Student Peer Teaching: An Innovative Approach to Instruction in Science and Engineering Education
- Cite this article as:
- Ramaswamy, S., Harris, I. & Tschirner, U. Journal of Science Education and Technology (2001) 10: 165. doi:10.1023/A:1009421231056
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This paper reports the results of a pilot-study in a senior paper science and engineering class, of an innovative instructional method designed to foster student problem-solving and in-depth learning of material, namely, student peer teaching. We review related literature focusing on active learning methods in science and engineering education, describe the method of student peer teaching used in this pilot-study, present the evaluation method and results, and discuss implications for further development of this method of instruction. Results suggest that students were able to effectively teach significant curricular content. In addition, the method of student peer teaching served important purposes in helping students develop in-depth understanding and expertise in the issues related to their teaching session, as well as teaching and presentation skills which will be useful in their professional practice. However, students expressed concern that, while achieving in-depth learning of the content of their teaching session, they tended to focus on the content area of their teaching session at the expense of other content areas and may not have learned as well from other students as from the Professor. We recommend a modified structure for student peer teaching which incorporates cooperative learning methods; increased Professor involvement in class sessions, in the role of the mentor; and modifications in performance evaluation methods to ensure ongoing student monitoring of progress and self-assessment. The method of student peer teaching, in science and engineering education, combined with cooperative learning methods, is viewed as a major extension of cooperative learning methods, used in the service of preparation for professional careers.