Previous research has shown that “learning-by-teaching” (LbT) can be very effective and improve performance on subsequent assessments compared to other instructional methods.
A variety of reasons have been proposed to explain this superiority:
To test these different theories, a team of researchers recently conducted a study on 131 Dutch primary school students (average age: 11 years old) assigned to 3 different conditions:
Finally, all students were given a conceptual knowledge test with 10 open-ended questions, such as “Why is photosynthesis important for plants?” and asked to self-report the mental effort and enjoyment associated with the weekend homework, as well as the amount of time spent on it.
Results indicated that students in all three groups spent the same amount of time on the different homework assignments. As anticipated, mental effort was greater in the summarizing and teaching conditions (+67%). However, only teaching led to better performance on the test (+33%). It was also the preferred activity (+20%).
These findings do not only confirm the effectiveness of learning-by-teaching: they also indicate that the best explanation for its superiority over other methods may very well be the “social presence hypothesis”.
Interestingly, technology-integrating homework assignments could be a better way of leveraging the advantages of LbT than the “jigsaw” activities that are so common in modern classrooms because of the added-value of teaching a virtual, mentally-constructed peer.
Reference: Hoogerheide, Visee, Lachner and Gog, “Generating an Instructional Video as Homework Activity is Both Effective and Enjoyable”, Learning and Instruction, 64, 2019.