Students Learning From Each Other in a Flat Course SettingﾗWhat Influences Knowledge Transfer?
Peer learning in a technology assisted flat learning environment has been demonstrated to improve student learning. The factors that influence the transfer of knowledge through discussion, communication and articulation of ideas in online environment are not well studied in an engineering education context. In this study, we present our approach to peer learning which involves collaborative learning within a team (intra-team) as well as cooperative learning across teams (inter-teams) and analyze the contributions of peer evaluation and feedback to the measured learning gains.
Our goal was to investigate the role of peer generated instructional material context and its quality in enhancing students learning and to identify which elements of the process are responsible for learning. We also explored studentﾒs perceptions on technology assisted flat learning environment.
The participants in the learning environment were given an ill-structured design problem related to sheet metal forming. The study was conducted in four phases: 1) students developed their individual approach to the design processﾗPhase 0; 2) student teams created instructional material (video) content describing their design processﾗPhase I; 3) students reviewed peer group videos and provided feedbackﾗPhase II; 4) students revised their design process based on peer-to-peer interactionsﾗPhase III.
Creating instructional material content for larger audience has been found to enhance learning. More specific in-depth comments have helped students in content poor groups to have higher learning gain. Even though our study showed receiving meaningful comments from peers as a dominant mode of learning, students believed they learned more from reviewing/commenting on peers� work. Reviewing Phase III submissions revealed that students with higher learning gain are the ones who gained knowledge from watching peer generated videos and accommodating peers� feedback.
Based on our study, the frequency of in-depth comments made in response to a specific instructional material content depends on its quality. Students in content poor groups have received the most in-depth comments, which in return enhanced their learning. This shows that peer interactions through feedback has the potential to motivate and engage even detached students. Sociocognitive theories and our findings on learning in a flatter environment can be utilized to better develop peer knowledge exchange components for a large and open online courses.
Some challenges in getting students to provide meaningful feedback online. Changed our experimental design to structure the feedback process by providing detailed instructions on what is expected.
(1) Ramachandran, M., Siddique, Z., Kremer, G., Akasheh, F., 2015, 'Bridging Learning Gap Through Peer-To-Peer Information Exchange in a Flat Environment', ASME 2015 International Design & Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference, Boston, MA, DETC2015-47379; (2) Siddique, Z., Kremer, G., Akasheh, F., 2014, 'Modeling a Flat Learning Environment as a Social Network to Understand Effects of Peer-to-Peer Information Exchange on Learning.' ASME 2014 International Design & Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers & Information in Engineering Conference, Buffalo, NY, August 17, 2014 - August 20, 2014, DETC2014-34973; (3) Siddique, Z., Akasheh, F., Okudan Kremer, G. E., 2014, 'A Flat Learning Environment - Learning to Solve Ill-Structured Problems.' 121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 15, 2014 - June 18, 2014, Paper No. 10505. (4) Siddique, Z., Akasheh, F., Kremer, G., Abou-Nassar, G., 2013, 'Enhancing Peer-Learning Using Smart Devices.' 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Atlanta, GA, June 23, 2013 - June 26, 2013. (5) Akasheh, F., Kremer, G., Siddique, Z., Abou-Nassar, G., 2013, 'Peer Learning Using Smart Devices: A Report on Work-in-Progress.' ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC) and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (CIE), Portland, OR, August 4, 2013 - August 7, 2013, DETC2013-12383.