Degree Name

Bachelor of Education - Honours


Faculty of Education


The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of first year Systemic Anatomy students taking part in the Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) at the University of Wollongong. The aim was to develop an understanding of why students choose to attend PASS, their expectations of the PASS program and the degree to which these expectations were met.

PASS was introduced to the University of Wollongong by Student Services in 2001 and is now offered for a number of high-risk subjects. In these subjects there are typically high failure rates, with over twenty-five percent of students receiving a Fail or Pass Conceded grade. PASS is offered to all students enrolled in a subject, however as the program is voluntary, not all students will take up the opportunity to attend. This study focussed on students attending PASS for Systemic Anatomy.

This study was completed using a case study approach. Data were collected using pre-questionnaires, post-questionnaires, observations and focus group interviews in order to gain a deeper understanding of the expectations and experiences of students attending PASS for Systemic Anatomy. Fifty-one first year Systemic Anatomy students participated in the study, with nine of those students taking part in the focus group interviews. A statistical analysis of the data indicated that a positive relationship existed between final subject grades and the number of PASS sessions attended.

The findings indicate that students attend PASS for a variety of reasons. The most significant of these involved opportunities to develop greater understanding of the subject matter and to gain knowledge of, and practice in effective methods for studying Systemic Anatomy. In relation to the expectations of the case study group, it was revealed that students had high academic, personal and social expectations of the PASS program. Overall, student expectations focussed on positive academic outcomes such as increased understanding of the subject matter and an awareness of effective techniques for studying Systemic Anatomy successfully. The results indicate that students had opportunities for a wide variety of experiences and most participants agreed that attending PASS assisted in their academic development.

A number of recommendations have been made by the researcher to assist students in overcoming barriers to attendance, to ensure students have more realistic expectations of the program and to improve the content and structure of PASS for Systemic Anatomy at UOW. Recommendations for future research into PASS have also been made.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.