n South African Journal of Higher Education - "Students doing it for themselves" : the role of informal study groups in a mixed mode teacher education programme : the practice of higher education

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



The School of Education, Training and Development at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg offers a Bachelor of Education (Honours) to practising teachers who already have a four year teaching diploma. The programme is delivered through interactive learning materials and Saturday tutorial sessions. However, interviews and a student survey seem to indicate that informal study groups are as important, if not more important than the formal tutorial sessions for students. 70% of students surveyed are part of an informal study group and a quarter of these groups meet every weekday. Observations of three informal study groups give some insight into the way in which students learn together. The article concludes that while the informal study groups play a very important role in motivating and supporting students, they do not necessarily assist learners in developing a deep approach to learning. In fact for some students, the study groups mean that they in fact do not interact with the learning material at an individual level at all.

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