Status report for European SI/PASS/PAL-programmes

Research output: Book/ReportReport


This report is based on the contributions from SI/PASS/PAL supervisors at 63 Universities in Europe to a basic survey of 13 questions. Each institution that responded to the survey was invited to provide more detailed information about the programme including attendance statistics and examples of
evaluation/impact; 45 universities provided these more detailed responses. At present, there are nine countries in Europe (mostly in the north-western part) with SI/PASS/PAL schemes. However, with supervisors trained recently from Belgium and Spain it is likely that an expansion will happen in the near

There is a great variation in the programmes described below, which is a strength when growing the SI/PASS/PAL community. Some are quite small with one supervisor, a handful of Leaders and SI/PASS/PAL attached to a single subject. Others are huge with 10+ supervisors, several hundreds of leaders and where SI/PASS/PAL is attached to 100+ courses in all subject areas. Some programmes are relatively old and have existed since the mid-1990s when SI expanded beyond the borders of the US, while others are just about to start with a pilot. Furthermore, paying Leaders is usually the case in the Scandinavian countries, while the opposite seems to be generally true in Great Britain. Similarly, Leaders usually work in pairs in Britain while often working alone in Sweden. In common for all SI/PASS/PAL programmes are the initial training and continuous support of the Leaders and a follow-up/evaluation of the programme outcomes.

The objectives with introducing or having SI/PASS/PAL varies between Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), illustrating how many different areas the learning model may address. Some examples of goals extracted from the Case Studies in the following pages are:

· improving student performance and retention,
· increasing student engagement with the subject and their understanding,
· to complement ordinary education and have organized study groups with a facilitator,
· enhancing students early learning experiences and let students see their peers as learning resources,
· to support: (1) a successful transition to higher education, (2) help 1st year students develop a sense of belonging, (3) academic success, (4) student health and wellbeing, (5) progression.

Although Supplemental Instruction (SI), Peer Assisted Study Sessions/Schemes (PASS), and Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) are the common names for the learning programme, some HEIs show great ingenuity in finding other names. Having their own local name can be important for the HEI in marketing and identifying their programme internally. However, there are some dangers to be aware of. Firstly, different names may lead to confusion if we are talking about the same type of programme, potentially hindering information exchange. Secondly, when creating an own brand name it might be tempting to stray from the original model. Whilst this may be appropriate for the HEI, this means that the programme will not be comparable with others. The strength of the SI/PASS/PAL model lies in having the same essential elements in the programme (see appendix) and it is important that practitioners adhere to it if they want to compare results and impact of their programmes across institutional and national borders.

The SI/PASS/PAL learning model is well established at many HEIs in northern Europe. Whilst we know there are some HEIs that have yet to respond to the first call for information from the 63 programmes responding to the survey, we can make the following estimates (based on the estimate that 73 HEIs have active SI/PASS/PAL programmes):
· there are ~290 trained supervisors actively involved in the SI/PASS/PAL programmes,
· approximately 8,400 SI/PASS/PAL-leaders are employed each year,
· on average the leaders hold about 15 sessions during an academic year being 0,5-3 hours in length,
· there are ~1,530 courses supported by SI/PASS/PAL each year,
· the number of students having access to SI/PASS/PAL per year is ~141,200,
· the number of students attending at least one time per year is ~81,600 (58 % of those having access),
· the average attendance on SI/PASS/PAL sessions is ~31 %,
· the average number of students at a session is ~10,
· the number of contact hours is ~809,000 during an academic year. (Contact hours are the total number of hours students visit sessions during a year).

The various follow-up and evaluation examples from different HEIs illustrate that many of the intended goals of SI/PASS/PAL programmes are met. Some examples provided in the Case Studies later in this publication include:
· higher student performance,
· improved communication and leadership skills as well as increased employability for Leaders,
· increased confidence for new students with regard to the student support the HEI gives
· improved learning experience for students,
· teachers are provided with valuable information from Leaders on areas the students struggle with,
· improves and reduces questions from students to teachers.

An area where the SI/PASS/PAL community in Europe can improve is in publishing their initiatives, experiences, and research studies. Hopefully, the examples below can serve as an inspiration to present your own material and conduct research.


  • Joakim Malm
  • Leif Bryngfors
  • William Carey
  • Arthur Holmer
  • Lise-Lotte Mörner
  • Marcia Ody
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Learning
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLUND
PublisherLund University (Media-Tryck)
Commissioning bodyEuropean Centre for SI-PASS
Number of pages102
ISBN (Print)978-91-984120-2-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch