Case study: Peer learning accelerates achievement

Welding and Fabrication tutor Flip Leijten's research showed richer learning levels were achieved when Peer Learning practices were implemented in four different Ara trades training programmes.

"Students achieved, often well beyond expectation," Leijten says. His research also suggests the potential contributions of these students had previously been underestimated.

Ara's trades tutors have years of industry expertise and bring a unique approach to their education research.

Funded by Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub, and mentored by Ara's Dr Selena Chan, Leijten's project is stimulating an innovative new research community. The work provides a valuable contribution to best practice teaching and the development of highly skilled graduates through vocational training.

Leijten's findings were presented at New Zealand and Australian conferences, and while peer learning is not new, it is unusual in an applied trades and vocational learning environment.

In a twelve month study, Leijten used video and voice recording to measure interactions between students and compare their understanding of training information before and after classroom discussion was stimulated.

Leijten noted when students are encouraged to interact they are more likely to share their learning and work together finding solutions to challenges.

Students' understanding of content was also accelerated; further benefits included improved communication skills and provision of valuable feedback for tutors.

A guide for trade teachers and tutors has now been developed and findings from Leijten's study are to be shared as part of Ara's Research Month.