The potential of peer assisted learning as a tool for facilitating social and academic integration
AbstractResearch into the transition of first year students in higher education (HE) confirms that student integration into the academic community is a primary condition for student success (Borglum & Kubala, 2000; Tinto & Pusser, 2006; Tovar, Simon & Lee, 2009; Stebleton, Soria & Huesman, 2014). It is also crucial that it is combined with peer support if students are going to settle into university life (Hamshire, Jack, Prowse, & Wibberley, 2015a). This article seeks to explore the potential value and purposes of peer assisted learning (PAL) as a tool to increase the social and academic integration of first year university students. Focus group interviews (n=16) were conducted between the spring and autumn of 2013 with first-year students (n=93) enrolled in the Faculty of Educational Sciences (Psychology and Educational sciences) at the Free University of Brussels. By using the method of appreciative inquiry (AI), respondents suggested that peer-assisted learning methods are important tools for enhancing social and academic integration.ÃÂ In this sense, tutoring and mentoring need to address specific criteria on at least two organisational dimensions (Topping & Ehly, 2001):ÃÂ (a) objectives of the subject and (b) contact installation. This article aims to prompt further discussion on the potential, value and purposes of peer-assisted learning programmes for integration.
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