HILT 2019 Conference: Student Perspectives on Peer Learning | Summary and Q&A

November 7, 2019
Harvard University
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HILT 2019 Conference: Student Perspectives on Peer Learning


Peer learning is a valuable and transformative experience that transcends the classroom, providing opportunities for growth and collaboration.

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Key Insights

  • ⚾ Peer learning is most effective when it is unexpected, reciprocal, and based on authentic tasks.
  • ✊ Unequal power dynamics and unclear objectives can hinder the effectiveness of peer learning experiences.
  • ❓ Peer learning extends beyond the classroom, providing valuable opportunities for personal growth and development.
  • 🖐️ Instructors play a crucial role in creating a supportive and productive environment for peer learning.


Good morning, everybody. It's really nice to see you all. Thanks for joining us at this panel. Those of you who've met me before know I don't normally sound like this. So I'm very grateful for the microphone today. But because of that, I'm also going to do something that I think is probably good pedagogy and let the students and you all do more of ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How do different peer learning environments, such as co-curricular activities and classroom settings, impact the learning experience?

Co-curricular activities provide a more egalitarian and motivated learning experience, while classroom settings can be more structured and driven by grades. Both environments offer valuable opportunities for peer learning.

Q: What are some key qualities of effective peer learning?

Effective peer learning involves being engaged, active, and transformative. It requires authentic tasks and sustained interactions. Clear objectives, balance, and honesty are also important qualities in peer learning experiences.

Q: How can instructors create an environment conducive to positive peer learning?

Instructors should communicate norms and expectations, encourage vulnerability and feedback, and align the learning objectives with the nature of peer interactions. They should also acknowledge the value of peer learning experiences and provide guidance for successful collaboration.

Q: Who can be considered a peer in a learning context?

Peers are individuals who have shared experiences, regardless of formal roles or power dynamics. Peers can be classmates, mentors, advisors, or co-workers, as long as they contribute to a collaborative learning environment.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Five students from Harvard University discuss their experiences with peer learning, both in and out of the classroom.

  • They highlight the importance of unexpected, organic, and reciprocal interactions in peer learning environments.

  • The students also discuss the challenges of unequal power dynamics, unclear objectives, and lack of feedback in peer learning experiences.

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