INTO THE LIGHT: THE ROLE OF PEER FEEDBACK AND INTERACTION ON ACADEMIC SKILLS FOR MATURE, PART-TIME HE LEARNERS
Piaget (1932) claimed that ‘Criticism is borne of discussion and discussion is only possible amongst equals’ This action research study set out to identify how peer feedback and interaction supports mature, part-time HE learners in developing academic skills and keeping them focused and on track. Part-time learners often interact with their peers less often than their full-time counterparts. By creating opportunities for learners to engage in planned discussions with their peers, who could be regarded as their equals, the impact that this had on their writing, thinking, critical and analytical skills as well as their confidence and motivation was explored. The findings reveal that the learners value the process of giving and receiving feedback which they believed improved their critical thinking skills and gave them confidence and reassurance that they were on track with their studies. It was evident, however, that there were drawbacks to the process when learners did not consider themselves to be equal and the quality of the feedback varied. It was found that there was a correlation between learners who gave helpful feedback and achieved high marks and those who gave limited feedback or chose not to participate and achieved lower marks. The findings lead to the development of further strategies to support learners in both giving and using valuable feedback in order to improve academic skills.