- The Definition of Peer Assisted Learning Strategy (PALS)
Topping inform that Peer-Assisted Learning is “the acquisition of knowledge and skill through active helping and supporting among status equals or matched companions”. In his book is about a practical guide for teachers to plan and effectively implement different kinds of PAL in any area of the curriculum, in a way which integrates with and complements direct teaching by professionals.
Then, Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathers and Martinez emphasize that PALS is utilized as an element of effective instruction that focus on working with partners which provides opportunities to respond and receive corrective feedback, increases reading skills, especially opportunities for positive social interactions.
PALS Reading is a structured, peer-mediated reading activity appropriate for students in preschool through grade 6 and high school. All students in a class are divided into pairs. Each member of the pair takes turns being coach and reader and are awarded points for good reading and coaching. As the reader reads aloud, the coach listens and provides corrective feedback. PALS does not require special reading material. Teachers may use library books or short stories.
According to Delquadri et.al states that Peer-Assisted Learning Strategy (PALS) is a reciprocal class wide peer-tutoring strategy with different grade level. In addition, Topping stressed that peer tutoring is characterized by specific role taking. In other words, someone fulfils the role of tutor while another or others take the role of tutee.
Meanwhile, Forman and Cazden argued that, for peer tutoring to occur, there needs to be a difference in knowledge between two individuals, so that the more knowledgeable individual can act as tutor to the less knowledgeable. When knowledge is equal or ‘not intentionally unequal’, equal-status collaboration may be expected.
Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) involves children in school consciously assisting others to learn, and in so doing learning more effectively themselves. It means that Peer-Assisted Learning is designed to be accessible and useful to teachers and to those who employ, train, support, consult with, and evaluate them.
Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) is a peer-tutoring instructional program that supplements the reading curriculum. Pairs of students work together on reading activities intended to improve reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. Students in the pairs who alternately take on the roles of tutor and tutee read aloud, listen to their partner read, and provide feedback during various structured activities.
Based on all of statements above, the writer concludes that PALS is reading strategy that designed to improve and develop the reading skill of the weaker reader. It involves people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves. It also focuses on teaching students a set of skill strategies that can be used to help students understand any text they read.
- The Principles of Peer Assisted Learning Strategy (PALS)
PALS consists of a set of structured activities which students are trained to implement with their partners. Teacher use a set of brief scripted lessons to train all students. The training lessons for each activity last 30 to 60 min per session and take 2 to 4 weeks to implement. Each week, teachers incorporate three 35-minute PALS sessions into their allocated reading time, implementing PALS with all children in their classes. Teachers begin by conducting seven lessons on how to implement PALS.
There are three activities in PALS session, as follows:
a. The first activity in every PALS session is Partner Reading. Each students reads connected text aloud for 5 minutes, for a total of 10 minutes. The higher performing student reads first; the lower performing student rereads the same material.
b. The second PALS activity, Paragraph Shrinking, is designed to develop comprehension through summarize and main idea identification. Continuing to read subsequent sections of text, students read orally one paragraph at a time, stopping to identify its main idea. Tutors guide the identification of the main idea by asking readers to identify who or what the paragraph is mainly about and the most important thing about the who or what. After 5 minutes, students switch roles.
c. The last activity is Prediction Relay. It extends Paragraph Shrinking to larger chunks of text and requires students to formulate and check predictions. Prediction Relay comprises five steps. The reader makes a prediction about what will be learned on the next half-page; reads the half-page aloud while the tutor corrects errors, (dis)confirms the prediction, and summarizes the main idea. After 5 minutes, students switch roles.
- The Advantages of Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS)
There are some points of the advantages of peer assisted learning strategy below:
a. It allows students to work and interact independently without the necessary guidance of the teacher, thus promoting learner independence.
b. It allows teacher time to work with one or two pairs while the other students continue working.
c. It recognizes the old maxim that ‘two heads are better than one’ and in cooperation helps the classroom to become a more relaxed and friendly place.
d. It is relatively quick and easy to organize.
- The Disadvantages of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategy
There are some disadvantages of peer assisted learning strategy, here are:
a. Pair-works is frequently very noisy and some teachers and students dislike this.
b. Students in pairs can veer away from the point of an exercise, taking about something else completely, often in their first language.
c. It is not always popular with students, many of whom feel they would rather relate to the teacher as individuals than interact with another learner who may be just as linguistically weak as they are.
d. The actual choice of paired partner can be problematic, especially if students frequently find themselves working with someone they are not keen on.