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Implementing peer learning in education

The second hand on the classroom clock ticks much slower than my heartbeat, mocking my stare. My fingers wrap themselves around my pen, brush through my hair and rest on the keys of my laptop. My feet tap rhythms of untold uneasiness.

In moments like these in lecture halls full of over a hundred-something students, I realize that there’s no possible way the professor knows my name, my hobbies or anything about me. I am nothing but lost in the seas of thousands of students, all with one semi-attainable goal in mind.

This feeling of discomfort can leak into any course. In the last few years of my college experience, I have learned to control my mind in an impersonal lecture environment—a skill that begs the question, does this oversized atmosphere harvest a learner of the material, or someone who just learns to sit well in lectures?

The solution to this anxiety can be found in methods of peer learning. Peer learning is defined as students learning from and with each other without any authority applied to a particular individual.

A study done by NYU states that “good teaching is a very personal manner.” The study, completed earlier in 2017, resolved that “it is necessary for teachers to work from students’ strengths and interests by finding out why students are in your class and what their expectations are.”

The study concluded that individuals who understand that lessons are applicable beyond the classroom are more apt to do their work and enjoy accomplishing their objectives.

Some great examples of peer learning methods are already employed in fields of study. The effects of hands-on collective learning practices, like nursing students who conquer in clinicals together, result in a sense of purpose and value.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscience pioneer of brain theories that include steps to controlling healthy thinking and learning, supposes that “information is increasing exponentially, but the skills managing this knowledge is decreasing.”

Perhaps these findings can lead us to be conclusive in the practice of relying on each other, and teach us that there are pieces in each individual that are made to complement those of similar thought. To solve the problem of knowledge management, we only need each other.

Those activities—done in the effort of growing and learning from the same place—cultivate nothing less than a community in common pursuit.