Many people know that teaching others is one of the best ways to learn. If you teach someone else a new process, your brain will cement this information and consider it true. Since teaching others is so effective, should we encourage students to teach other students? Studies show that there are many benefits to peer-to-peer education, so let’s dive into what we can expect to see if this becomes more commonplace.
It’s basic knowledge that one-to-one learning is a huge benefit to all students, but particularly to those who struggle. Pairing students off is a great way to reap these benefits without spreading the teacher too thin. Teachers can pair a weak student with a strong student, which will help strengthen both students. Those that struggle will gain more attention, while those who excel will reinforce their knowledge. Also, the groups who are struggling more than others can gain more attention from the teacher, as the teacher will not need to worry about the entire class.
For some students, asking questions to their teacher might make them feel incompetent, even if they have an understanding teacher. However, students tend to be more comfortable asking their peers questions. There is less of a power dynamic, even between the strongest and weakest students, which means students are more likely to ask each other for help. If you set up your classroom so that your students are paired, there is a good chance those critical questions will be answered in a more timely manner. In some cases, having the correct information can be a make-or-break situation for students’ grades.
Teachers are, above all else, a resource for information. By taking some of the pressure off of them, you allow them to plan for next steps, such as future lesson plans and tests. They will have more time to brainstorm creative lessons, which may be more engaging for students. Although teachers will need to check in with their class, peer teaching is a great way to lessen the burden of work outside of school hours.
Another resource that will be affected is money. Many school districts have a huge student-to-teacher ratio, with the nation’s average being more than 20 children to 1 teacher in 2014. School districts typically have to make a tough decision between cutting costs to hire more staff or providing a subpar education due to overcrowding in classrooms. With peer-to-peer teaching, teachers can take on more students without the quality of education suffering.
Although many schools do not utilize student-to-student education, it can be a huge benefit in many ways. If you are an educator, consider whether you are able to test out this method in your classroom. It will be difficult at first, but over time you are almost guaranteed to see success.