Peer Learning v/s Competition

This particular topic of Peer learning (Collaborative) v/s Competitive learning is often the reason for hours of deliberation and discussion about educators and reasons since the pathway or methodology to gaining education is equally important as the education itself.  Competitive learning is a traditional approach to education. Whereas cooperative learning is a newer concept in most educational systems in India.

WHAT IS COMPETITIVE LEARNING?

It can also be considered as individualistic, as students study individually and complete their own assignments while trying to learn the presented subject matter. Tests, quizzes, examinations, and single-person projects measure each student’s level of understanding and progress, and percentages are given to understand the performance quantitatively. In this type of setting, students ought to become competitive with each other for obtaining the best grades and for recognition. Let’s look at some pros and cons of the same.

The Pros

  • Students are prepared to enter the world awaiting them which is majorly characterized of cut-throat competition. A world where an individual’s performance is measured quantitatively and in comparison, to one’s colleagues, which is one of the ways how a person can climb the ladder to success and recognition.
  • In this system, students are encouraged to put their best foot forward while also emphasizing on independent thinking and effort which are also rewarded.  
  • Students work in teams, but compete against other teams, which can be an effective way to enliven the classroom environment.

The Cons

  • Some students may become frustrated and even apathetic if they fall too far behind the rest of their classmates, thus resulting in lost interest in education and knowledge.
  • Earning high grades and approval may come to be seen as more important than actual learning, in turn questioning the quality of pedagogy.
  • Too much focus on self, may result in lack of empathy for people around.

WHAT IS PEER/ COLLABORATIVE LEARNING?

Students are generally divided into groups with few teammates and are encouraged to work together to maximize their own learning, as well as the others in the group. Activities on a school level include reading their work aloud to each other, critiquing and editing each other’s writing projects. According to the Hindu “Collaboration also helps develop a social support system for learners and establishes a positive atmosphere, which leads to higher productivity.”

The Pros

  • Learners get a hold of cooperative social skills that they will need later in their working lives.
  • Several studies indicate that students can actually learn better when they also help teach other students.
  • Those who might be left behind in a more competitive environment can be brought up to speed by their peers in a more inclusive and accepting atmosphere.

The Cons

  • It maybe difficult for the educator to precisely evaluate the progress and contribution of individual students.
  • Students may not be motivated to strive for excellence if they know their groupmates/peers will do the needful on a project.
  • Students may become exposed to frustration when they don’t receive the rightful acknowledgement for their efforts and the fruits of their labour aren’t recognized.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

There is a need to find a middle ground given the merits and demerits of the two. But what this proves is that our education system definitely needs a revamp and reconsideration. Not one approach is singly-handedly good to be a defining factor. Students must learn to work harmoniously with others as well as work well on an individual basis. As ultimately life in school or outside consists of both.

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