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Peer learning: Student-centered instructional strategy for the development of critical thinking and generic skills

Author Maeve Malone and Seamus Morrisey
Abstract Recently new demands are being placed on higher education providers, with an increased emphasis on student-centred pedagogy and developing a range of generic skills to assist employability, in addition to domain-specific outcomes. These requirements are fuelled by socio-economic and technological advances, as well as requirements from industry for generic and critical thinking skills. Yet, while there are calls from many quarters for the development of these skills in students, there is a shortage of Irish studies or theoretical models to assist providers in their development. For this reason, the paper examines peer learning as an engaging instructional strategy in Higher Education Institutions, to enhance both critical thinking and generic skills. It investigates student's experiences and perceptions toward peer learning and how it influences learning outcomes; in particular the development of critical thinking and generic skills. The research applied a qualitative approach and conducted semistructured interviews among third level students, at Shannon College of Hotel Management. Results from this study confirm that peer learning is an engaging instructional strategy that greatly enhances learning outcomes. A key finding is that peer learning appears to have a significant impact on the development of a range of critical thinking and generic skills. The findings further suggest a need to apply peer learning strategies for engagement and the development of these skills. It is proposed that the theoretical model presented as a culmination of the findings, should be utilised by providers of higher education, to develop these skills and to enhance learning outcomes from peer learning.
Keywords Student-centered learning, engagement, peer learning, critical thinking, generic skills.
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2014
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