Peer-based Learning: Advanced Performance Calculator

04Aug

What’s all the fuss about peer-based learning? Internet is now swarming with articles about incorporating peer assessment in the corporate training programs. We’ve tried to explain this kind of learning in a simple way for you easy understanding. Let’s kick start with its definition.

Peer-based learning is a broad sweep of learning category that encompasses different training models. Here is a classic example of peer assessment for your reference – Thought leaders from the University of Ulster identified ten various models of peer-based learning. These models incorporated the following –

  1. Traditional proctor model (where senior students would tutor junior students)
  2. Innovative learning cells (where students would partner with their batchmates to help each other with course content)
  3. Discussion seminars
  4. Private study groups
  5. Counseling
  6. Peer-assessment schemes
  7. Laboratory work
  8. Projects involving different cascading groups
  9. Workplace mentoring
  10. Community activities

In essence, peer assessment means that people are learning from each other through this approach.

As per Wiki definition, 

One of the most visible approaches to peer learning comes out of cognitive psychology, and is applied within a “mainstream” educational framework: Peer-based learning is an educational practice in which students interact with other students to attain educational goals. In this context, it can be compared to the practices that go by the name cooperative learning. However, other contemporary views on peer learning relax the constraints, and position “peer-to-peer learning” as a mode of learning for everyone, by everyone, about almost anything. Whether it takes place in a formal or informal learning context, in small groups or online, peer learning manifests aspects of self-organization that are mostly absent from pedagogical models of teaching and learning.

Business leaders are now ditching the traditional corporate training methods. Instead, they are trying to find the appropriate ways to motivate the employees for their training endeavor. Peer-based learning method that includes team building sessions, seminars, skill development activities, schematic learning and systematic feedback. While there’s lot of convincing research that shows that peer assessment can support eLearning programs, organizarions are still skeptical on how exactly PA can contribute to their corporate training. In order to be able to claim confidently that this kind of learning method matters, we need to dig deep and share the proven facts and tips supporting the claim that PA is valuable for learning.

Here is an excerpt from an article published in Harper’s magazine in 1939 by Alexander Flexner, the great education reformer,

“…most of the really great discoveries which had ultimately proved to be beneficial to mankind had been made by men and women who were driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity…Institutes of learning should be devoted to the cultivation of curiosity and the less they are deflected by considerations of immediacy of application, the more likely they are to contribute…to human welfare…”

As per a comparative study by Topping in 2010, it was revealed that formative assessment evaluated and enhanced eLearning by providing continuous feedback. This kind of valuation is proved to more effective than summative assessment which evaluates learning by comparing it to a formal standard. Simply put, assessment for learning works better than assessment of learning.

Benefits of peer assessment in employee learning

There are many benefits to off-task communication – peer assessment –

  • Since both the supervisor and the learner need to actively process the course materials, they can leverage the peer assessment process 
    to save time and effort

  • Formative assessment can enhance their perspective on what is to be learned
    from any particular eLearning program

  • PA enables the learners to articulate their domain-specific knowledge

  • Last but not least, PA encourages employees to take ownership of their online learning program apart from assisting their peers in their accomplishments in a collaborative environment

Real collaboration. Hosanna! Hallelujah! Right? Well, maybe not because peer-based learning also comes with a significant number of limitations with respect to employee training program. Obtaining the benefits of PA gets tricky at times. Here are a few questions you should ask before introducing this kind of learning module into your eLearning program

  • How do you know if your employees have the proper formative assessment skills?
  • How reliable are they as compared to the managers with regards to feedback?
  • How will their peers perceive feedback or ratings?

To summarize; there are many stumbling blocks. It’s just like having access to the Internet. Just getting the access is not enough. The user should have to be equipped to use it properly.

Stumbling blocks in collaborative learning

Validity and reliability are the two key stumbling blocks in peer-based learning.

Validity

In this case, you should first ensure if the learner has appropriate domain-specific knowledge to evaluate her/his peer’s work? Will the learner be able to evaluate and provide valuable feedback that can truly support your eLearning?

Reliability

In this case, you should first ensure how consistently learners assess their peers i.e. do all the participants assess the same deliverable in the same way?

Move those blocks out of the way! There is stuff you can do

Following are some best practices you can adopt to make your peer assessment in eLearning a success –

• You should make it clear what good performance is

• You should be able to convey clear-cut information to learning audience on how to leverage PA

• You should encourage employees to engage in dialogue

• You should encourage positive attitude and self-esteem

• You should brainstorm innovative ideas to bridge the gap between existing and desired performance levels

To conclude…

So, those were some tips along with valuable insight to the peer assessment. Have you tried peer-based learning in your eLearning program? If not, now is the right time to do it. Share your questions, doubts and experiences with us when considering peer assessment. The gain is definitely worth the pain.

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