How self-reliant Peer Teaching can be set up to augment learning outcomes for university learners
Motivation to learn is a cornerstone for learning success. It can be promoted through active participation, reference to the topic, and a good learning atmosphere. One way to ensure an active role for the learner is through project-based learning approaches, which offer the opportunity to work on complex tasks that go far beyond classic theoretical modules. A rarely tried approach in an academic context to foster a good learning atmosphere and students’ connection to the topic would be to use highly qualified peers as instructors.As we strive to increase the level of understanding, we explore how peer teaching by specially trained senior student teachers can be set up in application-oriented project modules to augment learning outcomes for engineering university learners. To do so, the modules “Applied Computer-Aided Design” and “Applied Electronic Circuit Design” were chosen. We investigate in which respect the learning process is altered if advanced peers act as teachers. We also discuss what abilities are prerequisites for the students to act as peer teachers. They include experience in team leadership and project management, accompanied by strong technical skills.A survey-based analysis shows that participants significantly improved their technical skills compared to their level before the project. Furthermore, the data clearly indicates that learners felt more comfortable participating actively in the course if it was taught by a peer familiar with specific real-world applications compared to when it was led by professors. In addition, students were motivated because they were able to choose their own project as well as being encouraged and assisted in working on their own. In conclusion, we show that course modules taught by specifically trained and selected peer teachers can be a valuable addition to an overall engineering curriculum.