A Closer Look At The Transformative Role of Peer Learning in
 21st Century School
A Closer Look At The Transformative Role of Peer Learning in
 21st Century School

Peer Learning has been a hot topic and growing at a rapid pace in the 21st century. A big reason for the growth of collaborative learning platforms, and peer-to-peer learning spaces is the positive upside the innovative practice has had on its constituents. Students, teachers, and even parents have all highlighted the positive effects of peer-to-peer learning.

In its part, Peer Square has published several blogs that attest to the impact of peer learning, and the different features of nurturing future-ready learners. This article will dive deeper into those ideas, by looking at the achievements from a recent study on Portuguese educational institutions that have implemented peer-learning practices into their school curriculum. 

The Study

The study was conducted by the authors’ Ana Raquel Carvalho and Carlos Santos. The authors claim that peer-learning” is a learner-centered approach that facilitates the development of soft and technical skills, with evidence-based contributions to learners’ academic performance under the cognitive, affective, and social dimensions”.
 
The authors believe that by applying peer-learning in traditional school systems and curriculums, they will be in effect promoting greater student achievement, facilitating communication and collaboration, and increasing student engagement.
 
This study aimed to obtain proof of this hypothesis. By applying the projects across 5 different educational institutes, the author’s sought to be as diversified as possible. Their participants included higher education institutions through teachers, as well as peer teacher students. Data collection was carried out via interviews that were semi-structured and in-depth with the participants. The researcher’s methodology included questionnaires that they distributed to the participants. They also relied on content analysis, on descriptive statistics, while constantly self-assessing student performance.

Study Findings

The study into the transformative role of Peer-Learning within 21st-century educational institutions yielded some interesting results. The results showed that most of the peer learning projects administered exhibited similarities in their purpose, operations, implementation, and organization. Taking a closer look at the participants, the results showed that the impact of the peer projects was similar amongst participants from the same educational background. This is especially true with four of the five projects, which were held in basic/elementary and secondary schools. However, some glaring differences were visible between the secondary schools, and the projects applied in higher education. To be more specific, differences were found regarding the peer learning principles of the program. For instance, the role and responsibilities that were given to Peer Teacher Students remained within the scope, but were more student-focused, and required more autonomy and availability over time.

By analyzing up close the social learning space, as well as seeing firsthand the peer learning solutions in practice, the researchers were able to shed more light and add further insight into the implementation of guidelines and foundations for peer-to-peer learning solutions.

The participants reported numerous skills that were bolstered through their participation in the peer-learning projects. For instance, the Peer Students Teachers emphasized their “improvement of teaching and learning skills.” They also acknowledged major improvements to their “collaborative” and “communication skills”, further proving that peer-learning solutions are key to facilitating communication and collaboration.

Furthermore, findings also reported the improvement and development of “personal and interpersonal skills” by the participants involved. This bolstered the Author’s original hypothesis on the project. Beyond just the educational aspect, and more towards the psychological and personal sense, peer-learning solutions and projects can impact the emotional and social nature of individuals and have an important effect on their emotions and cognition. By working together in groups, with individual contributions of value, and towards achieving a common goal, peers are empowered. This reflects positively on their human and social skills. 

In the end, across the five projects, learners were able to receive different course backgrounds, as well as the opportunity to reinforce and enhance their interpersonal, emotional, and social relationships. These sentiments were very clearly expressed in Peer Teacher Students’ positive insights of participation, as they reiterated their feeling of belonging to the school and the group, but also on their self-esteem and motivation for learning.

The Impact of Peer Square
 
This study further solidifies the impact that Peer Square has as a collaborative learning platform and how it can help in nurturing future-ready leaders. According to the authors, “facts show these projects’ potential to captivate different learner profiles, including those of students with a higher risk of social exclusion and learning engagement issues, allowing them to feel valued and to restore their relationship with the school, their appreciation for learning, and after all to be used by 21st-century schools as a bottom-up pedagogical solution to promote learner engagement and combat early school leaving.”

These words fall perfectly in line with Peer Square’s mission statement, and its vision for the platform. By campaigning, implementing, and promoting the potential of peer-to-peer learning, Peer Square aims to achieve everything that the study proved is possible with peer-learning solutions.

We’ve always believed that peer-learning is far more than an educational service or educational tool, but is equally impactful on social, interpersonal, and communication aspects. The study shows the positives of peer learning and its possibilities. With Peer Square, we aim to add to the scientific research by continuing to provide real-world data and real-life cases through our collaborative platform.

Meta Description: A study that assessed the impact of peer-learning solutions across five different Portuguese educational institutions yielded interesting results. Read this article to learn more

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