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About Peer Assisted Learning Strategies

Overview

PALS is a version of classwide peer tutoring. PALS combines proven instructional principles and practices and peer mediation so that research-based reading and math activities are effective, feasible, and enjoyable. Teachers identify which children require help on specific skills and who the most appropriate children are to help other children learn those skills. Using this information, teachers pair students in the class, so that partners work simultaneously and productively on different activities that address the problems they are experiencing. Pairs are changed regularly and all students have the opportunity to be "coaches" and "players" over a period of time as students work on a variety of skills.

PALS creates pairs in a classroom, each of which is geared to the individual student's needs, instead of a single, teacher-directed activity that may end up addressing the problems of only a few children. The strategy also creates opportunities for a teacher to circulate in the class, observe students, and provide individual remedial lessons.

PALS is designed to complement, not replace, existing reading and math curriculum. PALS is a 25 to 35 minute activity implemented 2 to 4 times a week.

 

Implementation

PALS is an affordable program for public schools. We recommend a one-day training workshop at your site. Depending on the workshop you choose, the presenter's fee ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 plus travel expenses. All workshop participants need a PALS teacher's manual which can be purchased from Vanderbilt University prior to the training workshop. Follow-up training is available.

Effectiveness

Repeated evaluations of PALS Reading and PALS Math indicate that high-achieving, average-achieving, and low-achieving students, and students with learning disabilities make greater progress in PALS classrooms than their counterparts in typically structured classrooms. PALS Reading and PALS Math have been approved by the U.S. Department of Education's Program Effectiveness Panel as an effective educational practice.

PALS was developed by Doug Fuchs Ph.D., and Lynn Fuchs, Ph.D., professors of special education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigators. Research reporting the benefits of PALS has been widely published in journals such as the Journal of Educational Psychology, American Educational Research Journal, Elementary School Journal, Reading Research Quarterly, Exceptional Children, Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, Journal of Learning Disabilities, School Psychology Quarterly, and School Psychology Review.

Doug Fuchs, Ph.D.

Doug Fuchs, Ph.D.

Doug Fuchs,
co-developer of K-PALS, tells how K-PALS activities are developed and tested so that all children can improve their reading skills.
Listen to Doug:

Lynn Fuchs, Ph.D.

Lynn Fuchs

Lynn Fuchs,
co-developer of K-PALS
, explains that young children can be effective peer tutors for reading instruction.
Listen to Lynn:

Large Scale Implementation: A Case Study

The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and Researchers at Queen's University in Kingston discuss their collaboration to develop a program to determine if PALS could be effectively utilized to promote literacy achievement and build sustainable teacher expertise. Launch the video to hear their success story.

Staff And Trainers

It takes a lot of dedicated and hardworking professional staff and trainers for PALS to function.

Contact information for PALS staff and trainers