Why We Need a Peer Study Revolution

Peer study is conspicuously absent from many university campuses. In the age of ever-increasing tuition fees and graduate unemployment, students feel that they are in competition with each other, and feel pressure to isolate themselves to keep up with the high study demands of university life.

But this fear of sharing ideas and resources is to the detriment of all students. Peer study doesn’t take the edge away from high-achievers. It helps everyone to accomplish more.


More efficient learning

Peer-study groups are enquiry-based learning opportunities. Students are presented with different questions and ideas surrounding the topic, and must attempt to find their own answers to them. This deepens their knowledge and understanding of their subject, but also strengthens their analysis and interpersonal skills.

Moreover, group study is more personalised than lectures. It challenges students to engage with what they enjoy and understand what they don’t. It leads them to further personal study opportunities. In university, course speeds increase almost exponentially, and there just isn’t the time or the resources for academics to explain everything as much as students might like. The sessions can focus on sticking points in the syllabus, and can allow students to address their problems properly.


A confidence boost

For some students, the transition to higher education is shocking; they are expected to be completely independent learners overnight, with little help or practice. Peer study sessions are a safe environment for students to explore their understanding and enjoy learning.

Peer study helps students see that they are not alone and gives them an opportunity to share resources and ideas. This in turn shows them how to ask intelligent questions, and highlights issues that can be raised with academics. Students do not have to feel isolated at university. Peer-learning is one way to combat this.


Mistakes are brilliant

In a class context, teaching staff impart correct information. They know the course content, understand what they are saying and, having learnt it so long ago, it may be hard for them to remember what they struggled with when they first came across it. In fact, the structure of university means that there can be very little time in lectures to address questions and confusion about the course.

In a peer study context, however, it’s absolutely fine to make mistakes. In fact, they are constructive! Other students can help correct the error, while learning to explain concepts and approach the same ideas differently, giving them a chance to create nuance and analysis in their understanding (an important exam skill!).

Meanwhile, making and correcting a mistake actually aids retention and long-term learning goals.


From independence to interdependence

Peer-study groups thrive on having students of different levels. Students don’t need to be worried that they aren’t good enough or that they don’t know the course enough to join in a group.

Equally, high-achievers can gain from helping teach subjects to their peers, and can also be challenged to think about things differently. All students take away positive skills from peer-study sessions. One of the greatest resources at university is other students!


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