• Marc

Learning Together Improves Results

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

You and your friend are in a foreign language class. You are an absolute gun at speaking the language, but you find reading comprehension really difficult. On the other hand, your friend on is amazing at reading comprehension but struggles to speak the language.

You have three options:

  1. Wait for a very long time for the very busy classroom teacher to help you individually?

  2. Continue to struggle through your reading comprehension and risk making mistakes?

  3. Ask your friend to teach you, and in turn, offer to teach them?

Which Would You Choose?

While there is no wrong answer per se, research suggests that option 3 is the most effective and proven way of improving your skills. This collaborative learning strategy is where students instruct and support their peers to consolidate and improve learning.

Teaching Is The Ultimate Test Of Your Knowledge & Competence

The primary benefits of this reciprocal teaching approach are that it enables you to consolidate the knowledge and skills you already have and helps you identify areas of your learning that you need to brush up on. If you are struggling to teach something to another person you may have identified a gap in your ability or knowledge that needs improvement.

Secondly, this approach allows you to communicate with each other in ways that you can understand. Due to your age and shared experiences of the world, you are more likely to use language and explanations that make it easier for you to teach, communicate and understand each other.

How To Use This Approach

This reciprocal teaching technique can be done in lots of ways. Here are two common approaches:

Ask For Feedback

Constructive feedback is the breakfast of champions. Give fellow students your work and ask them to provide constructive advice on it. It is likely that they will be able to see something that you can’t see in your work, like where it needs improving or something where you've done well. In return, you would give constructive comments to them about their work. The feedback can be verbal or written down in a rubric or specialised feedback template of your choice.

Have A Weekly Challenge

Form a study group of around 4-5 people, and hold a regular group meeting. Every student should come to the gathering with something that they need help with. For example, it could be a really challenging maths problem or a complex English essay question. Each student presents his or her “challenge” to the group. If someone in the group has mastered the problem, question or topic, then that person is responsible for demonstrating to that student and the rest of the group how they overcame that challenge. Also, someone else in your study group may have the same problem and you can work together to solve the problem!

Key to the success of these challenge sessions are:

· You turn up prepared

· You turn up on time

· You focus on the work and chat later

· You try and help each other

· You finish on time

How could you use these approaches to help you and your friends learn together and learn efficiently?

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References Briggs, S [2013]. ‘How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways To Encourage It’. InformEd. https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/peer-teaching/

McAllum, R [2014]. ‘Reciprocal Teaching: Critical Reflection on Practice’. Kairaranga. 15(1). pp. 27-35.

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