Riding the Reciprocal Teaching Bus A teacher’s reflections on nurturing collaborative learning in a school culture obsessed by results

Gilbert, Francis. 2018. Riding the Reciprocal Teaching Bus A teacher’s reflections on nurturing collaborative learning in a school culture obsessed by results. Changing English, 25(2), pp. 146-162. ISSN 1469-3585 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines the author’s interactions with the teaching strategy known as Reciprocal Teaching, sometimes also called Reciprocal Reading, which involves students learning to read collaboratively in small groups. Reciprocal Teaching typically involves students teaching each other by following a rubric of activities that are aimed at primarily improving their comprehension skills. In brief, students read a text in a group and collectively try to understand it, using prescribed procedures. This article scrutinises the original research by Palinscar and Brown (1984) which created the strategy and questions some of its claims. While many other investigations into Reciprocal Teaching have aimed to prove or disprove its efficacy, this enquiry studies the discourses which inform the strategy, arguing that there are problems with its presentation in the original article which have affected subsequent representations of Reciprocal Teaching. The article shows how the author, an English teacher in a large secondary school, taught Reciprocal Teaching to teenagers for a year and argues that the presentation of Reciprocal Teaching he read in a well-regarded teaching handbook caused him to deploy Reciprocal Teaching problematically. It was only when he taught Reciprocal Teaching in a more imaginative fashion that he found greater success.

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Francis Gilbert (2018) Riding the Reciprocal Teaching Bus. A Teacher’s Reflections on Nurturing Collaborative Learning in a School Culture Obsessed by Results, Changing English, 25:2, 146-162, DOI: 10.1080/1358684X.2018.1452606


Collaborative learning, Reciprocal Teaching, Reciprocal Reading, Teaching Reading, Palinscar & Brown, secondary English teaching, improving exam results, autonomous literacy strategy.

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Educational Studies


8 February 2018Accepted
31 May 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

19 Jul 2018 14:44

Last Modified:

25 Jan 2021 18:25

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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