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Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Computer Science | 2 comments | 532 Views

Peer-to-peer learning technique in the classroom

Peer-to-peer learning technique in the classroom

In my 3rd year Computer Science class I experienced learners coming to class under-prepared. This resulted in long boring one way lectures. The learners were not asking questions or responding to my questions. In general they were not engaged, hence not participating.  I decided to introduce peer-to-peer learning technique. In each lesson, 4 learners had to present the lecture alongside me. My role was to simply introduce what the lesson is going to be about including helping to respond to challenging questions from fellow learners. The rest of the lesson was lectured by these 4 learners. In the same manner as the flipped classroom, this technique forced learners to prepare for class before the lecture date. I allocated marks for each lesson presented. When it is not their turn to present a lesson, the other learners’ role was to ask questions and engage the presenters. The presenting learners would have to read beforehand and understood the content in order for them to present and respond to the questions. I also allocated points to the learners who asked questions, as a way to stimulate conversation within the classroom.  The rationale behind this peer-to-peer technique was that, a number of teaching and learning experts have suggested that learners understand content better when they themselves have to teach other people. This technique has produced outstanding learner-engagement results within my lessons. The class is now more exciting; learners are engaging in debate with each other and many times against me. To boost the learners’ confidence, I told them that there is no right or wrong answer, and there is nothing like a stupid question. A stupid question is “the question not asked”. I encourage anyone lecturing a senior level course (and experiencing problems of class preparedness) to try-out the peer educating technique. Once you have tried it out please share your experience with us here. Please note that this technique does not eliminate the role of the lecturer (facilitating learning).

2 Comments

  1. I like the idea of rewarding marks – almost like a contest. One could divide the class into groups and allocate points according to participation. At the end of the class you could see who wins. This might entice them to participate.

  2. Different strokes for different folks, is that precise? I truly hope so. Looking back at where you once were as an academic, I am reminded of my last year as a political science third year student. The idea of using blackboard as a student was relatively new to me, the only thing I cared bout accessible blackboard for was the PowerPoint presentations. Without these our sessions told the professor everything about us; that we were not taking our studies serious because we did not prepare. Blackboard was in this case used only for the slides and it was public knowledge that is we used only the slides for test we would not pass. We were advices to use the slides as a blueprint in approaching questions, this made it easier to construct lengthy informative/ factual essays which gave us a pass mark that was more than a mere 50% just to get by.

    The slides aided us with preparation for sessions and I was motivated to study by myself even if I did not want to when I thought of the embarrassment we felt when our peers engaged. At the third year level students are grown up enough to know that the responsibility to be knowledgeable on their studies lies entirely up to them. The favor we gained from participation was getting our lecturer to spot our weaknesses and he provided us with more materials to enable us learn by ourselves and fully engaged in class. The sessions were still conducted by the professor but we had more questions, information and answers a all at once.

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