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Posts Tagged ‘peer

If you had to deliver a COVID-19 message to the masses so that they move in the right direction, how might you do it?

If you were a minister in government, you would take a formal tone and craft something that newspapers would like to publish. For example, keeping kids at home instead of school might be met with: [source]

This is part of our psychological unity – students, teachers, parents all being part of it – and we all rise to the call as one united people in tackling this crisis

If you were a humour-based group with a presence on Twitter, you might leverage on an informal tone and embed a video featuring an angry comic. For example: [source]

The strategies could not contrast more, but they are about the same principle: If we stand together by being physically apart, we have a good chance of beating the coronavirus.

But the second method is more direct and relatable. The fact that is it laced with humour and marinated in Singlish is a bonus.

For me, the second method is like peer teaching. After a high-sounding introduction by a teacher, a concept should be retaught by students in pairs or small groups. This allows them to test their understanding, identify gaps, and learn it twice.

To teach is the learn twice. Whitman, N.A. & Fife, J.D. (1988). Peer Teaching: To Teach Is To Learn Twice. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED305016.pdf

As students try to teach one another, they realise how much they know and how much they do not. They will use language and examples that are familiar to them. They are more likely to internalise something new.

Peer teaching does not ensure learning though. Students might not identify gaps or they might perpetuate misconceptions. The point of peer teaching is to get students to process information immediately, directly, and in a relatable way so that the processes of learning are visible.

The end of every semester gives me time to reflect. Even though I am no longer a full time faculty member, I do this because I am still an educator of future educators.

Most times I take notes — literally in macOS Notes — of what to do differently the next semester. This semester a conversation with one future faculty member reminded me to stay the course.

A graduate student I had just evaluated on student-centred pedagogy stayed back and asked me why I insisted that higher order thinking be challenged to and attempted by groups of learners.

The simple answer was the same as what that student recalled from workshop sessions — getting students to work with one another was more engaging. I did not give that answer because I know that empowerment is more effective than engagement.

I provided a broader answer. I replied that getting students to think deeply was important individually, particularly in a university context. However, we also have a civic responsibility to prepare students for the work place.

These are the same work places that have to deal with ill-structured problems. Often workers operate in teams or groups to find or devise solutions.

Universities have to play catch-up with the work place. Faculty who claim to prepare students for the work place need to operate accordingly. That is why higher order thinking, like peer teaching and cooperative learning, are critical.

To teach is the learn twice.

I helped that learner connect dots that he did not realise went that broad and that deep. I realise that I do not do this often enough. This reflection is a reminder for me to not just take these teachable moments, but also to make them.


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