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From learners to leaders

Ng Wen Sze reports on how, since its inception six years ago, SIM's Peer-Assisted Learning programme has benefited thousands of students.

Written by Ng Wen Sze |

PAL leaders at SIM
Desiree Lim: “As a PAL leader, I felt the jump from learner to leader. It was exciting. I was personally invested in my learners’ progress."

Six years ago, SIM Global Education started the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) programme to create a platform for juniors to seek advice from seniors who have excelled academically. The PAL leaders facilitate discussions during the PAL sessions to encourage deeper understanding in the subjects while cultivating study skills. Since its inception, the programme has seen 307 University of London (UoL) PAL leaders and more than 3,500 UoL PAL learners come through. Just this past academic year alone, there were 72 UoL students among the 92 PAL leaders making a positive impact on over 1,200 UoL students.

To thank the leaders for the time they had invested and their efforts to impact their juniors’ lives, an appreciation lunch was held on 7 June 2019. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that many of the PAL leaders were once PAL learners. When asked to share why they chose to be a PAL leader, the majority said they had benefited from the programme and wanted to give back. They hope that more of their juniors can have the same positive experience and “pass it on” too.

During the appreciation lunch, Senior PAL leader, Desiree Lim, a final year student in BSc Accounting and Finance, shared how she felt fortunate to have undergone three phases of PAL – first as a PAL learner, then a PAL leader and finally a Senior PAL leader.

Desiree said: “As a PAL leader, I felt the jump from learner to leader. I had to prepare for PAL sessions and there were new expectations. It was exciting. I was personally invested in my learners’ progress and the autonomy to plan for PAL sessions was something I relished.

We do not usually have this chance to get involved in something from conceptualization to the end. During the journey, I honed my public speaking skills and strengthened new and existing friendships.

As a Senior PAL leader, I learnt even more. My team and I planned on a larger scale to bring about orientation bonding games, critical thinking and communication workshops with the guidance of staff. We do not usually have this chance to get involved in something from conceptualization to the end. During the journey, I honed my public speaking skills and strengthened new and existing friendships.”

At a separate occasion on 30 April, we caught up with five first-time PAL leaders for 'Introduction to Economics'. All had received a commendation from the University of London for excelling in the 2018 examinations. All had started as PAL leaders prior to finding out about their UoL award. They, too, had expressed much satisfaction in being PAL leaders. We hope they will continue to do well in their exams and be PAL leaders in the next round.
 
This learning environment of seniors helping juniors not only benefits the learners, it also provides leaders with a platform to be trained and become better versions of themselves. We hope more students will join PAL leadership and find it engaging and life-changing in their academic journey as University of London students.

Main image, from left to right: Regine Yo, BSc Business and Management; Caius Tan, BSc Banking and Finance; Ngy Huy Lin, BSc Economics and Finance; Lee Chun Leong, BSc Business and Management; Kaung Min Khant, BSc Economics and Finance.

  • Ng Wen Sze is Senior Programme Executive at SIM Global Education.