A 2017 study from Michigan State University found that those undertaking an online course, learned better when hearing from their peers, than the instructor’s rationale. They scored 92 on an online test compared to 86. (Michigan State University. "Peers, more than teachers, inspire us to learn." Science Daily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170321110341.htm)
As the study states, “"We found that receiving the instructor rationale led to lower final grades than both the peer rationale and no rationale conditions," Roseth said. "This gives support to the idea that, motivationally, the fact that instructors control grades, tell the students what do to, and so on, may be working against their efforts to increase their students' appreciation of why the class is important."
In the virtual space, building in both formal and informal peer touchpoints can be invaluable for learning and engagement. Every time I put people into breakout they come back energized.
Peer touchpoints could include:
- Breakouts - see this recent Teams365 post on using breakouts
- Peer partners who meet in between the formal peer touch points
- Mastermind groups where you learn from each other
- Reading groups
- Social Media Communities (Facebook Groups etc)
 Tae S. Shin, John Ranellucci, Cary J. Roseth. Effects of peer and instructor rationales on online students’ motivation and achievement. International Journal of Educational Research, 2017; 82: 184 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijer.2017.02.001
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