Peer facilitation and how it contributes to the development of a more social view of learning
Peer learning involves a new role for the students who facilitate the learning of other students. The role of the peer facilitator, which is focused on learning through supporting the learning of other students, would appear to be more social than the traditional role of learner, which is focused on self-learning. This research used repertory grids to investigate whether taking on the more social role of the peer facilitator was related to changes in what students perceived as important in teaching and in learning. Initially, all students saw constructs relating to expectations of the self as more important in learning than those relating to interaction with others. However, in a later repertory grid, the students who acted as peer facilitators saw interaction with others as a more important element of their learning. There was no comparable change in the perceptions of what was important in learning amongst students who were not involved in peer learning or in the perceptions of what was important in teaching amongst all students. These findings are explained with reference to recent developments in the student-learning literature. Their implications are explored both in terms of helping students to develop a greater understanding of their roles as learners and in offering an additional dimension with which to explore students’ learning.