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U:PASS is based on the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program developed at the University of Missouri (Kansas City) in 1973. Since its development, SI has spread to over 30 countries with over 250,000 students around the world attending classes.
Research from other universities across Australia and the world indicates that students attending 10 or more sessions in a semester gain significantly higher marks than students who do not attend at all. Subjects targeted by the U:PASS program are known as particularly difficult; in recent years the average mark achieved by students attending U:PASS has been 12-15% higher than those who not attending.
In Australia, SI programs are usually known as PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) or PAL (Peer Assisted Learning). These programs have been successfully implemented in a number of Australian universities including the University of Melbourne, the University of Wollongong, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University.
The U:PASS program employs cooperative learning methods, which encourage the use of small groups of students who collaborate in order to improve their own learning skills as well as the skills of others. These methods are based on various theoretical perspectives including behavioural learning theory, social interdependence theory and cognitive-developmental theory. For a review, see Johnson, Johnson and Stanne (2000) (opens an external site).