Student to Student Learning

This week, I was asked a question from a colleague who wanted to continue engaging students online using research for student to student (peer-to-peer) learning. I would like to share several studies on this topic. First, 2018 research shows that "Students learn better when interacting with classmates" by Warfa, Nyachwaya and Roehrig. One of the goals of the study was to "develop better curriculum within classes." The authors stated that “we don’t naturally know how to work in a group and share our ideas and not put people down - that’s the piece that we have to work hard at."

Other supporting research includes:

The learning benefits of teaching: A retrieval practice hypothesis (2018) by Koh, Lee and Lim. The authors found that on a final comprehension test, learners in the teaching group outperformed learners in control groups.

Expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge (2014) by Nestojko, Bui, Kornell and Bjork. The authors found that participants expecting to teach produced more complete and better organized free recall; and correctly answered more questions, particularly questions covering major concepts.

The relative benefits of learning by teaching and teaching expectancy (2013) by Fiorella and Mayer. Their findings suggest that when students teach, they develop a deeper and more persistent understanding of the material.

Foundational research in this area includes Angelo and Cross (1993), Chickering and Gamson (1987) and Sorcinelli (1991) work, which suggest methods to support students learning from students:

  • Ask students to share information about each other’s backgrounds and academic interests.

  • Encourage students to prepare together for classes or exams.

  • Create study groups.

  • Ask students to give constructive feedback on each other’s work and to explain difficult ideas.

  • Use small group discussions, collaborative projects in and out of class, group presentations, and case study analysis.

  • Ask students to discuss key concepts with other students whose backgrounds and viewpoints are different from their own.

On a tangent concept of assessment, several people have asked about proctoring online exams. I will share the following on that topic for your consideration, especially during these stressful times, Alternatives to Proctored Exams by Rutgers University. “We had two goals for this approach, first, to discourage the use of remote-proctored exams, unless absolutely necessary (for the fairness-related and technical reasons listed in the document); and, second, to provide alternatives, including alternatives that would work for traditionally computational exams in quantitative courses."


Angelo, T.A., & Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A.W., & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 39(7): 3-7.

Sorcinelli, M.D. (1991). Research findings on the seven principles. In A.W. Chickering & Z.F. Gamson (Eds.) Applying the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education (pp. 13-25). New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 47. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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