Reciprocal teaching is a strategy to teach reading where the teacher and the students share responsibility for interpreting the material. The students and the teacher go through four steps of summarising, question generating, clarifying and predicting. Reciprocal teaching is a research-based strategy with a growing body of studies cementing its foundation.
The Research Advantage
Research from Palincsar and Brown over the last five years has established a strong basis for reciprocal teaching. In several studies, students involved in a reciprocal reading activity scored higher on reading comprehension tests than students in a control group not using this teaching strategy. A strong research base for an instructional strategy helps validate its effectiveness and use in the classroom.
The Cognitive Advantage
In the studies conducted by the researchers, students using reciprocal teaching improved their summaries with practice and worked more independently than the students not using this teaching strategy. Additionally, the reciprocal teaching classes saw fewer disruptive student behaviours, possibly because the students were more cognitively engaged in the material.
The Advantage of Communication and Collaboration
Reciprocal teaching has also been shown to help students develop interpersonal communication skills since they have to interact with other students and the teacher. Since students team and help each other, this teaching strategy involves students helping and teaching other students. This is thought to boost student self-efficacy and self-esteem.
The Time and Practice Disadvantage
Reciprocal teaching requires time and practice to implement successfully. Trying to implement this strategy without proper preparation and planning will not likely have the proposed benefits for the students. Additionally, reciprocal teaching requires more classroom time than traditional teaching methods.
Incorrect Feedback Disadvantage
Since the students are collaborating with each other and sharing the teaching of the material with the teacher, it is possible that students will provide incorrect feedback to other students. With larger groups of students, it will be difficult for the teacher to monitor all of the communications between the students, and misinformation may be passed through the class.
- Palincsar (1986). Reciprocal teaching. In Teaching reading as thinking.
- Harris & Brown. Reading, thinking and concept development: Strategies for the classroom. (1985)
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