Enhance Learning Experiences with Student-to-Student Interaction
Effective learning is not shaped solely by the instructor. Student interactions also play a pivotal role in cementing knowledge, introducing divergent understandings, and preparing students for collaboration in the healthcare field. Studies show that students learn and retain material better when they are able to discuss it with their peers.
Classes with higher student-to-student communication typically include more discussions, either for the whole classroom or through small group breakout sessions, group activities, and forums for online conversations. Educators who are interested in increasing student interaction can take simple steps to create the time and space needed:
- Set aside 15-30% of class time for some form of student interaction
- Provide regular opportunities for students to work in pairs or small groups
- Ask students to engage in different ways, from discussions to giving presentations to brainstorming how to solve a problem
Student interactions are also not limited to classroom discussions. Educators can try out new and creative formats to facilitate student-to-student interaction, such as those listed below:
These exercises first ask students to think individually about their answer to an open-ended question or problem. Then students discuss their ideas with a peer (or a small group). Finally, each pair or group reports their findings to the whole class. In each step, the students gradually expand their perspectives and practice effectively communicating their own thought process.
Conceptual Multiple-Choice Questions.
As the name suggests, conceptual multiple-choice questions test students’ grasp on an overall concept rather than quizzing them on a fact or simply testing their critical thinking. One way to use this tool in the classroom is to give students remote clickers so they can respond to questions in real-time as if they were taking a poll. Afterward, the instructor can lead students in a discussion based on their answers.
This method first tasks students with doing their own research to become an “expert” in a narrow topic. Then students are put into groups of mixed experts and asked to further explore a topic or solve a problem. This type of exercise can help students anticipate how colleagues with different areas of expertise will bring different perspectives and priorities to the table.
Online Discussion Forums.
Many courses now combine both in-person and online elements. When asking students to engage in an online, asynchronous discussion, be sure to provide clarity on expectations for the discussion, since you will not be able to act as a facilitator in the same way you would in a classroom. Provide clear guidelines for how students should communicate with each other to set a tone of respect and tolerance for a diversity of opinions. Clarify whether you expect students to use a professional writing style or cite sources in their responses.
When designing a prompt, focus on open-ended questions that have more than one right answer. Consider asking students to explore raw data and determine how to best interpret it and use it on their own.
An educational software platform such as Leo gives you the tools you need to set up online discussions, provide students with materials to prepare for a discussion or group assignment, and keep track of student feedback on their experience of collaborative activities. To learn more about how Leo can help encourage student-to-student interaction and enhance the learning experience, contact us today.