Reciprocal Learning

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Method & Rationale

A cooperative teaching activity to promote comprehension of text.


This involves students working in groups to help with the comprehension of a text. There are three roles, the reader, the questioner, the clarifier (it's possible to have four - the note taker). One student reads through a piece of text, after each paragraph the clarifier explains in simpler terms what they have just read, the questioner will raise any ideas or questions about the paragraph. The roles can remain the same for the whole task or they can be alternated.

Students Outcomes

   -   Understand fully a passage of subject specific text.
   -   Identify the main idea in a paragraph of text.
   -   Disseminate complicated text.
   -   Highlight keywords/Key phrases.
   -   Ask appropriate questions.
   -   Improve listening skills.

Key Skills

   -   Listening
   -   Comprehension
   -   Cooperative Learning
   -   Oracy


Phase 1: Reader reads a part of a text
Phase 2: Questioner asks questions about this part of the text
Phase 3: Clarifier answers and tries to explain with his own (easier understanding) words. Could be recorded by the note-taker.

Phase 4: Repeat until the whole text is done


Results of evaluation of students:

Students found this method easy to understand and helpful for understanding a topic. It is very helpful for teachers to act as facilitators and students to be their ownteachers as a group.
It worked well in text heavy subjects to work through difficult texts. It was good for summarising information and extracting the most important points.
   -   Helpful to understand a text.
   -   Didn’t require teacher help, almost all student led
   -   Good for making notes on key events
   -   Helpful for understanding a topic
   -   Helpful for decoding difficult texts e.g. historical documents.
   -   Not everyone in group done equal amount of work
   -   Did not always have time to finish.


Results of evaluation of teachers:

This method works well in most cases. Teachers liked it because it took little preparation only selecting a suitable text. It was suitable for confined spaces and different classroom layouts. Each student having a specific role meant that each student would engage although some teachers reported finding students completing their own role and then taking a more relaxed approach.
Teachers found it great as they were facilitating rather than teaching and students were leading the session. They observed students using reading and listening skills and critical thinking to decipher meanings. By the end of the session students had produced key events and notes that they had created themselves using a piece of text and working as a group. Teachers also liked it because the roles vary – there is usually one to suit each level of ability and personality. One area of concern for some teachers was timing – enough time must be allowed for this activity or students can become frustrated.
   -   Easy to explain
   -   Easy to organise with little preparation
   -   Student led
   -   Reading and listening competencies are increased
   -   Good for critical thinking
   -   Difficult to get all students to engage on an equal level
   -   Reading out loud is not common practice everywhere
   -   Needs to be timed well

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