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PASS for First Year Students


All first year students based in the School of Computer Science are welcome to take advantage of the PASS scheme. At the start of the academic year, you will be allocated to a PASS group led by three senior students. Your group will meet once a week, for an informal tutorial session, at which you can raise any questions or concerns you may have about your course or student life in general.

Information about the PASS group you have been allocated to, including when and where it meets, is available via Arcade in the usual way. The first session will be in week 2 of semester 1.

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where are PASS sessions held?

PASS sessions are run during most weeks during term-time. Notices will go up around the teaching areas to tell you which group you are in and when and where you will meet. (You can also check the UG timetable for the meeting times.) Your group will be allocated to one of the rooms booked for the PASS sessions (usually IT407 and IT406 in the IT building, and G33, LF15, LF17, and the Collabs in the Kilburn building).

The room your group is in may have to change after reading week, and your meeting time will change between semesters.

You are welcome to change the time and/or place you meet as long as all of your group agrees. Please discuss this with your PASS leaders. In the past, some groups have met in nearby coffee shops and even the local pub.

Who are my PASS leaders?

PASS leaders are second and third year students who have volunteered to give up some of their time to help run PASS sessions. Each PASS group is led by two to four students. At least one of them should be on a similar programme to you.

What happens at a typical PASS session?

PASS sessions are there to help you, so please feel free to ask about anything (academic, or just about being a student in Manchester). To help with picking some academic topics you might want to work through, sheets for various course units are supplied on the Moodle page for PASS.

The group as a whole will work through any problems, suggesting answers and discussing the issues raised. The PASS leader will guide this process, but you shouldn't expect your PASS leader to give you the correct answers every time. The job of a PASS leader is not to "teach" or lay down the law, but to help the group as a whole work through the material.

If no one in the group has difficulties with the set exercises, or time remains after you have worked through the sheet, then PASS leaders will typically throw the session open to any general questions group members may have.

What should I do to prepare for PASS?

The best way to prepare for a PASS session is to think in advance about whether there's anything you'd like to be covered in your next PASS session. Have a look at the sheets available from Moodle to check your understanding of the topics you're currently studying. You can also think back over the work you have completed during the previous week, and make a note of any more general questions you may want to bring to the PASS session.

I have noticed PASS on Moodle; what is it, and how do I participate?

For those who don't recognise the name, Moodle is an online forum for course discussion. PASS is incorporated within the Moodle areas for each course unit, for related discussions. Each PASS forum aims to provide a relaxed environment that is reflective of PASS ethos, and where students can discuss their course worries with PASS Leaders. Anyone can post - simply log on using your standard username and password, go to your course unit and select "PASS general discussion".

Where can I get the PASS exercise sheets from?

PASS sheets are available from thePASS section of Moodle. You can look at them there, and from time to time your PASS leaders may bring printed copies to the session.

What questions can I ask in a PASS session?

You are welcome to ask questions about any aspect of your courses at PASS sessions, though you should not expect your PASS leader to be an Oracle and able to give definitive answers on any topic. You can expect them to give advice on how to find the answers you are looking for, however. You may also find that other members of your group are able to answer your questions.

Should you be struggling on a particular topic there are now resources on Moodle (for specific Courses) that can be printed and used in PASS sessions - according to your groups needs. Should you wish to discuss different material, simply agree as a group and advise your PASS Leader/s of the online questions you wish to focus on. You should give everyone a week or so to look at the new material before discussing it. (If your whole group can't agree, your leaders may be able to temporarily split the group, or share the work with another group.)

Can I change to another PASS group?

You are welcome to change your PASS group at any time, either for a single session or permanently. You do not need to give any reason for changing your group, though you should check that the leaders of the group you wish to join are happy to include you before you make any moves.

Why is a record of attendance taken at PASS sessions?

Your attendance at PASS sessions will be recorded by your PASS leaders unless you specifically request them not to. We keep records of attendance at PASS purely to allow us to assess the impact of the scheme on the academic performance of our students. (For example, from the figures for the 2001/2002 session, we produced a graph showing how attendance at PASS sessions correlates with first-year performance overall and with the marks for the Java course-units.) Details of your attendance will be kept strictly confidential and will not be made available to staff members outside the PASS scheme. Nor will they be used to assess the performance of individual students.

I understand everything I'm being asked to do on my course units. Why should I go to PASS?

You may still find it useful to attend PASS sessions even if you find most of your work easy. There may be other people there who do not have such a firm understanding of the material being studied who you may be able to help. This in turn will strengthen your own grasp of the subjects covered. There is no better way to gain a deep understanding of a subject than by trying to help other people to learn about it, too.

If you have further questions about the scheme, please contact Andrea Schalk