Sharing Knowledge as Equals

When you engage in group interactions and discussions how do you behave? What are you seeking? What are you revealing of yourself? Peer tutoring is one of the oldest learning practices there is. Peer tutoring occurs when matching companions share knowledge while maintaining a status of equals [1]. Are you thinking about those online discussions where people genuinely share knowledge and honestly learn from each other? Yes, that applies as peer tutoring. Co-workers figuring out together how the new data system works? Yes, that is peer tutoring too. Those group activities in workshops where all come together to achieve a common goal? Indeed, that is peer tutoring. It happens constantly in society.

Knowledge resides in discourse and communication among individuals and their relationships. These relationships also influence how individuals see themselves, perceive their social circle, and assume how their social circle sees them. Social negotiation becomes knowledge negotiation, through which individuals engage in the meaning-making process. [2]

In peer tutoring the roles of tutor and tutee are constantly changing and balancing each other. However, it is possible to observe how individuals assume different roles in these interactions. These roles and how they are played out could determine the success in a peer tutoring interaction.  Albert Bandura defines these roles as agentic perspectives of human functioning: direct personal, collective, or proxy (surrogate). Agentic perspectives reflect self-efficacy (personal perceptions of skills to reach a goal) according to social cognitive theory [3].

agentic perspectives
Agentic Perspectives of Human Functioning

For peer tutoring to be effective, all parts must present an attitude reflecting a collective agentic perspective: all share and all learn. Yes, there is going to be a constant shift of roles as learning and teaching occurs. This also requires maturity and camaraderie. Arrogance and insecurities are the opposite of that. One can identify these characteristics in interactions online as in face-to-face situations. When individuals only seek to be ‘right’ and no other point of view counts, and when opposition comes and some resource to personal attacks and harassment, it is possible to identify issues that will put at risk the success of the learning process. Such situations are disturbing specially in environments with professional adults.

When practicing peer tutoring, focus on the goal. If the group is not in agreement towards the goal, then it would be futile to force a learning outcome. Sometimes, the learning goal is to seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge without necessarily reaching a consensus of opinion. However, the process itself and how participants conduct themselves could reveal if there is or not collective agency and if the interaction would be fruitful or else. When you engage in group interactions and discussions how do you behave? What are you seeking? What are you revealing of yourself?

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[1] Topping, K. J. (2005). Trends in peer learning. Educational Psychology, 25(6), 631-645.
[2] Tirado-Cordero, I., Hargiss, K.M.,& Howard, C. (2014).Exploring Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Entry Behaviors for Participation in an Online Peer Tutoring Learning Environment. International Journal of Strategic Information Technology and Applications (IJSITA),5 (1), p. 54-82.
[3] Bandura, A. (2008). Toward an agentic theory of the self. In H. Marsh, R. G. Craven, & D. M. McInerney (Eds.), Advances in Self Research, Vol. 3: Self-processes, learning, and enabling human potential (pp. 15-49). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

6 thoughts on “Sharing Knowledge as Equals

  1. to enter a group you must be sure that ..you now what the group is seeking to find if you have a good interaction for the group ,can you help find a way to go that will help them ??

  2. I really enjoyed the article, Dr. Tirado. To answer your questions, I would say that when I engage in group interactions and discussions I drop back a little bit, allowing the group to get into the discussion deeper and add key questions in order to steer the conversation to reach the lesson’s objective(s); I am seeking a learning experience for my trainees while giving them an opportunity of feeling that they accomplished something; what I am revealing of myself is that I am part of the pack/team so the focus is on the discussion and the material being learned.

    I think that focusing on the objectives should help with a disagreeable group. Also, it may be helpful to apply some positive reinforcement and motivational techniques. As an instructor, I dealt with adult students frequently testing boundaries. When training via group discussion, it has been my experience that it is beneficial to implement a planned “fail” as a learning tool, making sure the students are not aware until the particular lesson/discussion has been completed. This, in the long run, leads students to deduce from the discussion realizing the “fail” as they reach “correct” information or action (for example). For this to be successful, it is important to plan a “fail” and for suggestive questions and actions that will help guide the learning process.

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