Learn by Teaching – O'Donnell Learn

Learn by Teaching

Published by Cathryn Mattimore
on Oct 30, 2019

O’Donnell Learn is committed to discovering teaching methodologies that improve student success. We’ve found that one way to do this is by asking students to teach the very same material they’re attempting to master. By having students teach the material they’re learning, their comprehension levels dramatically improve. This idea is explained in greater length in Want Students to Remember What They Learn? Have Them Teach It by Elisabeth Stock.

In this article, the author explains and presents various findings from psychological studies that researched the efficacy of peer instruction. One finding was that, “when students actually teach the content of a lesson, they develop a deeper and longer-lasting understanding of the material than students who do not teach it.” This finding is profound because it renders a practical way that educators can utilize as a concrete means to improve student success. Similarly, the study also found that “we can deduce that learning by teaching can potentially improve C students to a B+ or even an A-.” This drastic improvement in student performance simply cannot be overlooked and suggests that peer instruction should be incorporated more frequently.

Clearly, there is value in peer instruction but how does this translate into a higher education online format? This is a question ODL is passionate about answering. Peer instruction works best in a synchronous modality, where students are paired, or put into small groups to solve a problem. So, you start with a quiz, or even just a single quiz question with no obvious right or wrong answer. Then you break your students into breakout groups–which is easily done in Zoom and other videoconferencing tools–and ask them to explain the reasons for their selected answer. Often this activity is capped by having the students retake the quiz and circling back to the instructor for clarification or additional feedback.

Another practice is to have students record themselves teaching the material and post that to an online forum. As we’ve seen, peer instruction proves highly valuable, and a video recording is a way to bring this educational methodology to a virtual/online space. We have found this practice produces similar results than if this exercise was done in person. In this exercise, students can think through the material in greater depth because they have the ability to hit pause and teach in multiple takes.

Through our experiences and research, ODL has become a strong advocate for the benefits of peer instruction. Empirical studies have shown that it one of the best ways to learn is to teach and that peer instruction often results in mastery. Moving forward, ODL intends to continue to innovate creative ways to incorporate peer instruction in our course designs.


The WOW Factor: Creating Faculty Development That Sparks Interest and Envy

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 19, 2021

Imagine our surprise last summer when we reached out to 475 faculty and learned the online courses for nearly half were simply mirrors of their face-to-face instruction. In fact, only 22% were designing their courses differently for online. With all of the faculty development around online learning being offered, why weren’t more faculty designing courses specifically for this type of instruction? As it turns out, faculty weren’t engaging with development options at a level you might expect given COVID-19 and the rapid shift to online learning. Something we’d also learned in surveys and interviews with170 provosts and academic leaders a year earlier. The solution? The WOW Factor.

Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy - Purposeful Learning DesignTM - is anchored around people.  It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

2020 Reflective: Breathe Deep and Stay Agile

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Dec 22, 2020

While end-of-year survey results are still to come for how enrolled students are evaluating their 2020 college experience, I queried two of our staff, both students, about their overall experience and considered how these compared to what I was seeing with O’Donnell Learn clients. Kellie, our graphic design intern, just completed her Associates Degree in Graphic design. Prior to 2020, all of her courses met on campus. Cathryn, a Learning Design Associate is currently enrolled in an online Master of Education program in eLearning and Instructional Design. As this program was conceived as online delivery, it serves as a benchmark to compare against courses that were forced by COVID to switch delivery modes.