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Peer-to-peer learning in the higher degree by research context: A creative writing case study
journal contributionposted on 10.08.2018, 00:00 by Craig BattyCraig Batty, J Sinclair
Peer-to-peer learning is nowadays firmly embedded in the undergraduate teaching context, understood as a way of enhancing the experience of both students (encouraging collaborative learning and building independent skills, for example) and staff (offering flexible teaching methods and a means of implementing innovative assessment, for example). Despite Boud and Lee’s argument that peer-to-peer learning is a particularly relevant kind of pedagogy in the context of the Higher Degree by Research (HDR), its potential as a model of practice for candidates and supervisors remains relatively unexplored. In most universities around the world, the traditional candidate-supervisor model remains the most common method of supervision. The question we still need to ask, then, is: What might peer-to-peer learning bring to the HDR field, for both the candidate and their supervisor? In 2012, Australia’s RMIT University piloted HDR peer-to-peer learning groups in three discipline areas across its three Colleges,1 to explore their usefulness and effectiveness in enhancing both the candidate’s engagement and learning and the supervisor’s practice. This paper discusses one of these groups, in the discipline area of Creative Writing, and focuses in particular on the benefits offered to the supervisor/facilitator in leading this type of activity. By exploring areas such as logistical practices, peer reviewing and critique, benchmarking skills and capabilities, and the collective experience, we will detail both the experiences and the dynamics of the group, from the supervisor/facilitator’s perspective. We will draw on examples from the group’s activities, and argue that supplementing conventional one-on-one supervision practices with peer-to-peer learning can enhance candidates’ learning, and can be instructive and empowering for both candidates and the facilitator/supervisor.