Peer mentors and PAL leaders have access to various ceremonies and support sessions run throughout the year, including the National PAL Leader Conference.
The annual European PASS/PAL Leader Conference took place on Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November 2018 at the University of Manchester Students' Union. Senior PAL Leaders Katya Kowalski and Joshua Tenn and PAL Leader Anca Salagean represented Bath at the event.
The University of Manchester hosted the 9th Annual European PASS/PAL Leader Conference in collaboration with The European Centre for SI-PASS, Over 100 students and members of staff from 31 institutions and 5 countries came together to share good practices and experiences, connect with each other and develop new skills.
The theme for 2018 was “Empowering Leaders of the Future: Who Will We Bee?”. The theme celebrated the “worker bee” that has become a symbol of Manchester, representing tenacity, resilience and community in the city. Alongside a series of valuable and insightful keynote speeches and hands-on workshops, the students competed in a team challenge to explore the role of PAL in the future of education. One of our students came second with their team.
In our PAL Leaders' Words
The PAL/PASS Conference in November was a massive success in our eyes. We all learnt a lot. It was a great way to not only share the successes of our own PAL schemes but also to learn new techniques from other PAL leaders from around the country.
Josh and Katya did a presentation on ePALuating our Psychology PAL scheme from last year. We shared some of the main activities we used in sessions that worked really well and evaluated our scheme as a whole. We thought this went really well as it seemed that other students got a lot out of it and it initiated a lot of discussion amongst the audience with lots of questions and suggestions, which was great! (We even found out this week that our famous ‘Pal Pong’ has been adopted in Sweden as part of their PAL sessions!)
The conference had a wide variety of activities over the 3 days. The main, continuous activity was a ‘team challenge’ where all students worked in small groups to create a pitch for what a University would look like in the future (anytime after 2030). The goal of the task was to envision how Higher Education may change in the coming years, how PAL will fit into that and what its role will be. We all thought this was a fun and engaging activity which spanned over the weekend.
Additionally to this, various keynote speakers presented at the conference on various topics, such as using the growth mindset and tackling generational differences in education. There were also smaller, ‘hands-on’ sessions on topics focused on specific elements of PAL sessions such as how to be more creative with sessions, how to increase attendance and how to promote wellbeing.
Something we all found very useful was an activity on ‘Strengths Profiling’ which we will try and incorporate into the PAL refresher training in February. This activity focused on identifying and defining our strengths in way which is quite different and refreshing to most strength/weakness exercises!
Overall, it was a great experience and we all got a lot out of it - something we would definitely recommend to any future PAL leaders!
Psychology Welcome Events
Our peer mentoring freshers’ event involved a tour across campus with tasks to complete. The event was organised very well and working out the tasks from the clues not only allowed the mentors and mentees to work together, but also meant they could get to know the key points on campus. From talking to both first and second years, the event was thoroughly enjoyed and a good first way for the mentors and mentees to get to know each other. At the end of the session the mentors agreed with the mentees the next time they would meet, which was important to ensure that they will have ongoing contact. Overall it was a success!
Helena Whitley and Nele Gewert, Lead Peer Mentors from the Psychology Department.
Computer Science Mentor/Mentee Events
This academic year saw a couple of activities for both mentors and mentees. The welcome week peer mentoring event was the biggest of them all. Being the first event, we used it as an opportunity to formally introduce the peer mentoring scheme to the freshers and for everyone to get to know each other. The highlight of it all was seeing everyone chatting and having fun while devouring slice after slice of Domino’s pizza. Groups of mentors and mentees set out afterwards for a crypto hunt around campus.
We held another rather small event in November to talk about student housing. We thought it would be informative and helpful as that was the main issue of discussion amongst students then. Snacks and tea were served, and mentors were available to answer questions about housing and share their own experiences.
Finally, we decided to round-off things by having one final lunch at the start of semester 2 with everyone and mainly as an opportunity to advertise the scheme to prospective peer mentors. Everyone had a quick Domino’s pizza lunch –thanks to the department and was a chance for mentors and mentees to catch up in person. The events were all successful and fun as mentors and mentees interacted with one another.
