The benefits of peer learning

Harriet R Tenenbaum and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to examine results from 71 studies about the effects of peer interaction on learning. To be included in the review, studies had to include a comparison group. Peer interaction was defined as small groups of pupils working together to achieve common goals of learning. Approaches using more formal training, such as cooperative learning or peer tutoring, were excluded. The majority of the studies were conducted in the US and UK and included more than 7,000 children between ages 4 and 18.

Published in Journal of Educational Psychology, their findings suggest that peer interaction was effective in promoting learning in comparison with other types of learning conditions (effect size = +0.40) across different gender and age groups. In contrast, children working in peer groups were not more effective than children working individually with adults. There was also no effect for group size, with findings suggesting that children learn the same amount in groups of two children and in larger groups. Moderator analyses also indicated that peer interaction is more effective when children are specifically instructed to reach consensus than when no instruction is given.

The researchers conclude that although peer interaction does facilitate learning, the conditions and means by which this happens varies and depends on a number of moderating factors. They say the findings indicate that the benefits of peer interaction can be realised by educators if they create opportunities not just for discussion, but also for the negotiation of a shared understanding.

Source: How effective is peer interaction in facilitating learning? A meta-analysis (December 2019), Journal of Educational Psychology

The impact of peer assessment on academic achievement

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Department of Education conducted a meta-analysis to examine what effect peer assessment interventions have on academic performance.

Published in Educational Psychology Review, the meta-analysis evaluated the effect of peer assessment on academic performance when compared to no assessment and teacher assessment. Fifty-four studies were included in the meta-analysis, of which 45% were with school-age pupils. Studies had to examine the effect of peer assessment on non-self-reported measures of academic achievement and have a control or comparison group, using no assessment, teacher assessment, or self-assessment.

The findings from the analysis indicated that overall there was a significant positive effect of peer assessment on academic performance compared with no assessment (effect size = +0.31) and teacher assessment (ES = +0.28). The effect size was similar when peer assessment was compared with self-assessment (ES = +0.23) though this result was not significant. The effect sizes were slightly larger for school-age children than undergraduates. The analysis concludes that peer assessment can be effective across a wide range of subject areas, education levels, and assessment types.

Source: The impact of peer assessment on academic performance: A meta-analysis of control group studies (December 2019), Educational Psychology Review, doi:10.1007/s10648-019-09510-3

How to make a systematic review’s meta-analysis high quality

Terri Piggott at Loyola University Chicago and Joshua Polanin at American Institutes for Research have published a Methodological guidance paper: High-quality meta-analysis in a systematic review, now appearing on Review of Educational Research’s Online First website.

A meta-analysis synthesises the quantitative findings of many studies on a given topic. The guidance paper outlines the characteristics that make a meta-analysis in a systematic review high quality, discussing unbiased screening and coding procedures, establishing a protocol for carrying out a review, and then discussing in depth the best practices for computing effect sizes and reporting the data.

The authors conclude that “the role of researchers using systematic review and meta-analysis is to produce both high-quality analyses and to interpret those results in ways accessible to a wide audience. A high-quality systematic review and meta-analysis is difficult and time-consuming to produce; it is worth the effort to ensure that the results inform future research and policymaking through clear discussion of the results. Researchers should consider preparing different summaries of their review tailored to their audience of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners.”

Source: Methodological guidance paper: High-quality meta-analysis in a systematic review (September 2019), Review of Educational Research

What are the best self-regulated learning strategies for Chinese pupils?

Self-regulated learning has been regarded as essential for effective learning. Research suggests that self-regulated learning is associated with academic performance, but different self-regulated learning strategies are not equally effective. Addressing the gap that occurred for Chinese pupils because few studies conducted in Asia were included in a previous meta-analysis, a meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Psychology has investigated what the most effective strategies for Chinese pupils were.

Using Chinese academic databases, Junyi Li and colleagues analysed 264 independent samples that involved 23,497 participants from 59 studies. In order to be included in this meta-analysis, studies had to be conducted in real teaching situations; studies based on online learning environments were excluded. Furthermore, participants had to be primary, middle, or secondary school pupils in China. The effect sizes of self-regulated learning strategies on academic achievement were analysed. The results showed that: 

  • Among the self-regulated learning strategies, self-efficacy (ES = +0.70), self-evaluation (ES = +0.72), and task strategies (ES = +0.60) had relatively large effect sizes on academic achievement.
  • On the other hand, the effect sizes of goal orientation (ES = +0.09) and attributions (ES = +0.27) were relatively small. 
  • The effect sizes of self-regulated learning on science (ES = +0.45) were larger than those on language (ES = +0.29).

The authors suggest that task strategies supported learning by reducing a task to its key parts, that self-evaluation helped learners compare results with their goals, and that self-efficacy helped learners to use their resources. 

Source: What are the effects of self-regulation phases and strategies for Chinese students? A meta-analysis of two decades research of the association between self-regulation and academic performance (December 2018), Frontiers in Psychology

The effect of screen time on academic performance

A meta-analysis examining the evidence between overall screen time, specific screen-based activities, and academic performance found that overall screen time is not related to children’s and teens’ academic achievement, yet the type of screen time is.

Mireia Adelantado-Renau and colleagues in Spain found that TV and video game time greater than two hours a day was associated with poorer academic achievement, while internet and mobile phone time was not. In addition, the negative effects on academic performance were larger for teens than for children.

The meta-analysis included 58 studies from 23 countries that met its inclusion criteria, encompassing the academic achievement of 106,000 4–18 year olds (assessed by school grades, standardised tests, and academic failure). Subgroup analysis was conducted between children and teens. In children (4–12 years old), the length of TV watching negatively affected performance in language (effect size = -0.20) and maths (ES= -0.36); in teens (12–18 years old), longer TV duration affected language (ES= -0.18) and maths (ES= -0.21). Playing video games also negatively impacted teens’ scores (ES= -0.16), but did not affect the scores of younger children (ES=+0.04).

The authors suggest that these findings offer evidence that decreasing TV and video game time might be an effective strategy in improving academic achievement in children and teens.

Source: Association between screen media use and academic performance among children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis (September 2019), JAMA Pediatrics

Printed vs digital text: A meta-analysis

A meta-analysis in the Journal of Research in Reading has synthesised the findings of studies comparing print and digital text regarding time required to read, reading comprehension and readers’ perceptions of their comprehension. Researcher Virginia Clinton performed a systematic literature review, only including studies using random assignment and that were published between 2008 and 2018, yielding 29 reports of 33 studies for analysis. She found that readers require equal amounts of time to read print and digital text, although screen reading negatively impacted reading comprehension (effect size = -0.25). Readers were more accurately able to judge their comprehension on paper (effect size = +0.20) than on screen.

The negative effect on performance for reading text from screens rather than paper did not vary for readers who were adults or children (under 18). However, the author suggests this finding should be interpreted with caution because there were more studies with adult participants (26) than child participants (7).

Best Evidence in Brief reported on an earlier meta-analysis solely examining reading comprehension, whose results also favoured printed text.

Source: Reading from paper compared to screens: A systematic review and meta‐analysis (May 2019), Journal of Research in Reading, volume 42, issue 2