Peer learning or peer instruction may be defined as students “learning from and with each other in ways which are mutually beneficial and involve sharing
knowledge, experience and ideas between participants” (Boud, 2008, as cited by Boud, 2002). Peer learning typically works best when students are
well-prepared in advance (e.g., read and analyzed a chapter or readings) and are held accountable by the instructor.
Below are some possible types of group configurations that enable the best of peer-assisted learning:
- “Buzz Groups: A large group of students is subdivided into smaller groups of 4–5 students to consider the issues surrounding a problem.
After about 20 minutes of discussion, one member of each sub-group presents the findings of the sub-group to the whole group.
- Affinity Groups: Groups of 4–5 students are each assigned particular tasks to work on outside of formal contact time. At the next
formal meeting with the teacher, the sub-group, or a group representative, presents the sub-group’s findings to the whole group.
- Solution and Critic Groups: One sub-group is assigned a discussion topic and the other groups constitute ‘critics’ who observe, offer
comments and evaluate the sub-group’s presentation.
- ‘Teach-Write-Discuss’: At the end of a unit of instruction, students have to answer short questions and justify their answers. After
working on the questions individually, students compare their answers with each other. A whole-class discussion subsequently ensues examining the array of
answers presented” (Christudason, 2003, p. 1).
Other Examples of Peer Learning
- Think-Pair-Share (students first ponder a question and prepare an answer individually, then pair with a partner to share and exchange ideas, and third,
one member of the pair shares their collective answer with the class)
- The Learning Cell (students work in pairs and alternate asking questions about class content to each other)
- Jigsaw Classroom (see also Cooperative Learning)
- Team-Based Learning (see also Cooperative Learning)
- Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (2001) Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning from and with Each Other. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Ender, S., & Newton, Fred (2000). Students Helping Students: A Guide for Peer Educators on College Campuses. San Francisco, CA:
Mazur, E (1997) Peer Instruction: A User's Manual. Des Moines, IA: Prentiss-Hall.
Related Evaluation and Assessment Resources
- Peer Assessment – Center for Teaching Excellent, Cornell University:
- Student Self-Assessment: Thinking About The Way We Know – Marie Eaton, http://www.evergreen.edu/washingtoncenter/docs/eaton_selfassess.pdf (see
- Self-Assessment – Center for Teaching Excellence, Cornell University
- Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation – The Foundation Coalition,:
- Teamwork VALUE Rubric – AAC&U: http://web.uri.edu/assessment/files/Teamwork-Rubric.pdf
- Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning – Marilyn M. Lombardi, Educause Learning Initiative: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3019.pdf (See pages 8-9.)
- An Introduction to Classroom Assessment Techniques – D.M. Enerson, K.M. Plank, & R.N. Johnson, Schreyer Institute for Teaching
Excellence, Penn State University:
- The Concept of Formative Assessment – C. Boston: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED470206.pdf
- Classroom Assessment Techniques. A Handbook For College Teachers by T.A. Angelo & K.P. Cross (1993)
- Teaching and Grading Group Assignments – Tomorrow’s Professor ttp://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/cgi-bin/tomprof/posting.php?ID=1003
- Assessing Group Work – Marcia Devlin, Center for the Study of Higher Education, Australian Universities Teaching Committee: