Instructor Development

Teach Backs


Michael Warren

October 6, 2022

October 6, 2022

If you ask most people how they feel about public speaking the response will not be positive. Paranoia about getting up in front of a group of people ranks up there with fear of spiders (understandable) and snakes (really understandable). But one of the best methods for determining if you, the instructor, properly and effectively is to have the student teach it back to you.

Now I’m not concerned about their ability to operate the remote. Or their knowledge of the PowerPoint slides. I just want them to be able to articulate the concepts that we covered.

If they can tell me what they learned, it is likely they can act on what they learned. And since training should always be about positively influencing behavior, this is what I like to call a “jackpot.”

And let’s add a layer. What if after the teach back, you ask them clarification questions? And they answer them correctly? Ding, ding, ding!!! They truly understand it. And don’t forget that this is part of the Science of Learning. You know - the frequent low or no consequence that requires effortful retrieval part?

The truth is that instructors (hand raised here) like to do the bulk of the talking. That’s one of the things we’re good at - talking in front of people.

But there is value, real value, in letting others talk. It ensures that the knowledge and information transfer took place. It helps to cement the learning. It strengthens the neural pathways. Let them do teach backs.