Activity: Cooperative learning and peer learning to improve students’ transversal skills

Transversal Skills:
Creative and critical thinking
Learning to learn
Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills

Teaching- Learning Approach:

Co-operational learning, peer learning and student-centred learning

   Miller Pyramid

Learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • Share information in an organized and effective way. The student is able to show empathy and use non-verbal communication and active listening.
  • Self-reflect, evaluate one’s own actions and emotions, and take responsibility for own actions. Has improved professional and social-emotional responsibilities.
  • Develop positive and emotionally safe interaction, and to develop and co-create teamwork. 
  • Recognize and understand relationships and to deal with uncertainty. 
  • Acquire, process, produce, and evaluate information critically and from the perspectives of different fields and decisions, taking into account both individual and community perspectives.  
  • Develop innovative solutions to answer different questions and to create new and productive, worthwhile ideas; to elaborate and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximize their creative efforts. 
  • Self-report one’s feelings, thoughts, and effort concerning a certain task in order to perform tasks more effectively. The student is able to identify learning outcomes, relate them to prior knowledge, and manage their own learning process. The student has the capacity for self-assessment. 
  • Plan, monitor and assess one’s understanding and performance on a certain task. The student is able to use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a new task, and to transfer what they have learned from one context to another, or from a previous task to a new task. 


Brief description of the activity

This activity consists of planning, implementation and evaluation of a multidisciplinary and multicultural peer-learning session carried out by students. The student-centred and co-operational learning perspective states that knowledge is constructed by students, while the lecturer has the role of being a facilitator of learning. The aim of the peer-learning session is to introduce transversal skills to a multidisciplinary exchange student group and reflect together their meaning for wellbeing in studies and in work. The idea is not only to increase knowledge of transversal skills, but also to raise awareness of them.

In the peer-learning session, the international and multidisciplinary student group learns transversal skills and teamwork by utilizing creative methods. The students in charge also facilitate the evaluation of the peer-learning session. Finally, the students present the whole process of planning, implementation and evaluation, as well as self-reflection of the learning outcomes to the facilitating teacher and their student colleagues in a classroom as part of the main course, approximately one week after the session. This is an important part of peer-learning because time is needed for reflecting on the learning experience. 

The topic of transversal skills is suitable for the purpose of getting to know other disciplines and cultures, because it is common in different disciplines and unites them! Students’ improved knowledge and skills, but also shifts in their mindsets and world-views, are important results of peer learning (Bunting 2020). 


Activity plan: step by step


Before the activity

The students form a group of four persons, plan their schedule for the process, and agree on the different tasks and rules for their teamwork. Each student studies transversal skills and facilitating methods and discusses findings together with the other students and the facilitating teacher. The students write a description of how they will introduce their findings to the multidisciplinary exchange student group, facilitate the creative action and evaluation of the session. The students make an interesting and appealing peer-learning session invitation to the exchange students and prepare the classroom/space for the session. 


During the activity

Step 1: For getting to know each other, the students facilitate a warm-up for the multidisciplinary exchange student group.

Step 2: The students present their findings on the concept of transversal skills and wellbeing in studies and in work for the multidisciplinary exchange student group. 

Step 3: The students prepare three interactive and creative points/workstations into which participating exchange students are divided. Every interactive point has a different subject: 1. Critical and creative thinking, 2. Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills, 3. Learning to learn. There are different kinds of creative tasks in every point/workstation, for example group discussions or drawing and painting together (for example 20 minutes per workstation). 

Step 4: Feedback. The students facilitate an evaluation of the session: 1) What have you learned, and 2) what kind of feedback would you like to give to the arrangers of the session? (for example, by ‘post -it’ notes). 


After the activity

Make a short debriefing: ask students about their emotions and how they succeeded in teamwork. How did they feel to have feedback from other students?  

The students make a (20 minutes) presentation of the process of planning, implementation and evaluation of the session, as well as a self-reflection of their learning outcomes to the teacher and their student colleagues. The student colleagues and the facilitating teacher ask questions and give feedback on the process and the presentation (10–15 minutes). Additionally, reporting can be accomplished by writing a blog or making a podcast.  


Role of teacher(s)

The facilitating teacher introduces the process of co-operational learning to the students and guides them to form a home group. The teacher supports the students to find relevant literature and facilitates one or two meetings in which the students present and discuss their findings and their plan for the peer-learning session, helps to invite the participating exchange students (10–20 persons) and helps the students to have all the material and supplies they need for the session. The teacher needs to sensitively encourage and support the students throughout the learning process (student-centredness).  The facilitating teacher is available for the activity. The teacher intervenes if undesirable behaviour is detected during the session.

Evaluation tool

Transversal skills are difficult to evaluate, particularly among big groups of students. Therefore, in this section we propose a tool for students to self-assess the development of these skills. The tool is divided into three dimensions: suitability of the learning activity, level of achievement of learning outcomes, and transferability to professional settings. You can adapt the dimensions and/or indicators that you use according to your teaching-learning context and needs. 


Evaluation tool to self-assess the development of skills during the activity

For each of the following statements, select the best answer on a scale from 1 to 4, where 1 means “Not at all” and 4 indicates “Yes, totally”. N/A means “not applicable”.

  1 2 3 4 N/A
DIMENSION 1. Suitability of the learning activity
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of time          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of resources (material resources, physical space, etc.)          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of content          
I found this learning activity engaging          
I found this learning activity challenging          
I found this learning activity disruptive in comparison with other learning methodologies          
I found this learning activity useful to learn [add the subject]          
I found this learning activity useful to retain knowledge          
This learning activity motivated me to deepen my knowledge of [add subject or hard skill]          
This learning activity allowed me to feel emotions that would be rather difficult to experience with other learning methodologies          
I would recommend this learning activity to others          
DIMENSION 2. Level of achievement of learning outcomes
This learning activity helped me to improve… 
…my ability to [add a row for each learning outcome of the activity that you performed, both related to hard and transversal skills]          
DIMENSION 3. Transferability to professional settings
After this learning activity…
…I will be better able to apply what I learned to my reality (everyday life, classroom, professional life)          
…I feel more capable to perform in a professional setting          
…I feel I can make better choices regarding professional situations          
…I feel more prepared and self-confident to address professional situations          

OPEN QUESTION – Use this space to explain whatever you think is remarkable from the learning activity, including strengths, weaknesses, improvements, potential uses, feelings or dilemmas you encountered during the activity. 




Download evaluation tool in pdf here.




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Our Score
           Author / Creator

      Eija Raatikainen


      Katriina Rantala-Nenonen

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