P.A.S.S. for Science

What is PASS?

Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) is a free and voluntary student centered learning program. It is designed to help students succeed in select science courses that have been identified as foundational for chemistry or biology majors, as well as for programs in the health professions. Success in these courses is often dependent on a students ability to develop a strong understanding of the material in order to promote success in higher-level courses. It has various differences than typical drop-in tutoring and national research shows that students who consistently attend PASS sessions achieve higher grades in the course and are less likely to withdraw. It is based on the internationally recognized program called Supplemental Instruction, created by Dr. Deanna Martin at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1973.

What can it do?

  • Reinforce your understanding of difficult course content
  • Improve ones ability to study more effectively
  • Develop stronger critical thinking skills
  • Encourage teamwork skills

How does it work?

Peer leaders are faculty recommended students who have recently taken the course. In addition, they have good communication and interpersonal skills as well as having participated in a training program on approaches to helping students succeed. These leaders do not teach content. In addition, they do not assist with individual homework questions like in drop-in tutoring. Rather, they facilitate weekly review sessions that help students reach a deeper understanding of what has already been taught. They guide students through the course material and facilitate student learning through planned activities and discussion. This format is largely determined by the peer leader.

COCC has two types of PASS tutoring: embedded and non-embedded. In the embedded style, tutors attend every lecture with the students in order to develop a relationship with the class and to stay in tuned with the difficulties encountered by the course. In the non-embedded style, tutors are engaged with the instructor but do not attend class on a weekly basis. Instead, they will visit class every few weeks as well as interact regularly with students on Canvas. Both programs use the same peer-facilitated study sessions outside of class.

Who attends?

It is open to all students studying in the selected course who want to improve their understanding of the material. Each leader often facilitates two one-hour sessions per week. Students do not need to sign up ahead of time to attend and can attend as many sessions as they want. Students are also welcome to attend drop-in tutoring in addition to PASS sessions. Drop-in is available at select hours in the science building in room 130.


Course and Instructor



PASS Leader


Session Times and Locations