Bringing students together to help each other learn and grow is the philosophy behind Western’s Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Centre.
A drop-in space where students can receive free, one-to-one, course-specific assistance from trained, upper-year students, the PAL Centre re-opened its doors this week to in-person visits following two years of providing virtual support due to pandemic restrictions.
Coleen Dalton, manager, learning development and success, said the PAL Centre team is excited to welcome students back.
“Our new model of both in-person and virtual help ensures all students can access excellent course specific and learning strategy help from our upper-year learning peers. It really is a win-win situation where students receive help with their courses, and our peers receive impactful, professional training and on-going mentoring,” she said.
The PAL Centre is staffed by learning peers, peer ambassadors and other support staff. Upper-year students who have excelled academically in their respective field of study, learning peers help students with a variety of course-related content and effective studying habits, such as time management and exam preparation. Peer ambassadors are responsible for the operation of the PAL Centre including helping students connect with learning peers and coordinating outreach activities such as study sessions for large, first-year classes.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the PAL Centre for the past two years. Being a learning peer has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Western. What started as a position where I was volunteering to give back to the community resulted in my own personal growth.”~ Medical sciences student
Richard Nahhas is a STEM educational specialist with the PAL Centre and helps to secure student volunteers. Similar to learning peers, educational specialists like Nahhas support student learning through one-on-one appointments but dive even deeper into strategies that may be affecting their ability to study effectively.
This year, the PAL Centre teamed up with the Centre for Teaching and Learning to enhance the training curriculum for new peer leaders.
“We do our best to make sure our volunteers are prepared, but that they’re developing professionally and personally as well,” said Nahhas. “We also encourage them to speak from their own experiences, as this can help them develop meaningful connections with the students they’re assisting.”
The PAL Centre offers in-person support for students Monday to Friday 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Western Student Services Building and Tuesdays and Thursdays 6 to 9 p.m. in the D.B. Weldon Library. Virtual services are also available during these hours.