Peer-mediated Instruction: Assisted Performance in the Primary Classroom

Apr. 15, 2008

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Volume 14, Issue 2
April 2008 , pages 129 - 142

Peer collaboration has been supported in research as an effective instructional strategy. However, education researchers lack a full understanding of the types of scaffolding that take place in peer groups. Little research is available that documents what happens during the small group interactions. This case study took place in one teacher's multi-age primary classroom in the southeastern region of the USA. It examined how elementary students provided scaffolding to one another during collaborative classroom activities.

Specifically, this investigation explored the ways in which elementary students provide assistance to one another during academic tasks and examined the status of the children, in terms of more or less capabilities, during the collaborative events. Vygotsky asserts that for learning to occur, assistance must be provided by a more capable person. The research findings suggest that peers provide scaffolding for one another in various ways. In this investigation, these primary students utilized questioning, providing feedback, and instructing as the primary methods of scaffolding during the learning experiences. This study also supports assertions that when students are allowed to pose questions and provide feedback to one another during peer collaboration, they help to establish instruction in their zone of proximal development.

Updated: Nov. 19, 2008