Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title 'Teaching Each Other': An Example of Active Learning in a Lecture, Tutorial or Workshop
Originator Mick Healey
Department GEMRU, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ
Tel. +44 (0)1242 532971
Fax +44 (0)1242 543283

Incorporating active learning into classes is promoted as an effective way for students to learn. There are many devices described in the literature by which interaction between students can be encouraged including, for example, brainstorming, buzz groups, and pyramiding. One which is less frequently mentioned, but seems to be effective, is a technique I have called 'teaching each other'. The principle is based on the adage that one of the best ways to learn is to teach someone else. This idea can be applied when students give mini-lectures or seminar papers, although many students seem more concerned with trying to impress the tutor about their level of knowledge than to teach the rest of the class. In the application described here the context is less formal and involves students working in pairs in which the job of each student is to summarise for the other the main points in a short article or extract that they have read. Each student is given a different section of an article or handout or an extract from two different articles.

I have used this technique in a variety of contexts, including a first year lecture to 150 students examining the break-up of socialism in Eastern Europe (using a Geofile article), a workshop for students on improving their essay writing skills (using the article by Unwin, 1990); and a staff development session on incorporating active learning in lectures (using the workshop handout). I even used it my inaugural lecture, rather to the surprise of some of the audience (Healey, 1996). These particular exercises lasted between 10 and 20 minutes.

The main advantages of the technique are that:

For the exercise to work effectively: Overall the technique provides a useful alternative to covering the same material in a passive lecture format.

Relevant References:


Active learning

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Page created 29 April 1997
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