Can learning by teaching be the answer?


How often do you have students come out to the board and teach their peers? For me, this has always been a favourite activity, provided the group is friendly and supportive enough. I mostly like it because of the effects of having to explain something to others, which helps their own understanding – and of course it gives a nice change of pace. Now, this research aricle connects the benefits of learning by teaching to retrieval practice, when the students have to remember the material and engage with it in order to teach. (There is a digested version which is an easier read here). So, in other words, in order to benefit from teaching their peers, the students need to engage with the material, not just parrot away something you gave them to read at the board. I think it’s important to know – isn’t it?

And now I have a chillling thought: if testing is about retrieval practice and learning by teaching is about retrieval practice, can learning by teaching replace testing altogether?

P.S. By the way, this post about ‘active learning’  links to an article  where the author is very critical of evaluation in education and finds learning by teaching a much easier way to grade students.

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