Learning And Leading: My Peer-Assisted Learning Journey

It is said that in helping others, we grow ourselves too. Marissa Tay’s journey in the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) programme is a reflection of that. When she first started her BSc (Hons) in Economics & Finance programme, her apprehensiveness towards tough subjects like Economics and Mathematics drove her to sign up for the PAL programme – a programme for SIM students that fosters peer learning through facilitated discussions.

2 Dec 2019

5 mins read



By Diyanah Syafiqah

It is said that in helping others, we grow ourselves too. Marissa Tay's journey in the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) programme is a reflection of that. When she first started her BSc (Hons) in Economics & Finance programme, her apprehensiveness towards tough subjects like Economics and Mathematics drove her to sign up for the PAL programme - a programme for SIM students that fosters peer learning through facilitated discussions.

With each session, her confidence in approaching these subjects grew and her grades saw tangible improvements. Noting her significant progress, she felt inspired to repay the guidance she had received by signing up as a PAL leader. She reflects on some life-altering lessons she has learned along the way.

#Empathy Is Key
In PAL, the two magical words reiterated often are ‘empathy' and ‘facilitate'. These words become the guiding posts behind PAL sessions, which are essentially about guiding the learners to learn independently.

Having gone through the whole PAL journey as both a learner and leader, I can empathise with the learners.

One of the most common struggles students face is not knowing where to begin when we're faced with a seemingly complex question. Because I've been in their position, I know that a simple probe like getting them to identify keywords would go a long way. It gets them to dig deep into the question and facilitate the discussion among them.

I see this spilling over to other areas of my life. In instances where there is an exchange of ideas among my peers or colleagues, I would volunteer to mediate these discussions by listening to all parties and understanding the basis behind their arguments in order to reach a compromise.

Developing and practising empathy helps me to understand the struggles of others and the course of action to take to benefit everyone.  


As a senior PAL leader, my responsibilities include coaching the junior PAL leaders by providing tips to better facilitate their respective sessions.

#The Importance Of Non-Verbal Cues In Communication
Recognising the nuances of communication like non-verbal cues has made me a better communicator - which is a skill I can carry with me, even after graduation.

With experience, I am able to read the room and learners more accurately which allows me to assess what to do. If I spot restlessness in a person after observing them, or seeing someone as being consistently hooked on their electronic devices or is unwilling to participate in discussions - I am able to gather their attention, utilise the right words and tonality to convey the message to them.

This made me more aware of the profound effect one has on others and how to communicate effectively.


The senior PAL Leaders had the privilege in designing and conducting a workshop on non-verbal cues for the junior PAL Leaders. The whole preparation spanned across two months.

#Don't Shy Away From Hard Work
Behind every smooth running PAL session or a student who has achieved success, is the sheer effort that others may not be aware of. It all boils down to how hard one is willing to work in order to achieve a desired outcome.

Coming into my final year and with the added responsibilities that comes with the senior PAL Leader role, I have to put in extra hours that I don't fall short of my own revision time.

It's also heartwarming to see this reflected in the learners. I see them taking their learning and revision beyond the PAL sessions by forming their own study groups.


Receiving certificate of appreciation from Ms Peggy Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, SIM GE, at PAL Appreciation Lunch 2019.

The PAL experience has been the single most enriching experience in my university life. It may sound like cliché but it is you who shape your own student experience accordingly - whether it's to stay ahead in your academic progress or to seek out meaningful experiences which help you to grow.

Inspired by Marissa's story? Find out more about the SIM Peer-Assisted Learning Programme here.