Reciprocal teaching is a strategy used to elicit comprehension of difficult/complex texts amongst students. It is generally understood amongst educators that with reasonable ability to decode, reading comprehension is the product of three main factors: considerate texts, compatibility of the reader's knowledge and text content, and the active strategies the reader employs to enhance understanding and retention, and to circumvent comprehension failures (Sullivan Palinscar & Brown, 1984)
To increase readers’ ability to comprehend texts that are challenging, reciprocal teaching follows the steps below:
1. Students are placed into groups of four.
2. Each student either chooses or gets assigned their role in the group. The roles are summarizer, questioner, clarifier, and predictor.
3. Students are given a text to read by the teacher. The teacher predetermines where each stopping place within the text will be and notifies students of said points. The stopping points are usually after a couple of paragraphs or a short section.
4. Throughout the reading, each student is encouraged to annotate, take notes, etc., but is also expected to participate according to their specific role:
- Summarizer – highlights any important pieces or key ideas up to the point of stopping
- Questioner - poses questions about unclear parts, puzzling information, or connections to other concepts
- Clarifier - attempts to address questions asked by the questioner or clear up any misconceptions that are evident within the group
- Predictor - makes predictions about what is to come next
8. Once these steps are completed, the roles switch; the summarizer becomes the questioner, questioner the clarifier, clarifier the predictor, and predictor now the summarizer.
9. Students move to the next section of the text and obtain their new roles as they read.
10. The steps repeat until the text is read in entirety.