Peer learning is regarded as a differentiated education strategy-encompassing sweep of activities. It involves the sharing of ideas, experiences and knowledge among participants and it is way that helps in moving from independent to mutual learning. Practices of peer learning are often introduced in ad hoc way; however, it is yet to realize the potential of such type of learning. Peer learning can be formalized and in formalized that has its own benefits and drawbacks. This type of learning is considered as instrumental strategy for advanced students. In many Universities in Australia, peer learning is a well-established practice that helps students in learning and gaining knowledge in both formal and informal ways (Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015).
Some of the facts that are gaining importance in Universities are issues of faculty member development, professional accountability and enhancing the quality of higher education and concerning this, the concept of peer learning has evolved. Peer learning is a strategy that helps in enhancing personal control over practices of teaching by making improvement in personal development among members of faculty. Feasibility of peer-to-peer learning can be determined by five themes such as benefits of such learning to teachers and students, barriers to such learning, literature gap, opportunities and existing potential problems to teaching. It is indicated by the students of that model employed in such practice enables them to practice skills that would be useful in their future profession such as reflection communication, cooperation and independence.
Different types of peer learnings:
Collaborative group learning- This type of learning occurs in large group in peer to peer that involves students working in pairs or small groups with the purpose of discussing concepts or finding solution to any given problem. Variety of forms are involved in such types of learning such as active learning or quick learning. Collaborative learning comes with several benefit such as promotion of interaction among students and faculty, development of higher-level thinking and leadership skills, increase and enhancing the understanding of particular subjects from diverse perspectives. Increasing self-esteem, responsibility and retention of students is another benefit of such type of learning (Johnson et al., 2014). In order to ensure and facilitate communication and collaboration among group members, this type of learning make use of both resources and goal interdependence.
Dynamic group learning- The learning environment provided by dynamic group helps has a high likelihood of being succeed. This exhibit-varied independence among the participants with which of them in the group is striving for achieving common goals (Iier.org.au, 2017).
Formal group learning-In formal learning, students work in groups as asked or instructed by instructor for completing any particular assignment.Learning activities of group are defined and assigned to students to instructor and there is formation of heterogeneous group. Role of instructor is crucial in this type of learning as they are actively involved in monitoring and evaluating the performance of group (Gelbar et al., 2014). For the identification improvement of group, instructors ate encouraged to make reflection of participants interaction.
In formal group learning-Informal cooperative learning group involves formation of temporary, small and ad hoc groups of students who work together for brief time for answering questions and responding promptly to the instructors.
Contribution of peer-to-peer learning in promoting student independence:
One of the important benefits of peer-to-peer learning is providing students with an opportunity to encounter with perspective of greater diversity. Students from their peer along with just lecturers or instructor receive feedback. This helps them in gaining feedback from two source that increases their likelihood of working on improving their knowledge and gaining different ways to improve it.
Expansion and development of range of skills is another benefit to student from being engaged in peer learning along with development of skills such as problem solving and skills. This type of learning increases a sense of responsibilities by promoting independence learning and preparing them for professional workforce and reducing dependence on lecturers. An opportunity of diverse skill development is provided to students by their engagement in learning process (Darling-Hammond, 2017).
Another way by which peer learning helps in promoting the independence of students is enhancement in their employability skills along with the development of attributes such as critical appraisal and enhancing their ability to communicate. Students would be provided with assistance at the time of entering their profession by making them engage in collaborative learning environment. Students would be gaining skills to work with people from diverse culture and diverse communities that would help them in enhancing a range of attributes required to enhance their skills of working independently (cft.vanderbilt.edu, 2017). When entering into professional life, students inculcating such skills would not be dependent much on their superiors for taking any decisions. However, seeking guidance from superiors is the way out for dealing with complex circumstances.
Independence for students is promoted by way of conversation and interaction with other students as they become more open to questions and gaining review and feedback for the same. Students would have improved and better level of perceived self-efficacy by providing them the opportunity to learn with peers. Self-efficacy sources is achieved from peer learning by way of successfully testing personal experiences after the goals have been achieved, social support, other peer observation for performing acts and goal achievements, absence of strong emotions. Psychological empowerment factors such as impact, self-determination and competence helps in the improvement of students skills. Experience of students in performing activities is depicted by competence and peer learning helps in increasing their competence skills. Self-determination of students is enhanced for making decisions (Linton et al., 2014). Another factor that has assisted students while practicing peer learning is the degree to which administrative, strategic and operating outcome influences their work.
Negative sides of peer-to-peer learning:
Students experience- It is certainly possible that students will be involved socially and there is lacking of social conversation, as they are consistently involved in working with same peers or groups. Therefore, there is no possibility of social development that s required sometimes for healthy conversation.Since, there exist a vast difference between the experience of teacher and instructors, they might not learn as much, and gaining knowledge becomes limited. The likelihood of development and promotion of positive relationship between teacher and students is not possible if students are only working with other peers (Wang et al., 2014).
Poor applicability- In most of cases, peer learning is not efficiently and properly applied that might results from ineffective collaboration of students and teachers.
Lack of confidentiality- Students might struggle, as there exists too much transparency, as students are able to get engaged with instructors and other peers.
One of the powerful classroom techniques is student helping one other and receiving assistance from their fellow students. Students are able to take responsibilities and increases motivation when they collaborate with their fellow learners. Collaboration helps in achieving the process oriented goals and marketing skills development such as communication, social skills, project management, problem solving and developing competencies in team player game. Peer learning help students in cooperative learning that has the characteristics of positive independence and it is perceived that working in group produces better performance compared to working individually. Learning process is the main focus of peer learning and fellow students also offer support while learning which one of the main attributes of such learning (Broadbent & Poon, 2015). Therefore, it can be seen that students are able to maximize their learning experience when they are performing task together with fellow students.
It is found from the research and reviewing of several academic journals that students are benefitted from being engaged in process of peer review. One of the effective tools of learning is positioning feedback that provides students with dual feedback. Future career of students would receive assistance through the development of diverse skills. Students are able to involve in deep learning by engaging in process of peer review that helps in inspiring workplace (Bowman-Perrott et al., 2013).
From the above analysis of academic research on peer learning, it is concluded that engagement of students in such learning process provides them with several benefits along with generating opportunities for future career development. However, there are some issues faced in engaging in such learning process that would be reduced while engaging in the process and it is not likely to be intimidated promptly. Process of peer learning is not a solitary practice and wide range of activities can be covered for combining in different ways to become compatible with suiting particular courses.
- The perception of students for the peer learning process needs to be shaped and they need to see a connection between ways of working in classroom and gaining knowledge from engaging with fellow students.
- Peer learning should also encourage social and personal development for overcoming some negativity of learning proces
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