Russell Woodward Nicola Pattinson


This paper explores student reported informal peer-learning in a business degree cohort at a UK community college. Literature on conceptualisation and debate regarding peer-learning is examined along with established typologies with respect to equality, mutuality and structure. Following this a critical review of evidence-based studies is undertaken. Crucially we propose a framework of conceptual, functional and experiential themes of peer learning, linked to aspects of student diversity in such courses/institutions. This framework is applied in our questionnaire study investigating the perceptions of second- and third-year students about peer learning. The main findings are that the thematic directionally distinct peer-learning seems not to be prevalent but that across themes and settings some students are more generally engaged in peer-learning than others. The content-based theme of two-way peer-learning that is strongest is guidance in making sense of subject literature; the weakest is guidance on environment aspects of business, e.g. economics. The settings of strongest peer-learning are reported to be those of in-class activities plus group assessment work. The main teaching recommendation is therefore greater deployment of in-class activities that require collaborative learning and require peer learning. The main recommendations for further research include more open explorations of student peer engagement where students can specify significant in-class events and experiences.