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Peer-assisted learning in a Year 7 classroom: Do structured group-work strategies impact upon the learning and engagement of pupils studying Earth Science?

Samantha Jane Armsby

Secondary PGCE  Science / Biology (2009-2010)



The general shift in education towards pupil-centred learning provides a platform for class teachers to integrate more structured group-work strategies during science lessons. This action research intervention considers the impact of peer-assisted learning, in the form of practical and discursive group-work activities and ‘Complex instruction’ (specifically role allocation), on a Year 7 class studying Earth Science. Although inconclusive in terms of proving an impact of structured group-work strategies on the learning of scientific concepts, a statistically significant relationship is found between the introduction of role-allocated group-work activities and an increased engagement in science lessons, with particular reference to the ‘Resource Manager’ role in practical situations. Differentiated groups with allocated roles are also shown to encourage peer-discussion and promote the co-construction of knowledge and higher-order thinking. However, the development in pupil behaviour needed to facilitate group-work took time and reminders. It is vital that pupils and teachers are trained in group-work strategies and pupil expectations and roles are clearly defined.

Copyright: © 2011. This paper is copyright of the author. (Please read the Journal's copyright information page by using the menu to the left of this page.)

The full paper is available for download as a pdf file: 113-144-armsbys.pdf

Citation: Armsby, S.J.(2011)  Peer assisted learning in a Year 7 classroom. Do structured group work strategies impact upon the learning and engagement of pupils studying Earth Science, Journal of Trainee Teacher Educational Research, Volume 2 , pp-113-144. (Downloaded from, [date of access])