Palincsar (1986) Describes the Concept of Reciprocal Teaching

Palincsar (1986) Describes the Concept of Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal Teaching

Palincsar (1986) describes the concept of reciprocal teaching:


Reciprocal teaching refers to an instructional activity that takes place in the form of a dialogue between teachers and students regarding segments of text. The dialogue is structured by the use of four strategies: summarizing, question generating, clarifying, and predicting. The teacher and students take turns assuming the role of teacher in leading this dialogue.

Purpose: The purpose of reciprocal teaching is to facilitate a group effort between teacher and students as well as among students in the task of bringing meaning to the text. Each strategy was selected for the following purpose:

Summarizing provides the opportunity to identify and integrate the most important information in the text. Text can be summarized across sentences, across paragraphs, and across the passage as a whole. When the students first begin the reciprocal teaching procedure, their efforts are generally focused at the sentence and paragraph levels. As they become more proficient, they are able to integrate at the paragraph and passage levels.

Question generating reinforces the summarizing strategy and carries the learner one more step along in the comprehension activity. When students generate questions, they first identify the kind of information that is significant enough to provide the substance for a question. They then pose this information in question form and self-test to ascertain that they can indeed answer their own question. Question generating is a flexible strategy to the extent that students can be taught and encouraged to generate questions at many levels. For example, some school situations require that students master supporting detail information; others require that the students be able to infer or apply new information from text.

Clarifying is an activity that is particularly important when working with students who have a history of comprehension difficulty. These students may believe that the purpose of reading is saying the words correctly; they may not be particularly uncomfortable that the words, and in fact the passage, are not making sense. When the students are asked to clarify, their attention is called to the fact that there may be many reasons why text is difficult to understand (e.g., new vocabulary, unclear reference words, and unfamiliar and perhaps difficult concepts). They are taught to be alert to the effects of such impediments to comprehension and to take the necessary measures to restore meaning (e.g., reread, ask for help).

Predicting occurs when students hypothesize what the author will discuss next in the text. In order to do this successfully, students must activate the relevant background knowledge that they already possess regarding the topic. The students have a purpose for reading: to confirm or disprove their hypotheses. Furthermore, the opportunity has been created for the students to link the new knowledge they will encounter in the text with the knowledge they already possess. The predicting strategy also facilitates use of text structure as students learn that headings, subheadings, and questions imbedded in the text are useful means of anticipating what might occur next.

In summary, each of these strategies was selected as a means of aiding students to construct meaning from text as well as a means of monitoring their reading to ensure that they are in fact understanding what they read.

Benefits of Reciprocal Teaching in Mathematics

Additionally, a modified version of reciprocal teaching can benefit students who struggle to comprehend mathematical word problems. The four major components of this modified approach are: clarifying, questioning, summarizing and planning (van Garderen, 2004). In a reciprocal teaching math lesson, one student is assigned to be the group leader. That student leads the other students through each of the four steps. The group first clarifies any words or phrases that are not understood. Then the leader uses questions to guide the group into identifying the key parts of the problem. Next, the leader summarizes the purpose of the word problem and finally guides the group in creating a plan to solve the problem. Each person in the group takes a turn being the leader.

What Is Reciprocal Teaching?

The creation of Palinscar and Brown, Reciprocal Teaching is in some ways a compilation of four comprehension strategies:





Please understand that some think the choice of "reciprocal" in the name of this strategy is slightly misleading. It conjures up the image of a student in front of the class, or of students taking turns telling each other important ideas in the text. Instead, the strategy is best at seeking to promote comprehension by tackling the ideas in a text on several fronts.

How Does It Work?

The order in which the four stages occur is not crucial; you'll want to try out different versions of the strategy to see if a particular protocol suits your teaching style, and your students' learning styles, better. You will also want to choose text selections carefully to be certain that they lend themselves to all four stages of reciprocal teaching.

How Might I Implement Reciprocal Teaching in my Classroom?

Before you can expect reciprocal teaching to be used successfully by your students, they need to have been taught and had time to practice the four strategies that are used in reciprocal teaching. Doesn't it make sense that they should already have learned and become comfortable with summarizing before attempting to use it in a reciprocal teaching situation? Or questioning? Or predicting? Or clarifying?

One approach to teaching reciprocal teaching might be to have students work from a four-column chart, with each column headed by the different comprehension activity involved.

You might also consider implementing reciprocal teaching the way Donna Dyer of the North West Regional Education Service Agency in North Carolina recommends. Here's one way she suggests you use reciprocal teaching:

1.Put students in groups of four.

2.Distribute one notecard to each member of the group identifying each person's unique role.





3.Have students read a few paragraphs of the assigned text selection. Encourage them to use note-taking strategies such as selective underlining or sticky-notes to help them better prepare for their role in the discussion.

4.At the given stopping point, the Summarizer will highlight the key ideas up to this point in the reading.

5.The Questioner will then pose questions about the selection:

*unclear parts

*puzzling information

*connections to other concepts already learned

*motivations of the agents or actors or characters


6.The Clarifier will address confusing parts and attempt to answer the questions that were just posed.

7.The Predictor can offer guesses about what the author will tell the group next or, if it's a literary selection, the predictor might suggest what the next events in the story will be.

8.The roles in the group then switch one person to the right, and the next selection is read. Students repeat the process using their new roles. This continues until the entire selection is read.