Time required: Short
Why: When students explain difficult concepts to someone unfamiliar with the material, they are forced to understand the concept and their learning is reinforced. Setting a word limit will require students to home in on what is important. The activity can also serve as an informal assessment.
- Select a concept important to your course content
- Direct students to explain the concept to someone unfamiliar with the topic. Little brothers, mothers, and classmates in other majors are good options.
- Set a word limit in the range of 50-100 words.
- Explain to your parent why water stays in a pail when swung in a vertical circle around your head (Bean, 2011 p. 152).
- Your brother writes you a frustrated email about his two year old son’s seemingly endless tantrums and strong-willed nature. Write back explaining why this behavior is to be expected according to Erikson’s psychosocial theory. Give him tips on how to help his son during this stage.
- Explain the nervous system to a 10 year old.
- Explain to your grandparent how playing peek-a-boo with an infant is actually helping build their brain.
This activity has several deployment options:
- It can be an assignment required for submission which will allow you to assess understanding and possible mistaken ideas. You can offer feedback or not.
- Discussion boards with different concepts and smaller groups is another possibility. Students can respond to each other’s posts. You can monitor to correct any misinformation.
- You can choose concepts and groups on a rotating basis.
- You can choose to allow drawings, diagrams, or formulas.
Adapted from Engaging Ideas by John C. Bean