Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

41st SEFI Conference, 16-20 September 2013, Leuven, Belgium


Collaborative learning is a key, and complementary, component of student-centred enquiry-based pedagogy. Today, many educators understand that students learn effectively when working together with their peers to construct new knowledge. Many teachers are working to help their students develop such ability. Teachers do this to help students better understand the relevance of new content, connect new ideas into existing frameworks of understanding, and construct new neurological pathways and connect synapses in their brains. In addition, group learning has been shown to increase students’ critical thinking skills, creativity, collaborative behaviours, understanding of ethics, and the like. In the literature, attention has been paid to how groups of students can most effectively work together. Even greater attention has been paid to how teams work in business and industry. On the other hand, relatively little research has been reported about how groups of faculty can enhance their own knowledge and performance by embracing the concept of group learning—by learning in groups themselves. At Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) group learning is becoming the norm among teachers as well as students. As a result, DIT provides an ideal place to study the dynamics of group learning among teachers as well as among students. Moreover, in this particular institution, it is also possible to assess learning that occurs across groups—learning that filters its way up from the classroom into programmes, colleges, and administrative decision-making. This paper summarizes formal research into three aspects of the group-learning movement that has emerged at DIT. The overall project involves data collection and analysis of: (1) a faculty peer-learning group that facilitated (2) student peer-learning groups in classes across the electrical engineering curriculum as part of (3) a broad institutional program designed to support professional development and enhance learning and teaching. The project summarized here uses interpretive, qualitative methods to investigate the dynamics of group learning.