Its conventional wisdom that the best way to learn something is to teach it, but a new study suggests that the mere expectation of teaching may be enough to boost learning significantly.
The study (full text here), which was recently published in the journal Memory & Cognition, is based on a set of experiments in which university students were asked to read and recall key ideas and details from two relatively length text passages. Participants in one group of students were told that they would be tested on the passages while participants in a second group were told they would be required to teach the passage to another student.
In reality, both groups were tested, but participants in the group expecting to teach were able to answer many more questions about the passages, particularly questions having to do with major ideas. According to lead author John Nestojko, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, when compared to learners expecting a test, learners expecting to teach recalled more material correctly, they organized their recall more effectively and they had better memory for especially important information. (