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Posts Tagged ‘peer

This Instagram post succinctly stated why peer teaching is an excellent strategy to help students learn. According to a study: 

…students who prepared to teach outperformed their counterparts in both duration and depth of learning, scoring 9 percent higher on factual recall a week after the lessons concluded, and 24 percent higher on their ability to make inferences. The research suggests that asking students to prepare to teach something—or encouraging them to think “could I teach this to someone else?”—can significantly alter their learning trajectories.

But the post did not include a link to the study. It was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology. The abstract at the journal site also claims that learning was effective as measured by a test shortly after peer teaching and “even at a delay”.

I wanted to know how long that delay was but was unable to because the manuscript will only be publicly available on 15 February 2022. That said, the study adds to the pool of knowledge about peer teaching.

One of my favourite sayings about peer teaching is this: 

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.

This was based on a much older paper title in 1988. Students might learn something the first time round when they read, watch, listen, etc. But they learn a second time when they prepare to teach it to their peers — they identify gaps, use their own examples, relate with peer language.

It was World Teacher’s Day on 5 October, so EthicsInBricks shared this:

The late Feynman’s quote was a masterful way of saying that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. This wisdom applies not just to teachers but to students as well.

Some teachers might know this strategy as peer teaching. It is a step above group discussion because it is a structured method of getting students to teach each other. But teachers may not understand why this strategy works.

Before a student can teach something they have to get the basics right. In trying to teach something, they might discover what they do not know or understand. This is called identifying gaps.

As they teach one another, learners will likely use language and examples that are more relatable. These might not be professionally or pedagogically sound, but they get the message across.

Then there is the transfer of the locus of control. When teaching a peer, each student has the pressure or responsibility to share information accurately.

But a facilitator of learning should not leave the process there. Peer teaching can also include the evaluation of learning. Here a facilitator finds out if students can apply what they think they know, so s/he might issue a performative challenge, e.g., provide problem scenarios that are solved by role play. 

The same facilitator should also consolidate learning. This is an effort to see it learners are in the same place and pace, i.e., have they attempted and attained a particular outcome or standard. The facilitator might conduct round-robin discussions or a whole class discussion to determine this.

One of the best ways to learn is to peer teach it. But only if peer teaching is conducted fully and professionally. 

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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.

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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