Reciprocal teaching seems to have started as method of teaching how to read difficult texts (with respect to the level of the reader).

Has reciprocal teaching been applied to teaching mathematics? Is there are any literature, scientific or otherwise, on this?

One can treat mathematics as difficult texts, of course, but I would guess that there could be differences between mathematics and other difficult texts.

  • $\begingroup$ More information on reciprocal teaching here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocal_teaching $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ Here is one pointer found through a quick search on google scholar... $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ from the wiki: "Reciprocal teaching is best represented as a dialogue between teachers and students in which participants take turns assuming the role of teacher." I'm pretty sure that when some of my students get their turn their first move is, class-dismissed and homework is over. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2015 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ @TommiBrander This is not a term I had even heard before; so I only googled quickly and posted the above comment. If you read through the linked article carefully, then you will be in a better position than I am to answer this question! (Note: It is acceptable across the StackExchange network -- including here, on MESE -- to answer one's own question.) $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2015 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @BenjaminDickman Sure, I'll write an answer at some point. I'll be giving a presentation on the subject and the article you found is more usable than the few I found. I just wanted to give you an opportunity to write an answer and get the corresponding reputation. $\endgroup$
    – Tommi
    Sep 10, 2015 at 9:28

1 Answer 1


I am by no means an expert, so the references listed below are likely to be extremely incomplete. Hopefully they can help in hunting down further references. (These are based on a short essay written with Eero Hakavuori.)

Reciprocal teaching/learning/education was introduced in Palincsar's thesis [1] and in an article of Brown and Palincsar [2]. Their original motivation was helping poor readers to perform better by using reading strategies (I think tactics is more accurate word here) that more skilled readers use.

The method of teaching the tactics: First teacher demonstrates them, and then gradually, step by step, gives more independence to the students.

It seems that the reciprocal teaching process and the tactics taught through it are called reciprocal teaching; at least in the articles I read the concepts were not explicitly separated and named.

There exists a general review of reciprocal teaching [3].

There is some research on word problems in specific [4,5].

We did not find anything related to understanding or composing proofs, or more general mathematical problem-solving.

[1] Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar. Improving the reading comprehension of junior high students through the reciprocal teaching of comprehension-monitoring strategies. PhD thesis, University of Illinois, 1982.

[2] Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar ja Ann L. Brown. Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition and instruction, 1(2):117–175, 1984.

[3] Barak Rosenshine ja Carla Meister. Reciprocal teaching: A review of the research. Review of educational research, 64(4):479–530, 1994.

[4] Delinda van Garderen. Focus on inclusion: reciprocal teaching as a comprehension strategy for understanding mathematical word problems. Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming learning difficulties, 20(2):225–229, 2004.

[5] Allan Collins, John Seely Brown ja Susan E. Newman. Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In a book edited by Lauren B. Resnick: Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser, pages 453–494. Lawrence Erlbaum associates, publishers, Hillsdale, New Jersey, USA, 1989.


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