Imran Iss-Dutse and Hester Dent, Lead Peer Mentors in the Department of Computer Science
PAL leaders at the University of Bath have the opportunity to further enhance their skills and knowledge of PAL through attending regional development workshops. Since 2013/14, the University of Bath Students' Union has been working together with the University of Bristol and University of the West of England (UWE) to deliver bespoke workshops throughout the year for PAL/PASS leaders across the three institutions. Past workshops have included the following themes:
- Increasing and maximising attendance
- Introducing creativity into PAL/PASS sessions
- PAL leader employability
The Community Awards 2018 evening was held in the beautiful Victoria Art Gallery, Bath on Thursday 19 April. Staff and students from a range of Advice and Support groups came together to celebrate the work our volunteers do to enhance the University of Bath community.
During the evening awards were given to student Hall Reps, Diversity and Support Groups, PAL Leaders and Peer Mentors.
In his opening comments at the awards evening, Ben Palmer, the SU Community Officer, highlighted the fact that support on a peer to peer level is so crucial and often underestimated. He praised the attendees saying that they all really are the front line in making other students feel welcome, connected and supported.
Congratulations to all the wonderful winners from the Community Awards 2018!
Highly commended PAL Scheme of the Year: Computer Science
PAL Scheme of the Year: Psychology
Highly commended PAL Leader of the Year: Sophia Yeh from Pharmacy
PAL Leaders of the Year: Beth Otter & Ashley Ball from Sport and Social Sciences
Outstanding Contribution to Peer Assisted Learning: Rafaella Antoniou, Lyudmil Bozadzhiev, Carys Worsley, Emma Arnott & Megan Ng
Highly commended Peer Mentor of the Year: Hanne Arts & Katie Anderson from Psychology
Peer mentor of the Year: Soraya Rosidi from Electrical Engineering
Highly commended Lead Peer Mentors of the Year: Rob Douglas from Pharmacy
Lead Peer Mentors of the Year: Jigna Parmar & Aliza Exelby from Computer Science
Fabio Nemetz with the Computer Science PAL Leaders and Lead Peer Mentors
Ian Fairholm with the Psychology PAL Leaders, and Senior PAL Leaders
Soraya Rosidi, Peer Mentor of the Year
Four of the Senior PAL Leaders with Annika Theilgaard
On Wednesday 9 May 2018, students and staff gathered to celebrate the success of the Postgraduate Peer Mentoring schemes in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and Faculty of Engineering & Design. Hosted in the Doctoral Commons, the event was a fantastic opportunity to recognise the vital support peer mentors provide to new doctoral and postgraduate taught students with the transition to postgraduate study at Bath.
It was great to see students and staff sharing their thoughts and experiences of the schemes in these two faculties, run in partnership with The SU Peer Support team and the Doctoral College. Postgraduate peer mentors received a certificate in recognition of the time and effort they have put into supporting mentees this academic year.
The event was also attended by many mentees. Chunhua Chen is a second year PhD student in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences. She spoke of how her mentor helped her to find accommodation, provided advice about PhD study and useful tips for her new life in Bath. Chunhua said she felt so lucky to have a mentor and would recommend the mentoring scheme to any new PhD students.
Professor Jeremy Bradshaw, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International & Doctoral), was there to show his appreciation of the schemes. In his speech he highlighted the significant expansion of peer support schemes for our students and that Bath is leading in the sector in terms of our postgraduate peer-to-peer provision
Liam Emery, SU Postgraduate Officer and Dr Eleanor Parker, Doctoral Engagement Manager, Doctoral College both commented that it was great to see the faculties, The SU and the Doctoral College working in partnership to support and celebrate the success of the mentoring scheme.
Liam Emery said “I hope the scheme can be expanded as time goes on, so that more doctoral students can benefit from having a mentor when they arrive at the University.”
Dr Eleanor Parker also said “The Doctoral College is committed to supporting our doctoral community at all stages of their research and peer mentors play a vital role in supporting transition for our new students.”