Title: Peer interaction and learning: a study of higher education students initiated group work activity

Authors: Anne Marie Kagwesage

Addresses: Faculty of Arts, Media and Social Sciences, National University of Rwanda, Huye District, P.O. Box 117 Butare, Rwanda, East Africa; Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping, Sweden

Abstract: This study investigates the mediating role of students' initiated study groups. Specifically, the present study looks at how students at a university in Rwanda construct knowledge of their content subjects, through negotiation of meaning in student initiated group work. Interaction Analysis is used to analyse students' naturally occurring verbal and non-verbal communication. Thirty second year students in accounting option participated in this study. They were videotaped while completing an exercise on consignment. Findings suggest that participants in the students initiated informal group work activity engage in negotiation of meaning around the topic under discussion, taking each other's perspective or an opposing view. Negotiating meaning and solving the problems they come across seem to be a collective endeavour towards a shared understanding of the problem under consideration. The study concludes that student initiated group discussion have the potential to promote knowledge construction in content subjects and affords confident students participation.

Keywords: peer interaction; collaborative learning; knowledge construction; group work; higher education; informal learning groups; active learning; group dynamics; Rwanda; university students; communication.

DOI: 10.1504/IJKL.2014.068916

International Journal of Knowledge and Learning, 2014 Vol.9 No.3, pp.179 - 193

Received: 13 Apr 2012
Accepted: 29 Mar 2013

Published online: 20 Apr 2015 *

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