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Mar 22, 2017 01:03 PM EDT

New research found that the endorsement of learning materials by a student's peers is more motivating than inspiration offered by a teacher. The researchers from Michigan State University found that college students were more to write better essays and earn a higer class grade when peers explained the importance of the learning material.

The study was published in the journal International Journal of Educational Research on Tuesday. The study was conducted in an online college course and is the first to investigate the effects of peer and instructor rationales on student outcomes over an entire semester, let alone in an online setting.

Instructors and teachers are essential to education but the research showed that peers are better able to tap into and translate the subject matter.

Cary Roseth, associate professor of educational psychology at Michigan State said that it gives the material meaning when students hear how their peers relate to the course material. It gives a sens of purpose that goes beyond memorization and when students hear a peer's story they can see what they want to be in the future.

Students in an introductory psychology course were included in the study. Some of the students received material rationale from peers while others received rationale from instructors. Both justifications were scripted and other students did not receive material inspiration.

Those show had peer inspiration earned a 92 percent in the course and those who had material rationale from teachers scored an 86 percent. Those who did not receive any rationale earned a 90 percent grade according to UPI.

Researchers found that receiving instructor rationale led to lower final grades compared to the peer rationale and no ratinale conditions. It's possible that the fact that instructors control grades and tell the students what do to, may be working against their efforts to increase their students' appreciation of why the class is important.

Follows teacher, peers, students, Michigan State University, International Journal of Educational Research, online college course, rationales, Cary Roseth, introductory psychology course, Grade, instructor rationale, peer rationale
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