Peer learning in health sciences-exploring pedagogy

Swati Paranjape, Madhavi Dharankar


Learning is a social experience. In most of the health science disciplines students learn in variety of environments like clinical placements, laboratory and lecture-based setting. Peer learning can be a component in any of these environments. However, effectiveness of peer learning on learning outcomes is not extensively researched as like other formal instructional strategies. Present paper aims to discuss the conceptual understanding, theoretical basis and possible effects of peer learning on aspects of learning outcomes. This can offer the background information to design the future research on peer learning instructional strategy. Peer learning is beneficial pedagogical learning strategy which has all round effect on the process of learning. Cognitive benefits and outcomes on the learning as well as psychosocial outcomes like behaviour, critical reasoning, motivation, and appreciation of team work are also noted. However, scarcity and diversity in the research on peer learning makes it difficult to ascertain its benefits or
shortcomings in terms of measurability and generalizability. Inclusion of peer learning as student centric, flexible and individualised approach can complement the individual needs of the learners. Comprehensive understanding of peer learning process, improved study designs considering the factors affecting group dynamics, and more representative sampling techniques can help overcome the barriers and can result in better understanding of this approach in health science education.

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