Children's peer interactions in the classroom: A review of literature, an empirical illustration, and some implications for teacher’s practice
Keywords:peer group, peer tutoring, classroom, social interaction, Teachers' professional knowledge
The paper explores the risks and opportunities of classroom peer interactions on the basis of previous literature and of data from video-ethnographic research in two primary Italian schools. As regards the former, the article reviews previous academic literature, arguing that several studies on peer group work neglected the process of children’s mutual engagement. Conversely, other studies managed to offer a thorough description of the practices that might develop in the peer group, highlighting how peer interactions (a) entail significant opportunities for children’s learning and development, but (b) are also a locus where children might exclude other classmates. This recognition is further demonstrated through an empirical illustration based on data collected during the ethnographic research. Setting out from this appraisal of previous literature and empirical data, the article outlines the pedagogical relevance of peer interactions in the classroom and delineates its implications for teachers’ professional practice.
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