Frequently Asked Questions
Is peer learning really better than other approaches to instruction?
The findings are consistent across studies - motivation, achievement, peer relations, behavior, and emotional health are better when students participate in properly structured peer learning lessons.
However, successful peer learning experiences don’t happen by chance. The chances of success are much higher when key design components are included in the lesson, and these elements have all been built into the PeerLearning.net lesson templates.
How can peer learning help disengaged students?
Disengaged students who feel socially marginalized by their peers can develop new friendships and find a sense of belonging when working in a group that needs their skills and knowledge to succeed.
Small-group lessons delivered with PeerLearning.net provide these students with positive attention from their peers and encouragement to engage in their schoolwork.
Won't peer learning have a negative effect on high achievers?
There are several ways in which high achievers can benefit from small-group peer learning experiences:
They have the opportunity to sharpen their social and collaborative skills.
They also can develop positive social relationships with a variety of peers; these relationships can contribute to the sense that the school is a welcoming environment.
Helping others can promote individual self-esteem.
The act of explaining a concept promotes a greater level of understanding.
Working with other kids is often a lot of fun, and can relieve stress and promote greater enjoyment of school.
How can I get kids to be more willing to work together in peer learning lessons?
PeerLearning.net creates positive interdependence among students. When students need one another to achieve their individual goals, they are naturally motivated to work collaboratively and support one another.
Students can become more comfortable with one another when mutual disclosure is part of the lesson. For example, students can share their favorite color, their favorite food, or tell a short story about their favorite relative. These disclosures engender a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among students who may have previously thought that they were very different.
How can I get groups to accept a student that is a low-achiever, a slow learner, or has behavioral problems?
Sometimes students are reluctant to work with a peer who has demonstrated in one way or another that they may not be an ideal teammate. The key to encouraging groups to accept such a student is to make it attractive or desirable to include this student by offering the group a reward of some kind, or special recognition.
This can also be done at the class level by setting a minimum achievement level that everyone has to reach to earn a reward or privilege. In this way, the whole class is incentivized to assist those students who need the most support while learning.
The reward doesn't have to be anything substantial, but could be a few minutes of social time at the end of class, getting out early for lunch or recess, bonus points on an assignment, or getting to make choices about the next learning activity.
What can I do with students who are introverted, or don’t like working in groups?
Introverts should certainly be given the opportunity to learn alone from time to time, but such students may become socially isolated, which is psychologically unhealthy. Even introverts crave social acceptance from peers, and introversion can sometimes be a case of shyness that can be overcome through positive social experiences in small learning groups.
For students who are less comfortable initially when working in groups, it is recommended to use smaller groups (2 or 3 instead of 4) and provide structured roles for group members, so students feel less confusion or pressure regarding how they can contribute to the group. PeerLearning.net can assist with incorporating these design aspects.
In addition, PeerLearning.net includes group processing at the end of the learning task where the group members tell each other something specific and positive about their contribution to the group's learning experience. This sort of positive feedback from peers can be a big help in terms of getting shy students to feel more comfortable with peers, and the process of working in the group can help them develop valuable social skills.
PeerLearning.net also provides the opportunity to support and encourage more positive social interactions among students by providing specific examples of group skills, such as good listening, good questioning, and good encouragement, through T-charts that are included with each lesson.
Does PeerLearning.net work with Google Classroom?
Yes, PeerLearning.net allows users to log in using their Google credentials, and teachers can download class rosters to PeerLearning.net from Google Classroom. In addition, teachers can post links to PeerLearning.net lessons in Google Classroom. PeerLearning.net's use of information received from Google API's will always adhere to Google API Services User Data Policy, including the Limited Use Requirements.