Comparing Learning Styles: The Benefits of Peer Collaboration vs Self-Paced Study

Megan Stacy Deane

Posted: July 4, 2024

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There has been much industry chatter about what are the best learning styles that makes the most impact for the learner — collaboratively with your peers, or going solo and learning at your own pace. Although collaborative peer learning and self-paced learning are often viewed as opposite ends of the learning spectrum, we’ve found that a combination of the two hits the sweet spot when it comes to learner success rates. It’s particularly effective in beating the forgetting curve and helping you quickly implement what you’ve learned once you’re back at your desk. 

Let’s take a closer look at what these two learning styles and teaching methods entail so that you can make an informed decision for your team about the best method to acquire critical skills and knowledge. 

Collaborative learning method

What is it?

Also known as cohort-based learning, collaborative learning refers to the traditional educational method in which students attend classes and interact with their peers. It emphasises the importance of group work, where the groups are typically made up of learners who start the programme at the same time and take the same courses.

The benefits

  • Engagement and motivation to learn are enhanced when peers interact with each other.
  • The learning experience is enriched through exposure to diverse perspectives and ideas.
  • Collaborative discussions and teamwork can lead to improved problem-solving, resulting in more creative solutions.
  • Individuals improve their social skills, such as communication, and teamwork, as well as their interpersonal skills.
  • Learning and skills development are enhanced through immediate feedback from peers and instructors.

The drawbacks

  • Coordinating group activities can be challenging due to scheduling conflicts.
  • Different skill levels and comprehension rates can lead to selection bias and uneven participation. 
  • Individuals may become dependent on the group and their success relative to the group’s dynamics and commitment. 
  • Group activities can slow progress down, causing it to take longer to complete tasks. 
  • Differing opinions and work styles can lead to conflict, and these group dynamics can present challenges to instructors. 
  • Collaborative learning is often expensive to set up.

Self-paced learning method

What is it?

Self-paced learning is a learning approach where students work at their own pace, and is often used in online learning programmes. They can start and stop their learning as needed and access the course material at any time.

The benefits

  • It provides flexible learning options for those with tight schedules.
  • The personalised nature of learning means students can focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Because of increased autonomy, it encourages self-discipline and independent learning. 
  • Learners benefit from time efficiency as those who grasp concepts more quickly can progress faster. 
  • It eliminates the stress of keeping up with a group because there is less pressure. 

The drawbacks

  • A lack of interaction with peers means there are fewer opportunities for social and peer learning and knowledge sharing. 
  • Self-paced learners often struggle with motivation, and this method of learning requires a good amount of self-discipline. 
  • Learners often have to wait for feedback, which delays the learning process. 
  • The isolation can lead to feeling lonely.
  • With limited accountability and less structured training schedules, some may struggle to finish their course or achieve their learning goals.

The MasterStart method

By harnessing the latest in learning styles methodology research, combined with our own experience in what works and what doesn’t, MasterStart has developed a unique online learning experience with a three-tiered human support system. This includes getting access to live collaborative sessions led by an industry expert and a learner success coach. 

If you’d like to know more about how our courses can benefit you and your team, contact us right away

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