Peer-to-peer learning is a workplace learning technique based on collaboration between employees. Implementing peer-to-peer learning in the workforce can benefit the whole organisation, as less knowledgeable employees can learn from the more experienced, whilst giving more experienced employees the opportunity to solidify their own knowledge through teaching their peers.
The Theory Behind Peer-to-Peer Learning
Peer-to-peer learning is based on the sociocultural theory of education which suggests social interactions can accelerate the progression of learning and development. Some of the key aspects of the theory are as follows:
- Support: Learners can better process information when it is delivered by a ‘more knowledgeable other’.
- Knowledge Acquisition: Learners can develop necessary industry-specific proficiency more quickly through social interactions.
- Multiple Perspectives: Through social interactions, learners are exposed to a range of different perspectives, which can lead to new understandings.
Applying the sociocultural theory of education in learning programs involves being aware of how learners may directly impact one another and considering how learning behaviours can be affected by cultural “norms.” Based on this understanding, organisations and course providers can create program plans that integrate the principles of sociocultural learning to benefit the learner’s experience and delivery of the content.
5 Types of Peer-To-Peer Learning
1. The Proctor Model
The proctor model involves more experienced learners tutoring those that are less experienced. This learning model benefits the less experienced learner as they can ask questions and better absorb information as it is delivered by a peer. For the more experienced learner, the benefits are that they can consolidate their knowledge through guidance and can also develop mentorship and leadership skills. This type of learning often takes place in the workplace and can take shape in different forms. The most common is to develop a mentor-mentee relationship, where an experienced and knowledgeable employee acts as a mentor for a newer member of the team.
2. Online Discussions
Online discussion groups give learners the opportunity to talk with their peers in a group about the topic they are currently working on. This type of discussion is typically unstructured, but participants may be prompted with a question or topic to spark discussion. As discussions are informal, learners can choose when to share their thoughts and contribute to the discussion. The key to a successful online discussion is to manage the environment so that learners feel comfortable contributing.
3. Peer Support Groups
Peer support groups are often informal and are organised by learners to take place during lunch breaks, or before or after work. Peer support groups are particularly useful for motivating learners throughout the course as learners have other people to discuss ideas with and to provide mutual support. Through working together, peers are less likely to become distracted, bored or frustrated, as learners help drive each other through difficulties and mind blocks.
4. Peer Assessment
Peer assessment is the process of having learners provide feedback on each other’s work. Peer assessment is an effective learning tool, as it gives learners the opportunity to see how other learners have completed the tasks and the cognitive processes that they have used. It also gives learners the opportunity to critically analyse a topic. A common example of peer assessment in the workplace is for employees to watch each other carrying out their roles and provide, as well as receive feedback on how the task may be done more effectively or efficiently. It’s important to remember that while peer assessment is a useful learning tool, it should not be used for formal assessments.
5. Collaborative Projects
Collaborative learning involves having learners work together on a project or task. This education technique is popular in modern education approaches, such as problem-based learning. Through working collaboratively, learners gain many skills, such as interdependence, negotiation, the ability to set and meet deadlines, and the opportunity to share skills. Groups for collaborative projects can be as small as groups of two, up to larger groups of five or six learners.
There are several other peer-to-peer learning techniques that may be applied in workplace learning to the benefit of both employees and the wider organisation. One of the ways is to create a culture of learning through communities within the organisation.
Cahoot Learning is an online learning community platform that designs cohort-based learning programs that incorporate peer-to-peer learning techniques, enabling learners to work collaboratively to achieve their learning goals. Have a chat with us to find out more about how we can help your organisation achieve these learning goals.