Peer-Learning: a model for optimising the environment of mutual help to facilitate scaffolding of student learning

Malik, Rabia and Mahdi, Hussein (2011) Peer-Learning: a model for optimising the environment of mutual help to facilitate scaffolding of student learning. [Conference Proceedings]


The use of educational strategies that require students to be more actively involved in the learning process is now strongly advocated for third level education; thus shifting the paradigm from a teacher-centred to the student-centred approach. 'Peer learning' is an educational strategy that refers to students learning with and from their fellow learners (Boud, 2001). The aim of this study was to develop a peer-learning model and ascertain the feasibility and outcome of engaging student groups to learn and develop study strategies and skills for the subject of Human Anatomy. Four peer groups were formed, incorporating 1st and 3rd year students. A two-day training of senior students/peer leaders in specific teaching and learning theories was provided. Peer supported learning sessions were held on weekly basis. In these sessions peer leaders encouraged students to take responsibility for processing course materials; facilitated the review of notes and discussed their difficulties. Student leaders then used various strategies to facilitate students to structure their understanding of the content. At the end of twelve weeks, student and the peer leader feedback was collected using two separate questionnaires. An analysis of feedback revealed that peer learning contributed very positively to the learning experiences; not only for student learners but also for the peer leaders. Data suggested that through conversations in these sessions students gained confidence in their understanding of the subject knowledge and in communicating the subject information. Results reflected other major benefits gained both by students and the leaders. 'Peer-Learning' is an effective model for providing students an opportunity to take initiative and manage their own learning and thus can play an active role in their educational and personal development. Peer learning process can thus be potentially beneficial to all clinical and related education.

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