What is peer learning and its significance?

In today’s scenario, with the development times, the way of teaching and learning has also been modified.

We are now adopting different frameworks and structures for the education of the Alpha generation (ie the current generation born between 2010 and 2024).

Peer learning is a potentially powerful way to share subject knowledge. It is usually done when the learning objectives are clear. Learning might be best facilitated when peers do things together, regularly reflecting on what they are learning. It is a process in which students learn from and with each other in formal and informal ways. We can also define it as a two-way process in which both peers learn something new from each other.

It includes various forms of activities such as role-playing, creating reward systems, filling knowledge gaps, etc., which are adopted to ensure successful learning. It is a process where upperclassmen and juniors or students of the same year form partnerships to help each other with course content and their personal concerns. In short, it helps build students’ organizational and interpersonal skills.

Peer learning often takes place in an informal setting where students learn a lot by explaining their ideas to others or participating in activities that broaden their horizons in learning from their peers. This mutual feedback and self-evaluation helps early learners flourish. Thus, it is evident that students play an active role in the learning process. When students play an active role, it creates a sense of enthusiasm, motivates and builds confidence in students as both gain deeper knowledge of the subject.

There are different types of peer learning techniques, such as peer interaction, peer response, peer collaboration, peer feedback, peer facilitation, etc. It is important to understand which type to use to achieve teaching goals. It is usually a targeted process in which a specific group of students is involved in the learning process. Peer-to-peer learning is not magic; it all depends on the goals to be achieved and the tools used to achieve the goals. Many studies have been conducted to identify the common stages used in the peer learning process.

The pre-foundation phase is important to understand the scope and type of value to be added to the subject being targeted. The second stage is establishing fundamental engagement, i.e. understanding the tools to be adopted to get things on track. The third phase would involve understanding how to keep peers engaged in the process and ultimately, how to achieve learning outcomes. Learning outcomes can be achieved when it is clear what learning method the educator will adopt.

Research shows that peer learning activities usually produce the following results for both mentor and teacher:

  • Team spirit and more supportive relationships;
  • Greater psychological well-being,
  • social competence,
  • Communication skills and self-esteem; and
  • Greater productivity in terms of improved learning outcomes.

In the scenarios for Covid-19, the way of teaching-learning has changed. Everything came in an online/blended mode where mutual learning techniques are encouraged. Few institutions like GITAM University have already adopted this new era of learning model by implementing blended learning in their curricula. This technique would indeed be fruitful in creating a strong foundation for future jobs, prioritizing collaboration and communication skills above all other soft skills. Peer-to-peer learning through technology-enabled tools helps students develop a better understanding of technology. This will indeed lead to the creation of qualified individuals who would be an asset to their organizations. Social presence (peers) plays a vital role in cognition. Therefore, the author calls upon the noble teaching fraternity to embrace and promote peer learning in their classrooms.

about the author

Author: Dr. Jeevanandam Jotheeswaran

dr. Jeevanandam Jotheeswaran is a dedicated, resourceful, goal-oriented educator and research professional with a firm commitment to the social and academic growth of the student fraternity. dr. Jeevanandam holds more than 50 certifications in various technologies and concepts. With over 20 years in industry and higher education, he has the right combination to serve at Edu Tech.

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