Planning For Peer Learning

How much time does interaction take?

Peer Interaction

A speaker recently reached out to me about an upcoming session he’s planning. Based upon his experience in one of my sessions, he really wants to be thoughtful about incorporating meaningful interaction to trigger reflection and peer learning.


He asked me a really practical question: During your session, you regularly had us (the audience) confer with a colleague to associate your material with our experience. How long do you give for each of these exercises?

Great question. Here’s what I recommend: The amount of time to allot depends upon the level of response you’re asking for from your learners.

For example:

  • Reflecting: If you’re asking for an opinion, a quick reflective discussion or soliciting a reaction, allow for a 3-5 min discussion with partner and then select a few report outs.
  • Generating: If you’re asking pairs or groups to generate a new idea about what you’re presenting (i.e.: how would you use what we just learned to accomplish x?), allow more time, at least a 5-7 minute discussion with select report out.
  • Collaborating: If you’re asking teams to create something, plan on allowing enough time for them to orient themselves to the assignment, brainstorm their solution, and refine an answer — at least 12-15 minutes or more if the solution has multiple parts.

Setting an expectation for select report outs from pair or group conversations allows you more control as a facilitator. If time is running short, solicit fewer report outs. If you have time to fill, engage participants in more report outs and large group discussion.

Incorporating meaningful interactions that facilitate reflection and practice are powerful ways to engage learners and drive deeper learning. Get more Learning Design Pro Moves in my recent eBook, Engaging Learners.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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