The Advantages and Disadvantages Of Reciprocal Teaching

Several methodologies and concepts have been developed over the years in a bid to improve the learning process for students.

One of the most effective strategies is the reciprocal teaching style which aims to improve students’ comprehension abilities.

A reciprocal teaching method is a form of the learning process that involves a dialogue between students and teachers.

If you wish to know more about reciprocal teaching strategies, and their advantages and disadvantages, it will do you good to read this article to the end.

What Is Reciprocal Teaching?

Reciprocal teaching is an instructional technique whereby students dialogue with teachers on the portions of a text in order to aid students’ comprehension levels.

The aim is to make students give meaning to the texts in a passage after reading it so as to improve their ability to comprehend over time.

Students may also be paired in groups and each of them takes on the role of a teacher in turns explaining the text of a passage and answering questions from other students and the class teacher.

This means that through reciprocal teaching, teachers can foster group collaboration and discussion while they moderate the discourse of the group.

Furthermore, reciprocal teaching uses four reading strategies which include predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing.

The first stage of reciprocal teaching predicts the future outcome of a text before reading it. Then they proceed to check to know if they are right by asking questions. The teacher can also ask questions that point students find their errors and correct them on their own.

Third, the teacher asks questions regarding the test again to clarify their understanding and retention levels before finally engaging students in a summary of the passage.

The History Of Reciprocal Teaching

After discovering that a large percentage of children of comprehensive abilities Palinesor and Ann L. Brown postulated the reciprocal teaching concept.

They argue that the school’s curriculum was not designed to help students develop comprehensive skills. Hence, the process of reciprocal teaching helps students in low-level grades who are able to read but lack the ability to give meaning to what they read.

Strategies Involved In Reciprocal Teaching

As stated earlier, there are basically four strategies involved in reciprocal teaching. These strategies help teachers to enhance students’ comprehension as well as to ascertain that they are really reaching the goal. They are:

1. Predicting

This is a metacognitive process that helps students to anticipate the next line of action in a text. For a start, teachers may ask students to predict what the text is about by looking at images in the passage, or even by suggesting the possible event in the passage from the topic.

Through this, students can gain real insights into what they are reading. Moreso, it is a way to engage students in their minds as they become curious to know if their predictions are actually right.

2. Questioning

The question stage involves readers questioning themselves in order to evaluate their understanding of the text. In other words, students monitor and assess their own thought processes while reading.

The process also involves students taking on the role of a teacher and formulating a list of questions that they ask the reader as a way of self-testing their comprehension ability.

Through the answers provided by the reader, teachers are able to deduce if the reader understands the text. The teacher can then ask the reader questions that will help them figure out where they are missing it.

Finally, by answering questions while reading, the reader will be able to understand the text better.

3. Clarifying

This is the process of remediating unclear parts of the test for students. It is the aspect of reciprocal teaching that ensures that students gain complete clarity of the text.

Some aspects of clarifying also involve dealing with spelling, vocabulary, and unclear concepts. To do this, teachers may ask students to re-read the part that seems unclear or consult their dictionary for words that they do not understand.

4. Summarizing

Here the reader has to give a brief and concise statement of the text. By summarizing text readers find the main and supporting ideas, leave our unimportant ones, and put them down to prove a clear understanding of the entire passage.

Furthermore, readers summarize using their own words thereby reinforcing their retention of the text. The teacher may then conclude the process by doing a better summary of the passage and reiterating the events of the text to solidify students’ comprehension.

Advantages Of Reciprocal Teaching

The benefits that accrue to the reciprocal teaching style are enormous. Here is a list of some of its advantages:

1. Helping students understand the text better

The obvious and most noticeable benefit of reciprocal teaching is that students are able to read and comprehend better.

Many students tend to have reading ability but lack the ability to comprehend what they have read. As such, through the strategies involved in reciprocal teaching, teachers are able to harness students’ ability to read the text and make meaning of it.

