Peer academic coaches: A front line service of the UOW Learning Coop

Ms Melissa Zaccagnini1, Ms Melissa Stephen1

1University Of Wollongong, Australia

UOW Learning Coop is a strategic partnership formed by the diverse academic support providers within the DVC (A) Portfolio at the University of Wollongong to deliver their services in a more cohesive manner, in an accessible co located space. The Peer Academic Coaches (PACs) role was created as a “front of house” for this service. The PACs are a team of trained, senior students who provide one-to-one peer support on a range of academic topics, and who work collaboratively with students to develop their independent learning skills, in order to discover solutions to the everyday challenges they face while studying at UOW. These students play a vital triage role for staff services, supporting students directly to build their academic confidence and use of available online resources before referring them to key UOW staff. In the first semester of 2017, PACs were available for 50 hours of service per week across 5 onshore UOW campuses. The team of 19 PACs represent all five Faculties. One of the key factors in the success of the PAC service has been the development of a comprehensive responsible referrals training package, ensuring that the PAC team are able to direct students to key institutional resources. This package has now been shared with a number of other UOW peer based programs to encourage comprehensive knowledge of and communication about services that are integral to students. This presentation will share an overview of the development of the PAC role at UOW since 2015, the responsible referrals package and strategies for ensuring the PACs continuously develop their ability to communicate key information to the students they serve.


Melissa Stephen is the Peer Learning Coordinator and Associate Head of the National Centre for PASS at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Melissa has been involved in a variety of Peer Learning Programs in a diverse range of roles, firstly as a student and now as a full time staff member.



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