Learning Partnerships

The following information regarding Learning Partners is courtesy Dr. John Stathakos (see below for contact information).

 Learning Partnerships: Purpose

The purpose of implementing Learning Partnerships (LPs) is to facilitate learning in a symbiotic manner whereby partners actively assist each other in attaining their learning and course goals.  More specifically, LPs attempt to stimulate, promote and engage each student in effective problem solving, reflection, and other forms of higher order thinking with their partners. In doing so, a strong online learning/research community may develop whereby frequent intellectual exchanges and stimulating academic discourse creates new understandings, not only between Learning Partners, but may also transfer over to the larger context of the computer conference.

By implementing Learning Partners as a collaborative design model, traditional problems to online learning may be prevented or better managed. Some problems are:

 Learning Partnerships: Definition

A Learning Partnership is the formation of a learning unit between two students who purposefully assist each other to acquire the skills, knowledge, and attributes necessary to attain one's learning goals.  Learning Partners actively, yet voluntarily, seek each other to facilitate many aspects of their learning.

Learning Partners or cooperative dyads offer numerous pedagogical advantages. The research literature indicates that cooperation among peers produces better results than individual efforts--greater interaction is associated with improvements in achievement (O'Donnell & Dansereau, 1992). Learning Partners outperform individuals in measures of acquisition of descriptive and technical information, and on various performance measures.  As well, Learning Partners build trust and connectedness between learners online (Hiltz, 1994) and students in Learning Partners successfully transfer their skills to subsequent individual tasks.

Learning Partners provide the following additional advantages in the classroom: (a) assist in developing a collegial learning environment and knowledge building community; (b) provide opportunity for peer mentoring and collaboration, activities which may help improve academic performance and course satisfaction; (c) stimulate reflection; and (d) attend to needs within the socio-affective domain, such as the sharing and articulation of course-related frustrations, anxiety, successes and failures (Andrusyszyn, 1996; Bonk, Malikowski, Angeli, & East, 1998; George, 1994; Griffin, Saberton, & Robinson, 1985; Oliver, Omari, & Herrington, 1998). All of these factors promote meaningful and lasting knowledge development.

How to Pick your Learning Partner

In a Learning Partnerships study conducted at OISE/UT to a sample of 96 pre-service teachers, it was noted that there are qualities important to consider when selecting a Learning Partner.  The pre-service teachers indicated the following traits as important qualities when selecting a Learning Partner: The study was conducted in 2000 by John Stathakos, (in coordination with Dr. Lynn Davie).  John convocated with a PhD in   Computer Applications, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE/UT.

Becoming a Learning Partner will not only assist with cognitive activities, but on a practical level, will help everyone get to know someone in the class on a deeper level, and will greatly facilitate the process of selecting partners for future collaborative activities as the course progresses.
Please note that Learning Partner interactions are voluntary, i.e., you are not forced to work with or actively seek out your Learning Partner if you do not want to for non-collaborative activities! However, everyone is asked to be open to this collaborative design and use it to your advantage throughout the course as often as you and your Learning Partner see fit.


           Andrusyszyn, M. A. (1996). Facilitating reflection in computer mediated learning
      environments. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Toronto: Toronto, Ontario.

           Bonk, C. J., Malikowski, S., Angeli, C., & East, J. (1998). Web-based conferencing for
      pre-service teacher education: Electronic discourse from the field. Journal of Educational
      Computing Research, 19(3), 269-306.

           George, P. G. (1994). The effectiveness of cooperative learning strategies in multicultural
      university classrooms. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 5(1), 21-29.

           Griffin, V., Robinson, J. E., & Saberton, S. (1985). Learning partnerships: Interdependent
      learning in adult education. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

           Hiltz, S. R. (1994). The virtual classroom: Learning without limits via computer networks.
      Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

           O'Donnell, A. M., & Dansereau, D. F. (1992). Scripted cooperation in student dyads: A method
      for analyzing and enhancing academic learning and performance. In R. Hertz-Lazarowitz and N.
      Miller (Eds.), Interaction in Cooperative Groups (pp. 120-141). New York, NY: Cambridge
      University Press.

           Oliver, R., Omari, A., & Herrington, J. (1998). Exploring student interactions in collaborative
      world wide computer-based learning environments. Journal of Educational Multimedia and
      Hypermedia, 7(2/3), 263-287.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments about the theory regarding Learning Partners, you may want to contact John Stathakos regarding his doctoral research about Learning Partners, his e-mail address is as follows: jstathakos@oise.utoronto.ca and his doctoral thesis is in the OISE library.