Another dot in the blogosphere?

Teach in order to learn

Posted on: November 4, 2014

Video source

This video by Hank Green highlights a finding in research that a more effective way to learn is to teach.

Researchers tested the effect of students being told to teach content vs being told that they would sit for a test. However, all the students (including the ones told to teach) were tested. What were the results?

Participants expecting to teach produced more complete and better orga- nized free recall of the passage (Experiment 1) and, in general, correctly answered more questions about the passage than did participants expecting a test (Experiment 1), particularly questions covering main points (Experiment 2), consistent with their having engaged in more effective learning strategies.

However, the study seemed to stop short of recommending that students actually teach to learn better.

I know this teach-to-learn strategy works because this is how I conduct my courses and workshops. But do not take my word for it.

The serendipitous publishing of a MindShift article on students teaching other students sheds some light on the why this works.


  • can find ways to make the content more relevant and exciting
  • are more creative with relating concepts or ideas
  • are closer to the “a-ha” moments and reach their peers in a more visceral way

I have also reflected on at least two other occasions on why teaching to learn is effective.

In writing about my second dimension of flipped learning, I mentioned how teaching requires learners to practice content delivery and to be active sense-makers.

Learning Pyramid by dkuropatwa, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  dkuropatwa 

Note: Take the percentages with more than a pinch of salt. The numbers cannot be substantiated.

When I shared the learning pyramid and justified my three dimensions of flipped learning, I mentioned how teaching was a process of cyclic processing, reprocessing, and reflection that honed a teacher’s internalization and treatment of content.

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