Reciprocal Teaching

In my opinion, one of the highest goals of education is to develop self-directed learners. These are individuals who have not only learned from their teachers but can go forward and acquire new knowledge on their own. They have learned how to learn by themselves and are no longer tethered to their teachers.

One strategy among many for developing self-directed learners is the use of reciprocal teaching. Reciprocal teaching allows students to explore content through the vehicle of a controlled discussion. In other words, reciprocal teaching is classroom discussion that has a purpose and a sense of direction to it. The teacher guides the students through a process during the discussion that stimulates reflective thinking and critical thinking skills.

Normally, reciprocal teaching has the following four steps to it.

  1. Predicting
  2. Questioning
  3. Summarizing
  4. Clarifying

Let’s examine each step


The discussion begins by having the students make guesses about the text they are going to study. They can examine pictures in the text, the title, subheadings, and other clues to develop an idea of what they may learn. Students’ prior knowledge can also be a guide for making decent predictions.

After prediction comes the content experience in which the students read the text our learn it through some other approach of the teacher.


Different students take turns asking the class questions about different aspects of the text or learning experience. Students respond to the questions and ask new ones. Developing questions is not as easy as it sounds, especially for children. It takes thought to develop decent questions as well as deep thinking to develop answers. At this point, the students are leading the learning experience while the teacher is facilitating.


One person is selected to provide a summary of what has been learned during the discussion. The teacher then calls on other students to comment on or elaborate on the summary. Again, the burden of learning is on the students and the teacher is only managing the classroom without much input.


If anything was unclear now is the time it is discussed. In many ways, this is like a miscellaneous section where loose ends are dealt with. Section of the reading or teaching are experienced again until the students have a better understanding of the content.

Self-directed learning is one of the major goals of education and reciprocal teaching is one way to address this goal. I would like to know if anyone has other ways of developing learners who can learn on their own

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