Peer Assisted Study Sessions for the Development of Transferable Skills in Undergraduate Students from Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds

Kathy Tangalakis, Gill Best, Deanne Helena Hryciw

Abstract


Students from low-socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds are typically under-represented in Australian universities. At Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, there is an increased number of low SES students (20%), with a significant proportion of mature aged (Paramedicine) and “first in family” from immigrant communities (Biomedical Sciences). The aim of this study was to determine if students undertaking Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) in an anatomy and physiology subject in Paramedicine and Biomedical Sciences also developed study skills, time management skills, confidence in their ability to complete their studies and social networks. Evaluation surveys, consisting of nine questions with a Likert scale of 5, as well as two open questions were distributed at week 12 of semester. Students in both cohorts, who participated in PASS, improved their final grade in their respective subject and there was a reduction in failure rate. In addition, in both cohorts, students who attended PASS improved their confidence and believed the sessions provided them with important skills. For Paramedicine students, there was a statistical increase in their belief that the skills gained in PASS could be transferred to other subjects in their degree. Future studies should investigate if PASS improved progression and retention of these students.

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