Date of Award

Fall 11-4-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences


Health and Medical Sciences


Terrence F. Cahill, Ed.D

Committee Member

Deborah DeLuca, J.D.

Committee Member

Genevieve Pinto Zipp, Ed.D


peer learning, learning mechanisms


Kindergarten aged children are now expected to interact with peers in their classrooms for the purpose of gaining new knowledge. Since children spend a great deal of time in the company of other children, it is assumed that the children know how to learn from each other. Previously studied have been mechanisms used by adults during peer learning, but not the mechanisms used by children during unscripted peer learning interactions. Knowing the specific mechanisms used during these interactions will help to identify foundational skills necessary for successful peer learning. This study contributes to the understanding of the specific verbal and non-verbal peer learning mechanisms that are used, the ways in which these mechanisms are used, and how children react in response to each other during peer learning tasks.

Using a descriptive/explorative, serial case study design allowed for naturalistic observation of the dyadic interactions. The participants were found to use the mechanisms of observation and peer feedback. Unanticipated observations were asking for clarification from an adult and utilizing parallel play instead of working cooperatively during the dyadic interaction. Knowing the mechanisms used during peer learning and how children are working with a peer will help to develop techniques to strengthen peer learning interactions.