Reciprocal Teaching & Learning

Melissa Aberle-Grasse
Melissa Aberle-Grasse
Instructor - Georgia Tech Language Institute

How would you define this Big Idea?

Reciprocal teaching broadly refers to classroom methods in which the instructor models a structured dialogue exploring a text or a concept, and then guides students to lead similar dialogues. Originating in a refined strategy for reading comprehension in (Palincsar and Brown, 1984), the method is successfully applied in a university setting to encourage student dialogue, meta-cognition, and leadership (Foster and Rotoloni, 2005).

How is this Big Idea included in your work?

In my Service for Sustainable Futures course (an academic English language course), the method is powerfully apt for developing nuanced understanding of concepts such as sustainability or green economy. And it always makes class (or online dialogue) more fun: interactive and unpredictable yet safe! For example, on the first day of class, I join students in brainstorming our current understanding of sustainability; then after observing a short video or text, I summarize what we’ve read, ask questions of the students to clarify it, and finally, we predict what we might learn next: why is this concept often misunderstood? What is greenwashing? Then this semester, students become leaders of reciprocal teaching/learning skills online through Piazza. For an assigned reading, one student practices predicting/summarizing/generating and answering questions online, and other students are assigned to reply.

Learn more:

Foster, E., Rotoloni, R.. (2005). Reciprocal Teaching: General overview of theories. M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from Summarizes reciprocal teaching in various contexts.

Doolittle, P.E., Hicks, D., and Triplett, C.F. (2006). Reciprocal Teaching for Reading Comprehension in Higher Education: A Strategy for Fostering the Deeper Understanding of Texts. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 17(2), 106-118. Demonstrates use of reciprocal teaching as cognitive strategy.

Palincsar, A.S.; Brown, A.L. (1984). Reciprocal Teaching of Comprehension-fostering and Comprehension-monitoring Activities. Cognition and Instruction 1, 117-175. Origins of the method.