Peer Learning

What is Peer Learning?

The LPpeer-learning model is based on study groups (not courses) that are conceived and developed by our members, who then coordinate (not teach) the study groups in a classroom setting. This structure recognizes that all participants are on equal footing as a topic is explored. Study groups address a wide variety of topics – history, literature, philosophy, science, film, art, music, drama, political science, and many more that allow participants to share a zeal for learning. While the LPcurriculum is academically rigorous, study groups are noncredit, and there are no exams or grades. 

In the classroom

LP2 study groups meet once a week and typically run for 12 weeks in the fall and spring sessions and 6 weeks in the summer session. The program is committed to small study groups and to the unique sense of participation and community that distinguishes this program from other adult education programs. Learning in LP2 is an intellectual and social experience. All members of our peer learning community take their responsibilities seriously, and enthusiastic engagement is an integral element of the program. LP2 remains an exemplary affirmation of the fact that we all have something to contribute and learn at any age.

This collaborative style of learning is especially suitable for older adults, who have rich and varied careers, life experiences, interests and passions and a wish to share them. Learning here is both an intellectual and social experience, where common interests provide a foundation for new friendships. While all are enriched by exploring new areas of interest and sharing their knowledge with others, the coordinators report that putting it all together is especially stimulating and rewarding. 

Study Groups

The LP2 Study Group offerings are wide-ranging in subject matter: Art and Music, Drama and Film, Government, History and Politics, Interdisciplinary, Law, Literature, Philosophy, Poetry, Science and more. Visit our searchable and sortable Study Group History Table which contains the hundreds of Study Groups given since 2014. Or view the most recent Study Group Grid (the semester schedule with links to the course syllabi) to get a taste for the breadth and depth of our offerings.

Study Groups meet for 90 minutes and range in size from 10 to 30+. The format varies: some subjects, such as literature and current events, lend themselves to reading assignments followed by discussion; others, such as art history and documentary film, are best covered by a combination of lecture, visual aids and discussion. Both guest speakers and members with special knowledge of the subject matter may lead part of a Study Group session.

No matter what the teaching method, LP2 students are expected to be active participants. Attendance is taken and members are expected to notify the coordinator if they have to miss a session. In the fall and spring semesters, study groups run for 12 sessions with an optional thirteenth week. A limited number of six-week sessions are also offered; these, like the six-session summer study groups, usually cover more limited or focused topics.

Leading a Study Group

Coordinating a Study Group
Leading a film Study Group discussion.

Study Groups are the core of LP2 and members are expected to lead or co-lead these offerings. Members find that coordinating is the most rewarding way to fully participate in our organization. Envisioning and bringing to life a Study Group is stimulating and leading a lively discussion with peers who are well-informed and enthusiastic is exhilarating. Read In Their Own Words which contains a few member recollections about their own experiences coordinating.

After several semesters of Study Group participation, many members find they are ready to assume the responsibility of planning and leading a Study Group of their own or with one or more co-coordinators. Study Group coordinators choose topics that interest to them – whether they have a special background in the area or simply want to investigate a topic. In the process of gathering readings, films, other resources and developing a syllabus they gain expertise, organize the material, develop questions, and prepare to lead a discussion about the material. Visit Coordinate a Study Group to find out about how to get started and about the many resources and support offered by the Curriculum Committee.

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