Peer learning occurs when students share with each other experience, ideas, knowledge, methods, and perspectives. It mostly happens informally between peers in the same class, programme, or department, and teachers can use it as part of formal instruction.

Seeking and extracting accurate information informally and together with whoever is available around is close to most real-life situations. It helps develop critical thinking because students get accustomed to relying on themselves and their peers instead of a single authority figure.

 

Implementing peer learning activities

To be effective, peer learning activities need to be properly introduced and motivated for students. Teachers’ involvement is expected to be high in the beginning and would decrease significantly as students become capable to carry on independently. Teacher here is a facilitator and a guide who gives the process a structure, sets the ground rules, and monitors the progress without interfering.

Formal peer learning activities are likely to benefit many participants during:

  • Group discussions
  • Collaborative projects
  • Peer review assignments
  • Laboratory works/experiments
  • Counselling/mentoring

 

Some of the peer learning activities can be supported by the online platforms Athena, iLearn2, and SciPro (specifically developed at DSV SU to support the process of thesis writing and supervision).

Peer review is one of the formal outlets for peer learning. It occurs when students evaluate each other’s work and provide feedback in the form of constructive criticism. It is used to raise the quality of students’ work, which, it turn, helps improve their final grades. In academia, peer review is mostly associated with writing, but the principles of review can be applied to a range of different tasks.

Students learn by “borrowing” good ideas from each other and develop the ability to notice and differentiate between what’s important and what’s secondary. They also learn to express their critique in a professional way – impartially and respectfully, addressing the work rather than the author. If students do this exercise often, they learn to complete tasks with a target audience in mind.

 

Implementing peer review

Peer review can be included into course design as a separate assignment or come as a supplement. Most common contexts for peer review:

  • Academic writing with a focus on scientific research methodology (e.g. research reports, theses, etc.)
  • Projects with a focus on subject-specific content (e.g. creation of artefacts and algorithms, method application, etc.)
  • Group work evaluation in the form of peer feedback on each member’s contribution to the group activity.

Types of peer review in connection to its contribution and expected value:

  • High-stakes (assignment submissions that follow the reviews are graded A-Fx: e.g. finalised course- and project reports, etc.).
  • Low-stakes (assignment submissions that follow the reviews are not graded or graded P/F/bonus points: e.g. plans, synopses, and parts of larger projects; intermediate steps in the process of artefact development, etc.).
  • Supplementary (peer assessment of group work activity).

 

In the guides below we’ve collected some practical tips on implementing peer review assignments:

 

Peer review - subject-specific projects (133 Kb)  

Quick example:

Platform: Athena

  • via the Assignment tool/Uppgiftsverktyg: Students can perform peer assessment/kamratgranskning.

Platform: iLearn2

  • via the Forum feature: Students can share their works and reviews as file attachments to forum posts.
  • via the File Sharing feature: Teachers share all submitted works and reviews after the assignment deadline on the course’s web page (e.g. in a compressed folder).
  • via the Workshop function: Teachers can assign each individual student a peer assignment to review after the assignments have been submitted. The workshop instance can be created manually when setting up the course page.

 

Peer review - scientific writing, research reports & theses (112 Kb)  

Quick example:

Platform: SciPro

  • via the SciPro peer portal:
  1. Checklist.
  2. Commenting.
  3. Colour-coding to mark the quality of different parts in thesis drafts.

 

Extended examples 1-4 of peer review implementation (127 Kb)

  1. Subject-specific projects: peer reviews via the Forum feature

  2. Subject-specific projects: peer reviews via the File Sharing feature

  3. Research reports: peer reviews via the Forum feature

  4. Theses: peer reviews via the Peer Portal in SciPro


     

 

Read more

Aghaee, N. & Keller, C., 2016. ICT-supported peer interaction among learners in Bachelor’s and Master’s thesis courses. Journal of Computers and Education, 94, pp.276–297. 

Boud, D., Cohen, R. & Sampson, J., 2016. Peer learning in higher education: learning from and with each other. London: Routledge.

Elmgren, M. & Henriksson, A-S, 2016. Universitetspedagogik. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

King, A., 2002. Structuring peer interaction to promote high-level cognitive processing. Theory Into Practice, 41(1), pp. 33–39.  

Johannisson, A. & Vestling, M., 2016. Kamratgranskning: ett arbetssätt för studenters lärande. Högskolepedagogiskt projektarbete. Lund universitet.

Ramberg, R., Weerasinghe, T., Hewagamage, K., 2013. Designing a peer-teaching activity to promote inquiry-based learning. In: Proceedings of the 11th WSEAS International Conference on E-activities (EACTIVITIES '13). Nanjing, China, 17–19 November 2013. WSEAS E-library. 

Walvoord, M. E., Hoefnagels, M. H., Gaffin, D. D., Chumchal, M. M. & Long, D. A., 2008. An analysis of Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) in a science lecture classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 37, pp.66–73.