Learning in a Peer Discussion - A Qualitative Study into Possible Learning Outcomes of Peer Discussion Sessions
The purpose of this study is to find out what types of discussion occurs in peer discussions and what learning possibilities these types enable. The starting point is based on Eric Mazur’s previous work with peer instruction. Twelve students’ interactions are observed during six separate peer discussions. The students are, also, individually interviewed about their learning experience. The data show that students can exhibit three different types of discussion. These three types are: narrow discussion: The students state their answer and give a narrow explanation of their choice. Here, the students have the possibility to broaden and fortify their previous beliefs; confirming discussion: The students explain why they have picked their answer and why they have excluded the other alternatives. Here, the students have the possibility to broaden and fortify their previous beliefs to an greater extent than in narrow discussion; and contradictory discussion: The students get into an argumentation on why their choice is the correct one. Here, the students have the possibility to reassess previous beliefs and see the subject from a new perspective. The significant pedagogic outcome of this study is that students do not always have discussions that are good for learning. Therefore, teachers need to activate the students into having a contradictory discussion which enables better learning possibilities.