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Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty

How is it decided which courses will have PAL or tutoring?

Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) and tutoring target courses that have been historically challenging, enroll large numbers of students, and are prerequisites for other courses in a major or discipline.

What to do if I'm working with a student who would benefit from attending PAL or tutoring?

If you are working with a student who would benefit from attending PAL or tutoring, there are a few things you can do:

•   Personally encourage the student to attend PAL or tutoring through an email or in-person visit. You may choose to direct them to the Tutoring webpage and show them how to schedule a tutoring appointment or tell them when and where PAL takes place for your course.
•   Consider submitting an Academic Alert through APlus.
•   Reach out to the student's Success Coach (if applicable) or Academic Advisor.
•   If the student would benefit from study skills coaching, consider having them contact the Academic Assistance Coordinator to set up an academic skills consultation.
•   If we do not currently have tutoring or PAL for the course in question, encourage the student to complete a Tutor Request Form. It is sometimes possible that we can modify the tutoring schedule or hire additional tutors if students request support.

How are PAL Facilitators and tutors hired?

Faculty recommendations play a major role in how PAL Facilitators and tutors are selected. Each semester, the Academic Assistance Coordinator determines the courses for which we’d like to hire a PAL Facilitator or tutor. Then, an email is sent to faculty asking for student recommendations.

We look for a variety of characteristics when hiring tutors or PAL Facilitators. For instance, we seek students who:

•   Have taken the course at UMM and received a B+ or better
•   Have demonstrated strong communication/leadership skills or a serious interest in enhancing their communication/leadership skills
•   Are able and willing to tutor multiple courses and disciplines
•   Are able to commit to working 3-10 hours per week

The Academic Assistance Coordinator follows up with each of the recommended students to gauge their interest in the role. In addition, students who were not initially recommended by a faculty member but who are interested in the roles may contact the Academic Assistance Coordinator to complete an application. They need a faculty member to complete a reference form for each discipline for which they’d like to tutor before being considered.

All interested students go through an interview process. The Academic Assistance Coordinator selects students for the roles based on experience with the subject/discipline, schedule compatibility, and communication/leadership potential.

How are PAL Facilitators and tutors trained?

PAL Facilitators attend a three-hour training at the beginning of the semester where they discuss the key elements of a PAL session and the role of the PAL Facilitator. They also identify the benefits of collaborative learning techniques and practice active learning strategies. In addition, PAL Facilitators attend mandatory staff meetings throughout the semester, where additional training on various topics is provided.

Tutors attend an hour-and-a-half to two-hour training before they begin working as a tutor. They discuss the role of the tutor, active learning strategies, and facilitation strategies. Additional workshops are held throughout the semester, which tutors can choose to attend. Tutors are paid for attending two hours of professional development over the course of the semester.

What should I do if I'm working with a student who would make a great tutor or PAL Facilitator?

If you're working with a student who would make a great tutor or PAL Facilitator, please let the Academic Assistance Coordinator know. We rely on your recommendations and referrals in the hiring process!

What can I expect from a PAL Facilitator?

The PAL Facilitator will:

•   Attend all class sessions, acting as a model student who takes notes, asks questions, participates in class discussions
•   Maintain a professional attitude about matters such as class standards, grades, and student complaints
•   Discourage students from attending PAL sessions as a substitute for class
•   Share PAL materials with you, the cooperating faculty member, before use, if possible
•   Provide feedback after each PAL session on what questions and doubts students expressed in the PAL session

The PAL Facilitator will not:

•   Re-lecture
•   Answer faculty addressed emails
•   Grade assignments and exams
•   Discourage students from attending class
•   Teach the class in the instructor's absence

What can I expect from a tutor?

A tutor will:

•   Establish a rapport with students conducive to positive professional interactions
•   Respect differences in background, opinion, ability, motivation, and desires
•   Support the student in establishing challenging, yet attainable goals within and beyond the tutor session
•   Maintain confidentiality of records, grades, and other protected information
•   Discourage students from attending tutoring as a substitute for class
•   Not provide answers to anything that is graded, but instead ask questions that will allow the student to find the answers themselves

What can I expect from the Academic Assistance Coordinator and the Office of Academic Success?

The Academic Assistance Coordinator and Office of Academic Success will:

•   Hire PAL Facilitators and tutors only if they've been recommended by a faculty member in the discipline they are supporting. For PAL, it is strongly preferred if the PAL Facilitator is recommended by the cooperating faculty member whose course is being supported
•   Train all PAL Facilitators and tutors before they begin working
•   Monitor the activities of PAL Facilitators and tutors and provide support as needed.
•   Provide supplies and printing access to PAL Facilitators and tutors
•   Provide faculty with an end-of-semester report on utilization of academic assistance programming

Office of Academic Success