Students enrolled in higher education face several learning challenges. For some students, time management is an issue in learning and for others, coping with reading materials become challenging. Despite these issues, one of the main limitations found in student is that they are not active learners. This can be said because they have little interaction with their peer’s or tutor during the learning process (Fook & Sidhu, 2015).
Hence, collaborative approach is needed so that students excel in the process of learning. Due to this limitation, active learning approach has been recommended to students so that they deeply engage in their education for different purpose. Students can achieve this by different means such as peer-to-peer interaction, group discussion, collaborative assignment and group participation. This kind of participation in active learning activities can decrease failure rates and increase enthusiasm for learning among students (Armbruster et al., 2009). Although many types of active learning methods has been mentioned, however the main focus of this report is to evaluate the role of peer-to-peer learning in promoting student’s independence. Exploration in this area will help to determine how peer-to-peer learning can influence key learning outcome of students.
Findings and discussion
Peer-to-peer learning is the process of two-way or reciprocal learning activity, which involves mutual sharing of ideas, knowledge and experience between participants. This form of participative learning with peers helps students to develop the skills of working collaboratively and receiving valuable feedback regarding their knowledge from peers (Kelly & Katz, 2016). Peers may be anyone with good expertise in the area of study or little experience in study. However, people in the role of a tutor or expert practitioner cannot be regarded as peers. Hence, seniors, classmates or colleagues can regarded as peers in the learning process. Peer-to-peer learning is highly encouraged for students because it plays a major role in promoting student’s independence. This can be said because peer learning increases confidence of students and develop their competence in area of study or practice.
The research study by Stone, Cooper & Cant, (2013) also supports the fact students who want to acquire professional skills should engage in peer learning. The author proved this point by exploring the role of peer learning on developing communication and critical thinking skills in undergraduate student nurses. The evaluation of effects of peer learning on students revealed that peer learning promotes independent study and problem solving skills in students. Such students developed sense of autonomy in learning and understood their responsibility in education. This proved that students get benefit from peer learning process.
Another argument regarding the benefits of peer-to-peer learning process for student is that they easily accept information in this process of learning. This can be said because they can always approach their peers for advice and guidance. Peer-to-peer learning process also has the advantage of addressing barriers in the learning process. For instance, when students engage in the process of learning, they often develop anxiety when fail to interpret new concepts in their subject. Stress, anxiety and shame are some negative emotions that students develop during the learning process.
This happens both for novice as well as proficient learners. However, when such students get the opportunity of peer tutoring, they develop a sense of belonging and their anxiety is reduced too. Interaction with peer and students enhance the knowledge acquisition process. This clarity in learning process opens opportunities for independence in their future professional careers too. After placement in their desired professional post, they are able to solve their problems independently (Stone, Cooper & Cant, 2013).
Peer learning is also favored by many educators because it has an impact on developing social skills among students. This is also related to promoting independent in students because social skills facilitate good academic and employment performance. Poor social skill is the reason for adverse learning experiences among students. They develop low self-esteem when they face challenges in the acquiring new ideas. However, Mellado, Valdebenito & Aravena, (2017) argued that cooperative learning methods like peer tutoring is an effective strategy that can enable students to achieve academic objectives. Investigation on skill development in children after the peer tutoring program has showed that students have made improved their social skills and developed confidence in expressing themselves.
This proved that peer-to-peer learning is an innovative learning framework as contributes to personal development of students. Social skill is necessary for students today due its future implications in their job role. Hence, getting to closely interact with peers brings changes in student’s behavior and this process facilitates development of communication skills. When they discuss with peers regarding their lessons, they ask questions as well defend different point of views. This helps students to resolve their cognitive challenges (De Backer, Van Keer & Valcke, (2015). Therefore, peer tutoring has become a powerful resource in education context as it improves social skills and enhances satisfaction in the learning process too. Students should embrace peer tutoring because of its ability to develop communicative and collaborative behavior in patient.
The main problem for students who are enrolled in higher education is that they become disengaged from their study once they submit their assessment work. They do not make any judgment about what issues they faced during completing the work or miss opportunities for crucial learning (Thomas, Martin & Pleasants, 2011). In short, it can be said that they become passive recipient of assessment outcomes. The review of literature has revealed student’s motivation is an important criterion in effective learning. However, lack of motivation in some students is the reason for poor academic achievement. In the context of this problem too, peer learning is found beneficial in developing learning outcome and facilitating meaningful learning among students. Razak & See, (2010) has explained that peer learning is one tool that promotes attainment in students and increases their motivation to review and comprehend lessons.
