Welcome to PAL!
What is it?
Chemistry homework got you down? Is your essay for Dr. Verdun not making any sense? Have you been trying to decipher your calculus textbook for hours? If so, never fear! Your friendly neighborhood PAL is here! Every PAL, or tutor in the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) program, can offer you and your friends peer based academic help in a variety of subjects and skills areas so that you don’t have to struggle against your assignments any longer!
Students can have the utmost confidence in their PAL because every tutor is an outstanding student and has excelled in his or her assigned subject area. After all, the PAL program was designed to give students who have mastered a specific subject or skill the opportunity to spread their knowledge and help those who may be struggling, confused, or just in need of an extra pair of eyes. Peer tutors serve as instructors, advisers, motivators, guides, reviewers, and editors, as well as people you can bounce your ideas off of. Every PAL can give you specialized information on a topic down to specific courses and professors because they’ve been there! And as the acronym suggests, each PAL is friendly and willing to lend a hand to a peer in need.
What does it offer?
The program boasts PALs who can help you with virtually any subject. These include Writing, Oral Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, Accounting, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Information Technology Leadership, Logic, Mathematics (General and Probability & Statistics), the Modern Languages (French, German, and Spanish, among others), Physics, Psychology, and Sociology. Certain subjects also offer specific instruction for particular classes. For instance, Chemistry is currently broken down into four sections: Chemistry 101, Chemistry 160, Chemistry 260, and Organic Chemistry. The schedules for each of these classes and all subjects are posted at the beginning of each semester. Use the schedules to check when the PAL you need will be available.
When and where can I find it?
Tutors are available every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night throughout the year from 7 to 9 p.m.
Official PAL headquarters moved from the fourth floor of Old Main to the ground floor of Alex Hall for the 2010/2011 academic year, making the hike up a lot less strenuous! Every student can use his or her swipe to enter the ground floor of Alex (all residents of the hall swipe an additional time to access the upper floors). These new facilities boast a computer lab/office, two large meeting rooms, and a lounge area where students can wait or hang out. Modern Language tutors can be found in the Language Lab (Burnett 207) and ITL tutors can be found in the Tech Center (Tek 204) at the same nights and times.
This service is free to all W&J students and continues to grow to meet the needs of students in every discipline. Feel free to stop by to get help for your lab reports, homework problems, essays, and more!
A Typical Night at PAL
Depending on the time, the night of the week, and the time of the year, you could walk into two very different scenes in the PAL office. You’ll either find students huddled around the PAL tutors trying to absorb as much information as possible from an impromptu lesson or you’ll find the PAL tutors huddled around someone’s laptop watching YouTube videos. The scene you find all depends on the amount of traffic coming through the office doors.
If a lot of people need help with a subject because their Biology test is the next day or a Psychology report is due tomorrow, the office will be packed! Students may have to sit on the floor while their tutor takes to the dry erase boards to explain a certain theory or equation. Tons of people mean tons of energy and a loud, boisterous atmosphere as students and PALs alike discuss problems and concepts.
The energy doesn’t die down once our patrons leave the office, however. PALs have to find some way to occupy their time in between tutoring sessions and we usually turn to our own homework or join together to have fun. When traffic dies down, many of us gather around a computer and surf the internet, watch videos, and share stories and jokes. Every night, you can find a different group dynamic amongst PALs during the slow times: quiet and studious or riddled with laughter, and even a combination of the two!
It doesn’t matter which scene you walk into, you will always find someone willing to help. A PAL will either wave you over to his or her station to join a group or spring up from watching to latest YouTube sensation to meet you for help. Either way, you can be sure to find a casual, enjoyable atmosphere filled your helpful, friendly PALs!
The Other Side of the Table: A PAL's Perspective
Narrative written by Shaunna Ballard, based on an interview with Michael Hill ’11 on December 2, 2010
I became a PAL tutor for Psychology 215 because I need the money so I thought to myself, “Why not?” Obviously, the correct answer is that I became a PAL tutor out of the goodness of my heart and to help other students and better society. And after working here all semester it turns out that I actually really do like helping people.
I remember what it was like when I needed help with 215 last year so I think that this program is a delightful opportunity for students to get help if they need it. And it’s also good for me too because I get to brush up on different psych concepts that will help prepare me for my advanced lab in the spring. It’s nice to be able to help my friends while helping myself out. And that really is my favorite part about working for PAL---helping my friends.
Sometimes I’ll even hold some “office hours” in my room if a big group of people need help. If there’s something big due for 215, people will just come over to my place and we’ll have a big “sesh,” just one big study session. They’re usually a lot of fun because it’s a really relaxed environment, you know? We’re all just friends helping each other out.
But, you know, sometimes I may not be able to help. I just might not know the answer. This, of course, is rare because I’m such a brilliant man, but I’ll always try to steer them in the right direction and help if I’m knowledgeable enough. It’s always great to hear that you helped someone out and it’s even better when they say, “Thanks a lot! You’re the best!”
Come Down and Join Us!
Join us Sunday through Thursday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Burnett Center room 207 for modern languages, the Tech Center room 204 for ITL, and in Alex Hall for all of your other tutoring needs! Click to use the map on the left to find us.
Check the schedule online to see what subjects are being taught on which nights and to see which of your PALs are on duty. Click the links to check the schedules:
If you have any questions regarding the Peer-Assisted Learning program or just want to learn more, please feel free to contact Dean Sloat, the Associate Dean for Assessment and New Initiatives, at either email@example.com or 724-250-3408 or Doree Baumgart, the faculty secretary for the Academic Dean, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-503-1001, Ext. 6031.
Become a PAL
Every spring, the PAL webpage posts a link to PAL applications. If you would like to become a tutor, fill one out with information about yourself, the subject(s) you would be interested in tutoring for, and any and all relevant coursework that pertains to said subject(s). The application will give you detailed instructions on what to include and when to submit it. PAL makes its decisions before the end of each spring semester so look out for a reply! If you’re dedicated to math, writing, biology, French, or any other subject, we hope to hear from you!
All photos taken by Shaunna Ballard. The campus map is the property of Washington & Jefferson College.