Why should I enroll in a PAL class?

A group discussion

Students should take a PAL to optimize their performance in the course, enhance their confidence with the material, and engage with other students.

Data collected over 5 years indicate that students opting into PALs earn a 15% “bump” in their course grade and increase their likelihood of passing the course on the first try (data controlled for all mitigating factors).  In general, math and science courses are highly rigorous and very sequenced (that is, students must successfully complete the first course in the series to move on to the second, etc.). The courses targeted by the PAL program are gatekeeper courses with historic failure rates between 40-60% (that is, 40-60% of students earned grades that prevented the student from progressing to the next course). 

Chart depicting increased course grades for students in PAL program

Repeating a course is costly!  Your progression to a degree may be delayed, and you may be prevented from taking courses in your major if you fail to complete the pre-requisite, and because most of these courses are impacted (insufficient seats to meet demand), you may not be able to repeat the class right away. 

In addition to having an impact on student performance, PALs also improve problem-solving skills, boost student confidence, create a sense of community and support among students, and promote effective study techniques – that is, PALs encourage students to build the foundation for future success.

How to Enroll in a PAL

You can go into your Student Center to search the class schedule for the PAL courses. View the Spring 2017 schedule here. The following are the relationships between the original course and the PAL.

Lecture course

PAL class

Chem 4


Chem 1A


Chem 1B


Math 29


Math 30


Math 31


Math 32

NSM 96 (Fall 16 only; NSM 12J thereafter)

BIO 22


BIO 121


BIO 131

BIO 131A

What students have said about being in the PAL Program:

“…the PAL was probably the major reason why I am doing well in Calculus, because we practice what we learn instead of just taking notes. This class was very beneficial to me.”
Chart depicting students stating that PAL increased problem solving skills “Sometimes you learn more from your peers than a professor trying to assist 80 students at once…PAL was really, really helpful for my chemistry class.”

“PAL shows you different perspectives and allows you to question freely without judgment.”

“Being able to speak out my thoughts on concepts allowed me to better understand how the processes actually occur”

“More brains is better than one – sometimes I wouldn’t see/understand a concept someone else did and vice versa. This helped a lot in class”

“It helped me see different ways other students learn and remember information, which helped my study habits”

“Discussing out loud and sharing ideas helps cement my understanding of concepts”

“PAL helped, because each student had a slightly different approach on solving problems, making it easier to learn the concepts.”
Chart depicting students in PAL program having increased exam confidence
"The PAL Program was very helpful to me because it forced me into a new type of learning environment. Working with other students helped me become more comfortable working with my peers which immensely helped when it came time for studying for the final. Being a more solitary person, this was a challenge which ended up with positive results for me."