through their institutional ethics board, in order to be able to disseminate program results and ensure compliance with federal and provincial privacy legislation.
- If the term 'Supplemental Instruction' will hinder the establishment of the program on a given campus, an alternate name for the program should ideally be in line with other established programs in Canada. Some commonly used names are: Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), Supported Learning Groups (SLGs), Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) and Facilitated Study Groups (FSG).
- In order to best allocate resources, individual SI programs should establish criteria for reviewing all classes offered on campus to guide the addition or discontinuation of courses from the SI roster as the program evolves.
Attaching SI to Courses
The SI model is designed to work with high-risk courses, rather than high-risk students. The SI model is most effective in courses that:
- have a historically high rate of students getting a “D” grade, failing, or withdrawing (also known as a DFW rate) usually in excess of 30 per cent of enrolled students
- are perceived as difficult by students
- have a high level of instructor support and willingness to collaborate
The final decision regarding whether SI support is attached to a course should lie with the SI Program.
Review of Courses with SI Support
When reviewing the effectiveness of SI support in a given course, it is important that feedback be gathered from a variety of courses to guide decisions, including but not limited to the following:
- outcome data for all SI sessions offered to date in the course.
- feedback from students who have attended SI sessions for the course.
- SI Leader experiences running SI sessions for the course.
- instructor feedback.
- Are model students at the undergraduate degree or diploma level. They have taken the course before and achieved an “A” grade, and are academically successful.
- Are trained and supervised by a Certified SI Supervisor.
- Receive intensive training before their placement begins, which should be based on the Training Manual provided through the SI Supervisor Training. This Pre-Service Training should be not less than two full days in length in order to adequately cover the material prior to SI Leaders beginning their role.
- Receive ongoing training during their placement.
- Re-attend all lectures for the course they have been assigned to.
- Develop a professional relationship with course instructors and other relevant staff and communicate with them regularly.
- Are given sufficient time in their placement/hours to be able to properly plan activities and strategies to engage students in the SI sessions, engage in ongoing para-professional learning, and to participate in program promotion as required.
- Are facilitators who re-direct questions, provide time for students to engage with the material and allow students the opportunity to check their understanding of class concepts.
- Are not tutors, TAs, or someone who will explain concepts to students. See the appendix for a definition of the differences between these roles. An SI Leader may be an undergraduate TA for another course, but should not be involved in the assessment or delivery of content in the course they are supporting.
- Have demonstrated excellent interpersonal and communication skills, are meta-cognitively aware and have a strong understanding of group dynamics.
- As a proactive approach to student success, SI Sessions should begin in the first or second week of classes, and run through the end of the semester.
- SI is a non-remedial approach, therefore the sessions are available to all students enrolled in a given course.
- Are voluntary, anonymous and available at no additional charge.
- Are offered on a drop-in basis such that students do not have to sign up to attend. The ideal session size is 10-15 students, though students will never be turned away based on numbers.
- Are peer-facilitated in that they are led by a fellow student (the SI Leader).
- Help students integrate what to learn with how to learn. Students will have the chance to become aware of, and develop, effective study strategies in the context of reviewing relevant course content.
- Are highly interactive and use collaborative learning strategies to help students process and review course content as well as develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Are planned by SI Leaders, but remain flexible depending on the needs of students.
- Have attendance taken at every session.
- Do not impact student grades directly (i.e., participation in SI sessions is not rewarded with marks or extra credit based on attendance), so as not to privilege students who are able to attend over those who legitimately cannot attend as a result of a conflict.
SI Program Logistics & Operations
- If an SI program is not able to be centrally funded with base dollars, it is possible to run a highly effective program through the use of temporary funding (such as grants, one-time-only dollars, contributions from departments). Retaining control over the delivery and supervision of the SI Program-is paramount however and the development of a plan for attempting to secure stable funding should be a priority.
- If the SI program does not have ethics clearance, it is important to contact the institution’s research division to inquire about privacy legislation compliance in relation to taking attendance at all sessions.
Attaching SI to Courses
Other highly recommended factors to consider are:
- the size of the class
- whether the course is a requirement for more than one degree program
- the scope of the material covered, and whether it is a new discipline for students taking it
- the assessment methods and pacing of the curriculum
- In large courses that have multiple sections, it is recommended that each section have at least 1 SI Leader attached to it, particularly if there are multiple instructors. This may vary for large courses with common content delivery and assessment. It is important to take into consideration the size of the institution and the definition of the term 'large,' as well as attendance patterns that emerge over time. SI Leader attendance at lectures not only provides excellent promotion and visibility, it also ensures consistently aligning with course curriculum.
- can still be successful in the role with less than an “A” grade, or if they have demonstrated an ability to improve significantly after struggling academically
- If an SI Leader is unable to re-attend all lectures for the course they have been assigned to, on rare occasions arrangements may be made with the instructor for the SI Leader to still be assigned to the course. The SI Leader should still develop a strong classroom presence, commit to meeting with the faculty member weekly, and regularly communicate with students.
- complete peer observations of sessions to learn from the practice of their fellow leaders and provide feedback to their peers
- Effective SI Sessions can still occur with numbers below or above the ideal session size of 10-15. It is important for the SI Supervisor to track attendance numbers, adjust assignments where possible, and provide additional training and support regarding facilitating very small or very large SI sessions.
- Participation rates vary significantly by institutional context and class size. For institutions with small classes, a participation rate of 40-50 per cent can be ideal.For institutions with very large classes, a participation rate of 15-20 per cent is a reasonable target. An SI Program should set their target participation rate objectives in line with these recommendations.
- SI sessions are commonly held as one-hour sessions three times a week, two 1.5-hour sessions per week, or one three-hour session per week. Institutional context and course content will influence the ideal length of sessions in an SI Program.
PASS Leaders are second-semester students (or higher) that have successfully completed the targeted PASS course, and facilitate weekly group study sessions.
|MATH PASS Leaders||COMP PASS Leaders|
David - MATH Team Lead
Rodrigo - COMP Team Lead
Asha - MATH 10083
Dev - COMP 10001
Devin - MATH 10088
Jacob - COMP 10001
Dhruvil - MATH 10088
Jeesmon - COMP 10001
Farheena - MATH 10083
Lamar - COMP 10001
Herath - MATH 10088
Mario - COMP 10001
Imogene - MATH 10084
Phaedra - COMP 10001
Jason - MATH 10084
Robert - COMP 10001
Mel - MATH 10084
Sada - COMP 10001
Neil - MATH 10088
Sam - COMP 10001
Noah - MATH MA179
Saurav - COMP 10001
Patricia - MATH 10083
Syed - COMP 10001
Pious - MATH 10084
Ryker - MATH MA179
Sangharsh - MATH 10088
Veronica - MATH 10084