What is SI-PASS?
SI-PASS, an educational model developed in the 1970s by Deanna Martin at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), is based on collaborative learning. The students meet regularly in small study groups with 5 to 15 participants under the leadership of an older student who has previously taken the course and who acts as a role model and guide, but not as a teacher.
The SI Leader’s task is to help the students to sort out, and shed light on, the components of the course that are experienced as difficult, to act as the leader of exercises and moderator in discussions to address and solve these difficult components. The SI Leader is to help the students to find answers to their questions together and to work effectively and purposefully in the group. In order to carry out these tasks, SI Leaders take a special two-day course in SI strategies and leadership.
How widespread is SI-PASS?
The programme has spread from the USA to many parts of the English-speaking world. The model has been used in Sweden since 1993 and is now established at most Swedish higher education institutions. In addition to the International Centre for SI at UMKC, there are national education and development centres in Canada (University of Guelph), South Africa (Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth), Australia (University of Wollongong) and Sweden, with responsibility for Europe (Lund University).
The programme is called SI (Supplemental Instruction) in countries such as the USA, Canada and South Africa, PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) at certain higher education institutions in the UK and Australia, and PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) at other institutions. In Sweden, the term SI is used together with the British name, PASS.
SI-PASS – how are groups composed?
A large body of research shows that SI-PASS is a very effective tool for improving students’ study results. It is important to note that SI-PASS is not a support programme. It is not aimed specifically at weak students, but is based on groups being as diverse as possible. Research shows that the most effective group, in which all members gain most, is a combination of students with different levels of proficiency. SI-PASS is therefore aimed at all students.