10 SES 10 C, Load and Strain: Observations and Pedagogical Practices
Especially recently attention has been paid to learning in networks and regions, for examples, shared expertise and “innovative knowledge communities” (Tynjälä 2008). Community process can take place also in education. The studies of andragogy show evidence of adults’ self-directed learning (Rachal et.al. 2002; Holton et.al 2009). However Holton et.al (2009) found out, that the adult education is seldom andragogical, because the goals are set beforehand, teachers’ decide the contents and the evaluation criteria’s forms the learning directions. The studies of teaching have been done from teachers’ perspectives to teaching (Prosser & Trigwell, 1999; Wood 2000; Eekelen et.al. 2005). Most of these studies understand teaching as an experience of higher education teachers. From a teacher-centered understanding and a student-centered understanding the focus has been only on teachers’ or students’ perspectives of actions (Posser & Trigwell 1999), even though the student-centered perspective is more complex and leads to better understanding of learning outcomes (Åkerlind 2004; 2008).
The awareness of ‘peerness’ is the basis for peer group processes (Sunwolf, 2008, p. 2.) The members of the peer groups are different persons, who are in the same situation. But peerness can also develop to exploit shared knowledge as in team work. (Sunwolf, 2008, p. 19). But groups can also be challenging learning places, when the interaction with others enforces group processes to the unknown direction (Isaacs 2001, pp.247-256.). The ‘sameness’ can enforce social support also within the groups. Members of the group must consider one another to be equals in at least one particular element which can be shared within the peer group. Members of a peer group share one common factor, which can be age, background, experience, social or other situation, etc. This does not need to be shared at every moment, as long as there is an agreement of the common or effective guidance in higher education requires particular knowledge of small group instruction. (Sunwolf, 2008, pp. 19-20.)
The activities of group work in teacher students’ education are based on ideas of cooperative learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1982); the participants support each other as they learn together. Group activities also aim at empowering individuals and intended learning outcomes are personally meaningful, in response to the needs and personal growth of the individual (Colvin & Ashman, 2010). Peer group can so be seen as a place to share experiences, to get emotional support and feedback from each other, to obtain new perspectives and increase one’s consciousness, to acquire important social skills and confidence in the future, and to effect changes in attitudes and behavior (Coman et al., 2002; Hiltula et al., 2012; Symes 1998). Peer groups are widely and systematically used in the contexts of social and health issues (Kettunen et.al., 2006; Wallin et.al., 2009), advancing new higher education bachelor students to the academic student life (Skaniakos et. al. 2013) and teachers peer support (Heikkinen et.al., 2012; Piirainen & Skaniakos 2013).
The aim of this study was to promote understanding of teacher students’ and teacher tutors peer groups in educational contexts. The research questions are 1. What are the conceptions of the peer group? 2. What is the meaning of peer group in adult education? Both programmes are based on andragogical principles: personalized learning inquiring attitude, dialogue. We use andragogy as an approach to the entire phenomenon (Rachal 2002; Savisevic 1999).
Holton E,F., Swanson L., & Bates R.A. (2009). Toward Development of a Generalized Instrument to Measure Andragogy. Human Resource Development Quarterly;20(2), 169–193. Rachal, J. 2002. Andragogy’s detectives: A critique of the present and A proposal for the future. Adult education quarterly, 52 (3), 210-227. Savicevic, D. 1999. Adult education: From Practice to Theory Building. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Shelley, A. and Seung, Y.C., (2008), Factors that influence informal learning in the workplace. Journal of Workplace Learning. 20(4), 229-244. SunWolf. (2008). Peer Groups. Expanding our study of small group communication. London: Sage. Tynjälä, P. (2008), Perspectives into learning at the workplace. Educational Research Review 3, 130-154. Wenger, E., (1998), Communities of Practice: learning, meaning and identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Åkerlind G.A. (2005). Variation and commonality in phenomenographic research methods. Higher Education Research & Development, 4:321–34. Åkerlind G. A. (2008). Phenomenographic approach to developing academics’ understanding of the nature of teaching and learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 13(6), 633-44.
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