Learning Through Peer Teaching

The most thorough learning experience is teaching.  By teaching others students become aware of their own understanding of a concept. (Teaching the Language of Learning: Meta Teaching)
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According to Richard Rusczyk,

“Teaching calls for complete understanding of the concept. You can’t just ‘kind of get it’ or know it just well enough to get by on a test; teaching calls for complete understanding of the concept.”

Peer Teaching Removes The Possibility of Self-deceit

Richard Rusczyk, calls fooling ourselves into believing we have a complete grasp of an idea before we really understand it; “not hitting the boundary of our understanding.”

In the context of project based inquiry, such as creating a jigsaw library, teachers ask students to create instructionals for a Hybrid Reference.    By scripting, designing, conducting and polishing videos about the selected topic students are forced to grapple with challenging questions like

  • How do you know that what you are saying is true?   (Worksheet templates to show students how to cite supporting evidence, reference sources will be uploaded here today)
  • When would you use that?   (Why are we learning this and how will we apply it)
  • How could you come up with that in the first place?   (What was the creative process)

Teaching Thinking Strategies to Students talks about knowledge being most empowering when students can transfer what they have learned to new and novel situations.   This creative transference is what the creative process is all about.  It is called synergy.

Teach for Understanding

Richard Rusczyk says it is “Figuring the answers out for yourself so you can explain them to others, that makes teaching such a powerful tool for cementing your understanding of a subject.”  I would like to add that we have set up these projects so that it is through collaboration that students are encouraged to

  1. investigate the way they learn
  2. work with others so that they see that there is more than one way to approach and to accomplish any outcome.

Please review the results of this poll and add your strategy if you have not already done so.

Why Jacobs Process  Builds Community

Teaching forces students to communicate their thoughts, ideas and strategies clearly and precisely.  Teaching on a team means that these ways of working are put to the test, and they are augmented.

As our society becomes ever more interlocked and interdependent, cooperation becomes more and more important. This cooperation requires communication; however, being heard is not enough. You must also be understood. Your ideas will never be more effective than your ability to make others comprehend them. Teaching helps you develop the extremely important skill of describing your ideas well enough for others to use them.

This praxis is built round the central notion that asking the students to teach is not just good for those they help; it’s good for them, too.

Teaching removes this possibility of self-deceit.

This what we mean when we talk about VALANCE.  The process itself removes the lazy desire to take short cuts and to kid oneself that a subject is already learned when it is actually only half learned.  The process  will remove self deception. Students will ask the kinds of questions listed above, along with all sorts of ‘What ifs.’   They won’t be able to handle without mastery of the subject matter.

Students are forced to grapple with these challenging questions, and figuring the answers out so that they can explain them to others.  This makes peer teaching such a powerful tool for cementing understanding of the subject at hand.


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