Academic journal article Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

Those Who Teach Learn: Near-Peer Teaching as Outdoor Environmental Education Curriculum and Pedagogy

Academic journal article Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

Those Who Teach Learn: Near-Peer Teaching as Outdoor Environmental Education Curriculum and Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Introduction

Near-peer teaching (NPT) is used within higher education for its efficacy relating to both student teachers and learners (Falchikov, 2003; Topping, 1996). In particular, NPT is used within health and medical courses (see Burgess, Dornan, Clarke, Menezes, & Mellis, 2016; Secomb, 2008; Ten Cate & Durning, 2007a) as well as education-focused courses (see Topping, 1996). Our review of higher education NPT research reveals a strong focus on health and medical courses in particular, with minimal examination of the practice in the field of outdoor environmental education (OEE). Whilst there is considerable variation in the settings for the studies reviewed, the findings, in conjunction with the results of the OEE case study examined herein, assist in understanding the potential usefulness of NPT in the context of higher education. We begin by considering some distinct ways that NPT is employed in higher education before offering an example specific to OEE. For the purposes of this paper, nearpeer teachers (NP teachers) refer to more experienced students involved in teaching less experienced students, and near-peer learners (NP learners) refers to the less experienced students who are being taught/ tutored by NP teachers.

Peer-assisted learning and cross-level NPT come in many forms and typologies. Falchikov (2003) differentiates examples of these forms by desired outcomes and aims (see Figure 1). Below we highlight the characteristics of these forms in terms of the aims of primarily curriculum (for example, proctoring and supplemental instruction) and/or enculturation (mentoring and parrainage) to provide an understanding of the range of NPT options.

In proctoring, students who are more senior work individually with less advanced students to assist them gain proficiency of the syllabus; it is primarily curriculum focused. Topping (1996) describes the proctor's role as a "checker, tester, and recorder, to ensure tutee mastery" (p. 329). Proctors "practice and rehearse the skills they have acquired during the preceding years of study" (Goldschmid & Goldschmid, 1976, p. 18) to support other students. They are often specifically chosen for the role. The one-to-one nature of proctoring differs from supplemental instruction (SI), which seeks to add additional opportunities for student instruction via a one-to-many model. SI has been characterised as the "best known (and used) of such cross-level schemes" (Falchikov, 2003, p. 36). It often utilises "successful later-year tertiary students to facilitate peer-learning sessions" which may involve "discussion around course content and related study skills," as well as preparation of "learning activities" (Dawson, van der Meer, Skalicky, & Cowley, 2014, pp. 611-612). Congos and Schoeps (1993) highlight that SI is frequently applied in courses that involve new and challenging content, intermittent feedback and assessment, and a prevalence of lectures over more student-centred learning activities - with the aim of reducing dropout rates and failures within these higher education contexts. With SI, instructors are often deliberately chosen and the focus is targeted, concentrating on remediating academic skills and curriculum knowledge, with the setting usually classroom in style and voluntary for the learners.

Two further forms of NPT are mentoring and parrainage. These are more concerned with enculturation rather than instruction. Mentoring emphasises a "one-to-one supportive relationship between the student and another person of greater ability, achievement or experience" (Topping in Falchikov, 2003, p. 40). In addition to academic intervention, a mentor assists a student with socialisation into the higher education context by helping them understand the departmental and disciplinary culture. This form of NPT is concerned not only with academic performance but also the personal academic growth of the mentee (Falchikov, 2003). Parrainage (French for godfather/sponsorship) is similar to mentoring but is particularly focused on socialising less senior students into all aspects of a new learning environment (Goldschmid & Goldschmid, 1976). …

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