This post looks at the impact of peers to progress learning but also poses the question of negative impact of peers and how to minimise impact thereof.

The post continues in the discussion over Hattie’s Visible Learning book. Within the book, Hattie suggests 43 key approaches to implement findings from his first book Visible Learning. The 43 key approaches are grouped in to:

  • Inspired and passionate teaching (1 to 5)
  • Planning (6 to 11)
  • Starting the lesson (12 to 23)
  • During the lesson: learning (24 to 32)
  • During the lesson: feedback (33 to 38)
  • The end of the lesson (39 to 42)
  • Mindframes (43)

This post is number 18 under ‘Starting the lesson’.

18       Teachers and students use the power of peers to progress learning

Although many benchmark assessments or tests in live are measured against individual performance, much of what we learn is actually from each other. Whether socially playing golf with a friend or learning a board game…we learn from peers and peers learn from us.

Hattie recognises that the effects of peers on learning is high (.52) and that the score would be even higher if you were to discount the negative influences of peers.

How can students learn from each other?

Peers can help by:

  • Mentoring
  • Tutoring
  • Friendship
  • Feedback
  • Making school a place they want to come to each day

Such approaches are common place in schools, but can all five be present in a classroom? Should we be looking to maximise exposure to mentoring or tutoring opportunities in a classroom?

When is peer learning most powerful?

Peer learning is certainly a powerful intervention, and an intervention that has greatest impact once students have a basic level of understanding on the topic. They have the knowledge to engage in meaningful conversations with each other without fear of not knowing or being able to discuss the topic.

What does the student helping receive?

Another form of peer learning is tutoring. Research has shown that the effects are as great on the tutor as they are the tutee. Tutoring, although more powerful when older students tutors younger students, is still a useful tool for students at a similar age.

Getting the climate of the class right

Last June, I wrote a piece (again, linked to Hattie) about the importance of getting the climate of the class right. It remains fundamental that, for students to enjoy school, it has to be a place that they want to come to each day…a place that they feel valuable.