Peer learning occurs when students are learning from each other. It differs from collaborative learning in that during periods of collaborative learning, students are learning alongside each other. On the other hand, peer learning allows students to learn from one another. It is not defined by a single instructional strategy, but any activity in which students are able to explain their ideas and give each other feedback. In addition to content mastery, peer learning aids in the development of interpersonal, communication, and critical thinking skills.
Possible Instructional Uses:
- Pair students based on their understanding of the material. Faster learners can take on the role of explaining the material to students who need more time. Then, they should switch so all students have the opportunity to explain the material in their own words.
- Utilize a jigsaw technique in which a student or groups are assigned a topic and have to teach the rest of the class that topic. Rotate instructional time for all students or groups until all subtopics have been taught.
- After students have taught a topic to their peers, make sure they are evaluated on the clarity of their instruction using survey software such as Qualtrics.
WCU Supported Tools:
Tips for using Peer Learning:
- Be sure to plan out all logistics beforehand, such as group sizes and the makeup of students within each group (NYU, n.d.).
- Align peer learning activities to course learning objectives, so students understand the significance of the activity. To that end, be upfront about how students will be assessed during and after the peer learning activity (Boud, Cohen, & Sampson, n.d.).
- Remember that peer learning is not a substitute for good teaching, but an addition to a range of teaching and learning activities (Boud, Cohen, & Sampson, 2002).
Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (n.d.). Peer learning and assessment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 24(4), 413-426.
Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (2002). Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning From & With Each Other. London, UK: Kogan Page Limited.
NYU. (n.d.). Peer instruction or the jigsaw classroom. Retrieved from https://www.nyu.edu/faculty/teaching-and-learning-resources/strategies-for-teaching-with-tech/best-practices-active-learning/active-learning-techniques/techniques-4.html