Peer Knowledge Sharing Outside the Undergraduate STEM Classroom

Ashley Gess, Songze Li, Shihao Zhou, Samuel Doak


Student interest is associated with persistence in STEM courses of study (Maltese, Melki, & Wiebke, 2014). If peers decide, of their own accord, to discuss knowledge among each other outside of the classroom context, the behavior is indicative of deepening interest in the information being shared (Renninger & Hidi, 2002). Understanding outside classroom knowledge sharing behaviors among peers involved in a STEM course may help educators construct learning contexts that promote interest and persistence in STEM subjects. To that end, this study examined two important research questions: (1) what are the key factors that influence peer to peer knowledge sharing outside the classroom? and (2) what are the methods the student use to share content knowledge? In order to explore these questions, a qualitative study was designed to explore knowledge sharing between peers outside the classroom. A semi-structured interview protocol with eight students from a Mid-Atlantic community college was conducted to explore students’ perceptions of knowledge sharing between peers. Data were coded and analyzed by a group of researchers and themes were identified and theoretical and practical implications of the study were recorded. Several key facilitators of knowledge sharing were identified: self-efficacy, interpersonal relationships, interpersonal similarity and media richness. Implications for teachers are presented. Limitations and future research are included in the end of the study. 

Keywords: knowledge sharing, peer to peer, peer learning, knowledge transfer, content knowledge, college science teaching, community college


Knowledge sharing; peer to peer; peer learning; knowledge transfer; content knowledge; college science teaching; community college

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