Students prefer opening up to peers, not teachers

National 2 minutes, 25 seconds

BELAIT

PEER learning and guidance piloted in several schools in the district, through an intervention programme, may offer an effective route towards affecting behavioural change in students with motivation issues.

Speaking to The Brunei Times at the closing day of the “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall” programme at Pengiran Jaya Negara Secondary School this week, programme committee members said that the final phase activities already revealed encouraging signs of positive response from targeted students towards their mentors who were also students.

“From the second phase, we can see a lot of positive changes from the student leaders. Before this, most of them were quite shy when we asked them to do something and now we are giving them big responsibilities… they now can speak in public to their peers without nervousness,” said Fadhlul Haadi Hj Dollah, a teacher from Sayyidina Ali Secondary School.

“I’m quite surprised by their achievement,” he added.

The Head of Student Affairs at Anthony Abell College, Md Syafiq Al-Lutfiy Ahmad, said: “The second and previous phase of the programme was where we trained eight students from the five participating schools in “Cluster Five”, grooming them to become student leaders who would then participate in the third and final phase of the programme, where they would replicate the activities from the second phase with 100 “at-risk” students.”

The final phase is fully managed by the student leaders and teachers only act as observers, he added.

Student leaders were selected from potential candidates, generally from prefect, student council and the student peer counselors.

“At-risk” students were those identified as having disciplinary or attitudinal issues, such as low attendance records or low motivation to learn.

While it was too early to observe long-term impact in terms of behavioural or attitude change with the “at-risk” target group, the teachers felt that the willingness for the students to interact with their peers presented an opportunity for positive results.

“There is two-way communication observed, not just students taking instruction but also giving feedback to the leaders, which is different from a student-teacher interaction… if we are the ones conducting the event, it would be different.

“The shyness and lack of openness, for example. Students are closed up and you would notice one-way interaction if communicating with the teacher,” Md Syafiq said.

“Mirror, Mirror On The Wall” was implemented in early 2014, staggered over three phases.

The first preparatory phase briefed teachers and leadership from five schools in the district belonging to “Cluster Five”, while the second recruited 40 students to be trained as student leaders.

The final phase saw the student leaders replicate the activities learnt, managing 100 students from the five schools identified as being “at risk”.

The programme originated from a school in Singapore and its results were observed during a learning visit in 2013 by Acting Principal of AAC, Hjh Halizawati Hj Kepli. Returning to Brunei, she adapted its design for local implementation in 2014.

The Brunei Times