Peer to Peer Education and Learning

Learning part

PEER LEARNING is an expression to emphasize that the learners have an equal position in the process. At the same time, the concept implies that the learners actually learn from each other and contribute on equal terms to a common solution of given tasks. Thus, peer learning, in a sense, abolishes the classical learning situation, where one party – as a rule the teacher – is hierarchically placed over the other party – as a rule the student. In peer learning, on the contrary, the roles will constantly change. In one situation, some peers can contribute more than others. In other situations, it is the other way around. The starting point is that all peers are recognized as active and valuable contributors.

The peer-to-peer learning process can be interpreted as relations, where people in a certain learning context alternately perform in the roles as providers and recipients of given services in the form of knowledge, methods etc. In the overall picture, a balance is created between providing and receiving, thus that the individual person in the learning context and community performs in both roles. In other contexts, the peer learning perspective has been defined as: “Peer learning is defined as studens learning from and with each other in both formal and informal ways” (Boud, D. (2001): “Introduction: Making the Move to Peer Learning”).

The understanding is that students – learners – learn by actively and systematically sharing their ideas, knowledge and experience through learning activities with their peers. The result is an interdependent and mutual learning process on equal grounds, where emotional and social learning are involved as essential aspects of the peer exchange. Thus, elements of coproduction are part of the peer learning process, based on building blocks such as:

  • Building on people’s capabilities: everyone has different capabilities and skill sets.
  • Recognizing all participants as assets: no participant should have special authority or take a leading role.
  • Mutuality and reciprocity: the aim is to create a two-way relationship – meaning interdependent and mutual learning positions.

“Peer teaching can take many forms. The common factor is that knowledge is shared not by an instructor or other person of authority. It’s all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know…” (What is Peer-to-Peer Learning?

In this way, we may talk about a horizontal, non-hierarchical learning community – as opposed to traditional learning contexts that usually build on a vertical and hierarchical structure, based on unilateral roles as teachers and students in unequal positions.

Peer relations or mentor/mentee relations: it is relevant to point out a difference between the mentor/ mentee relationship and the peer-based relations. is integrated into the mentor role that mentor must be a supervisor, facilitator and instructor in the interaction with his mentee. The mentor is positioned higher than the mentee according to the logic of the function. This is a kind of teacher/student relationship – regardless of the fact that the mentor/mentee relationship may be established between young people at the same age, the same level of education etc. In summary, the mentor/mentee construction is built on a asymmetric relation – unlike the peer approach.

[Extracted from the SUPEER Booklet collection on concepts and methodologies, Booklet 1 “Peer learning in youth work and integration”

    Description of the exercise

    What is peer to peer learning and how does it assist in Youth Empowerment?