Much of learning at work occurs through regular interaction with colleagues. One of the approaches to encouraging this type of development is peer learning.
‘Peer learning’ is a form of cooperative learning that enhances the value of colleague-colleague interaction and results in various advantageous learning outcomes.
This approach focuses on establishing learning partnerships to help employees succeed in their current job and develop transferable skills for the future.
Peer learning is used in organisations who wish to:
- enhance their ROI on their training initiatives;
- ensure that learning is sustained after a coaching or training program;
- for more than just the C-level to experience the benefits of coaching;
- to foster the sharing of experience between staff members.
To realise the benefits of peer learning, a facilitator is used to provide a framework and direction. A facilitator would select discussion topics that all involved in the peer learning groups are likely to have some relevant knowledge of.
They also raise questions/issues that prompt learners towards more sophisticated levels of thinking and problem solving. In addition, collaborative processes are devised to get all group members to participate meaningfully.
For successful peer learning to take place, the facilitator ensures that the entire group experiences "positive interdependence", face-to-face interaction, group processing, and individual and group accountability.
"Positive interdependence" emphasises the importance and uniqueness of each group member’s efforts while important cognitive activities and interpersonal dynamics are quietly at work.
As peers communicate with one another, they inevitably assume leadership roles, acquire conflict-managing skills, discuss and clarify concepts, and unravel the complexities of human relationships within a given context; this process enhances their learning outcomes. It sets the stage for collective problem solving.
Benefits of Peer Learning:
Peer learning activities typically result in:
- team-building spirit and more supportive relationships;
- greater psychological well-being, social competence, communication skills and self-esteem;
- higher achievement and greater productivity in terms of enhanced learning outcomes
- As follow up to company training initiatives such as leadership development, one on one coaching, team development
- After an intensive coaching program to support new insights and action steps
- As part of a culture change or change management initiative
- To support an organisations staff in the time of a transition or culture change
- Deveop collective problem solving skills.
Peer learning programs enhance many learning initiatives by sustaining the learning cycle for your staff, ensuring that learning is transferred to the work place.