2. Students gain metacognition skills

Another interesting benefit of reciprocal teaching is that it inculcates in children the ability to question their thought processes and identify whether they are right or wrong while reading.

Through this, they are able to read a text and answer questions that may arise from the passage without any help.

3. It fosters students’ active involvement in the learning process

Reciprocal teaching is immersive. It is an excellent way to bring students into the learning process actively.

Moreso, students participate in group discussions, take on the teacher’s role, in turn, ask questions, and provide answers to these questions.

All of these forms of engagement make learning fun for students and increase their motivation and interest to learn.

4. Promotes collaborative learning

Basically, reciprocal teaching is group-based. The teacher divides students into teams where they dialogue, read the text in turns, and provide meaning to them.

The students take on the role of a teacher or reader and others ask the reader series of questions as he reads the text. The student’s answer helps to ascertain the reader’s understanding of the text.

Furthermore, students put their heads together and contribute individually to find out the appropriate meaning of a text.

5. Students develop vocabulary knowledge

In the clarifying stage of reciprocal teaching, teachers often allow students to consult their dictionaries when they come across unfamiliar words in the text in order to gain more understanding and clarity.

By so doing, students constantly learn new words and meanings that they can apply while talking or writing. More so, they can apply their knowledge of vocabulary into comprehending text better.

6. Reciprocal learning caters to students with learning disabilities

High-ability students may be able to read and comprehend text easily without having to follow the reciprocal teaching path. However, the process can help students who are slow learners or those with learning disabilities such as ADHD or ADD to comprehend text.

From the prediction stage where students have to predict the next line of events in a passage before reading it, to constantly questioning the reader to access their comprehension of the text, to clarifying unclear parts of the text, to summary, the reciprocal process is really robust and practical.

Hence, it is an effective strategy that allows teachers to take their time to help readers comprehend better.

Moreso, children with learning disabilities require special care, time, and patience and the reciprocal teaching model takes all of these qualities.

Disadvantages Of Reciprocal Teaching

Although reciprocal teaching presents a lot of benefits, it also poses a few challenges due to its processes:

1. It is time-consuming

The reciprocal teaching model is one that requires more time than traditional classroom time because of the different processes involved.

Teachers need to group students and listen to each individual in the group read while assessing their ability to answer questions asked by their group members.

Additionally, the teacher also needs to ask questions, help the student out when they are stuck, moderate each group, and control noise, while still ensuring that each student becomes better as they progress.

As a result, teachers may not be able to cater to each group or individual students the way they should, hence, some may be lagging behind and not achieving the goal of the teaching.

2. Misleading feedback

Students are given more freedom to interact and collaborate with each other in reciprocal teaching.

Moreso, students take on the role of teachers and provide answers to questions asked by their peers.

In the process, the group may agree to a wrong answer provided by the reader, particularly if the reader seems like the smartest one among them.


Is reciprocal teaching effective?

Yes. Reciprocal teaching is effective as it helps students to achieve an adept level of comprehension while reading.

Why use reciprocal teaching?

It helps students to question their thought processes while reading and it is a way to actively involve students in the learning process.

Is reciprocal teaching limited to a grade level?

Reciprocal teaching was originally designed to help grade seven students. However, researchers have concluded that it should be an essential part of the primary grade level.


The benefits of reciprocal teaching are evident as it has helped to improve the ability of students to comprehend text as teachers take them through the process over and over again.

Moreso, students with learning disabilities can become competent with reading and comprehending because of the length of the process they go through in reciprocal teaching.

Hence, it is best that you adopt this method in your class, particularly if you are a primary-grade teacher.

Finally, you may check the article on differentiated learning which will give you knowledge on how to deal with each student individually as a teacher.

You may also check the article on the types of learners to know more about the different styles that students learn best and strategies you can adopt to help them learn better.

Thank you for reading.

I hope this article helped.