I have been mentoring a couple of guys since high school and recently, I was giving advice to a first year who was freaking out due to the amount of work he was reciveing. I spoke to him about the importance of peer learning and how incredibly useful it is.
I made a video about this topic; check it out:
Why is peer learning important?
1. You don’t have the time
The workload at university can easily become overwhelming…and it usually always IS overwhelming. When studying and working through assignments, there’s always that pressure you put on yourself to try understand everything you are doing. While I agree that this indeed is the best way to gain good understanding of difficult concepts, it is the best way to do things at univeristy level. Take advantage of your peers. Chances are, there already is someone within your circles who already understands the topic at hand and concepts/questions that might end up taking days to figure out can be figured out within minutes or hours when consulting a friend.
2. Interactive learning is better
This is primarily why tutorial and practical sessions are offered for most courses. This is because it is often much easier for people to understand something when being explained to face-to-face. You both get a chance to ask each other questions to gain a better understand, the person teacing you can interogate you to assess just how well you may understand the concept and fill in any gaps they might notice, and it’s much easier to pay attention to someone speaking to you in real life rather than a YouTube video.
3. It reinforces your understand
I am sure you’ve heard this one from high school. Peer learning not only helps the person asking for help, but it also helps the person who is offering that help. My guess why that is is because having to explain a difficult concept to someone basically forces you to explain it in a way that you understand that concept and you will often have to look for alternative and easier ways to explain the concepts and this builds a better undertanding. At times, you will end up helping each other on that topic once you are both on the same level of understanding.
How do you actually start engaging in peer learning?
WhatsApp Group Chats!
If you haven’t done so already, create WhatsApp group chats with people studying the same degree/courses that you are doing. The earlier you do this in your University life, the better. Because pretty much everyone is on WhatsAPP, these group chats are a great way to connect with people, share ideas and more importantly, help each other out with projects, assignments and studying. I cannot count how may times my group chats have saved me in the past 2 years of my degree. They beat Stack Overflow any day!
You do not really have to be studying the exact same stuff, but studying in groups helps decrease procrastination!
Procrastination is the theif of time!
When studying with your friends you can easily help each other when you are stuck, and also keep track of each other’s progress. Because you probably have to study 24/7 just to stay affloat, group study sessions can also lead to healthy social interactions, something I find rather important to not fall into depression…but that’s just my unscientific opnion there (is that even a thing?).
Talk to your mates
Talk to your classmates about the sort of work you are doing. Be it projects, assignments, labs, etc. Talking about what you are doing can have the same effect as peer learning (helps with your understanding) and it also allows other people to give you feedback, ideas and improvements on what ever you could be working on.
DO NOT turn into one of those guys that just asks for help for everything even the most simple things. This not only annoys and discourages people from helping you in the future, but also works against you in that you will actually not understand most of the stuff you are doing, and this will come back and bite you when you have tests, exams or go for interviews.