An interventional study to investigate the effects of working with a peer of higher predicted grade on the nature interaction within a set collaborative task in comparison to working with a peer of the same predicted grade.
This research aims to investigate the nature of interaction when working with a peer of the same predicted grade, pre and post the intervention of working with a peer of higher predicted grade, in comparison with a control group who will continue to work with a peer of the same predicted grade.
By investigating the effect on interaction between peers of the same predicted grade pre and post the intervention of working with a peer of higher predicted grade, it will enable a greater understanding of the impact peer collaboration can have on the nature of interaction, and in particular the effect of working with a peer of a higher predicted grade in comparison to working with a peer of the same predicted grade between the pre and post collaborative tests.
The results of this study may support the development of teaching and learning strategies, as it will firstly aim to observe how peer interaction in a set collaborative task changes over time. Secondly, the research aims to understand if interaction is mediated by the type of interactional peer i.e. a peer of the same or higher predicted grade. Thirdly, whether there is a positive effect on interaction when working with a peer of a higher predicted grade, and if so, how stable are the gains in interaction over time i.e. when does the effect of the intervention cease to be evident. Finally, this research will aim to understand how the use of mixed predicted grade pairings and pairings of differing predicted grades can aid learning activities by improving the nature of interaction taking place within a set collaborative task.
The planned analysis will take the form of a pre-test and post-test research format with a control and an experimental group, from which comparisons in interactional behaviour may be observed. The participants of the research will be A Level physical education students, who will conduct a pre-test set peer collaborative task, undergo a six-week intervention phase, and then complete a post-test peer collaborative task. After two weeks of completing the post-test another post-test peer collaborative task will be completed to measure the lasting effects of the intervention, if any effect is indeed evident.
The likely findings of this research are hypothesised as follows; firstly, peer interaction develops in its complexity over time, i.e. the nature of interaction is more complex with more transactional statements from both peers when comparing the pre-test and post-test data. Secondly, that interaction is mediated by the intervention of a peer of a higher predicted grade, meaning that the amount of transactional statements expressed by the intervention group is accelerated due to this encounter as opposed to the control group who continued to work with a peer of the same predicted grade. Thirdly, that this positive effect on interaction is an enduring trait that continues after the completion of the post-test. Finally, this research will support the notion that opportunities for collaboration with peers of a higher predicted grade should be facilitated and sought, as it has a positive effect on the nature of interaction and thus, learning takes place at a more accelerated pace, in comparison to working with a peer of the same predicted grade.
The observations made and the findings of this research may support Vygotsky’s (1978) theory that working with a more able peer (peer with a higher predicted grade) may facilitate the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) whereby interaction with a peer of a higher predicted grade is on a higher level in comparison to working with a peer of the same predicted grade. If there is an observable positive difference in interactional behaviour between the pre-test and post-test in the interventional group in comparison to the control group this will mean that the positive effects of interaction with a peer of higher predicted grade is enduring past the point of intervention. This will, in essence, support the notion that a change in behaviour or learning may take place if opportunities to work with peers of higher predicted grades are sought and facilitated. If no difference is found in interactional behaviour between the pre-test and post-test then this may support the works of Piaget (1985), who suggests that learning is a self-regulatory process, and that interventional strategies of working with a peer of higher predicted grade does not create enduring changes in behaviour, or in other words, learning does not take place as a result of working with a peer of higher predicted grade or as a result of peer interaction in general.
The outcomes and results of this research will be disseminated using a variety of methods including an educational workshop, an academic journal article, a keynote lecture, a magazine article, a blog post and a dedicated website/blog page.
Psychological learning theories based on peer interaction, peer collaboration and learning through social action formed the knowledge base for this investigation with key texts including Doise, Mugny and Perret-Clermont (1975), Azmitia (1998) and Vygotsky (1978).
This research aims to further investigate peer interaction and learning, suggesting practical ideas and guidance for use within education and how to support learners and their learning through the optimisation of peer interaction with peers of the same and differing predicted grades. This research may improve current teaching practice and change how educationalists use peer interaction and collaboration to support pupil learning.