The benefits of peer learning can also be explained by theoretical model of social constructivism, which states that progress in learning occurs under the guidance of others (Kiraly, 2014). Hence, this element is provided by peer learning within groups, as students can get help from experts and assimilate ideas that cannot understand on their own. Students get the opportunity to actively convey ideas to their peers and solve their problems under the guidance of suitable peers.
The benefits of peer learning for promoting student’s independence are understood from discussion on four valid points that improves learning outcome of students. Peer learning process has also found favor according to different social learning theories. For instance, Vgygotsky’s social constructivist theory has importance implications for peer learning. He gave idea about a zone of proximal development (ZPD) which showed that potential development of a person occurs when they engage in problem solving under expert’s guidance (Kiraly, 2014). This implies that effective knowledge acquisition can occurs under the guidance of experts. This further emphasizes the if students collaborate with their peers, they can become confident learners.
The report gave an insight into the common issues faced by students when they learn in a isolated environment without any interaction with others. With evidence regarding the need for active learning process among students to engage in learning, the report proceeded with the discussion on peer-to-peer learning method as an active learning activity. Four comprehensive arguments were presented evidence based findings that proved how peer-to-peer learning can promote student’s independence.
The four role of peer learning on student’s learning included creating sense of belonging and reducing anxiety among students, improving social skills and confidence in students, promoting independent study and critical thinking skills and facilitating meaningful learning. The importance of peer learning is also proved by the theoretical model of social constructivism. Hence, all these points justified the effectiveness of peer learning method on promoting student’s independence in learning. This report has implications for education sector and universities so that institutions increase the opportunity for students to engage with their peer to achieve academic success.
Based on reviewing the findings on the impact of peer-to-peer learning on student’s independence, it can be said that learning organizations can play a key role in encouraging students to engage in collaboration with peer.
Hence, some key recommendation to engage students in collaborative learning by interaction with peers includes the following:
- Higher universities should implement peer learning programs in universities so that group discussions enhance meaningful learning process.
- Motivation of the students in the learning process should be encouraged by developing assessment process for students. This will help to identify glitches or barriers that impede students from learning new concepts in an effective manner.
- While implementing peer learning programs, peers should give sufficient time to students so that factors contributing to anxiety in student are identified and proper solution is given to students to address conflicts during the learning process.
- The interest of students in peer learning process should aroused by implementing short educative sessions in universities. In addition, participation in peer tutoring should be encourages by strategies like rewards for academic achievement.
Armbruster, P., Patel, M., Johnson, E., & Weiss, M. (2009). Active learning and student-centered pedagogy improve student attitudes and performance in introductory biology. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 8(3), 203-213, doi: 10.1187/cbe.09-03-0025
De Backer, L., Van Keer, H., & Valcke, M. (2015). Exploring evolutions in reciprocal peer tutoring groups' socially shared metacognitive regulation and identifying its metacognitive correlates. Learning and Instruction, 38, 63-78, available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.04.001
Fook, C. Y., & Sidhu, G. K. (2015). Investigating learning challenges faced by students in higher education. Procedia-social and behavioral sciences, 186, 604-612, doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.001
Kelly, P., & Katz, L. (2016). Comparing Peer-to-Peer and Individual Learning: Teaching Basic Computer Skills to Disadvantaged Adults. International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology (IJAVET), 7(4), 1-15, DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2016100101
Kiraly, D. (2014). A social constructivist approach to translator education: Empowerment from theory to practice. Routledge, available at: https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mcoJBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=A+social+constructivist+approach+to+translator+education:+Empowerment+from+theory+to+practice.+&ots=d6VaPJ2lE4&sig=5QtRjsGLMNmlQqKay4-kbWf1XfA#v=onepage&q=A%20social%20constructivist%20approach%20to%20translator%20education%3A%20Empowerment%20from%20theory%20to%20practice.&f=false
Mellado, M. E., Valdebenito, V., & Aravena, O. (2017). Peer tutoring to develop social skills among university students. Int. J. of Pedagogies & Learning, 12(2), 147-159, available at: http://www.adamhousepress.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5Mellado.pdf
Razak, R. A., & See, Y. C. (2010). Improving academic achievement and motivation through online peer learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 358-362, doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.164
Stone, R., Cooper, S., & Cant, R. (2013). The value of peer learning in undergraduate nursing education: a systematic review. ISRN nursing, 2013, available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/930901
Thomas, G., Martin, D., & Pleasants, K. (2011). Using self-and peer-assessment to enhance students’ future-learning in higher education. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 8(1), 5, Available at:http://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol8/iss1/5
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