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For thousands of years, people have known that the best way to understand a concept is to explain it to someone else. “While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca羅馬哲人賽尼卡. Now scientists are bringing this ancient wisdom up to date賦予新意, documenting exactly why teaching is such a fruitful way to learn — and designing innovative ways for young people to engage in從事於 instruction.
Students enlisted to tutor others, these researchers have found, work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively. In what scientists have dubbed被稱之為 “the protégé effect,”門徒效應 student teachers score higher on tests than pupils who are learning only for their own sake. But how can children, still learning themselves, teach others? One answer: They can tutor younger kids. The benefits of this practice were indicated by a pair of articles published in 2007 in the journals Science and Intelligence. The studies concluded that first-born children 老大 are more intelligent than their later-born brothers and sisters and suggested that their higher IQs result from導致/起因於 the time they spend showing their younger siblings the ropes教導/傳授訣竅. Educators are experimenting with ways to apply this model to academic subjects. In an ingenious極具獨創性的 program at the University of Pennsylvania, a “cascading層疊瀑布 mentoring program” engages college undergraduates to teach computer science to high school students, who in turn轉而 instruct middle school students on the topic.
But the most cutting-edge 創新tool under development is the “teachable agent” — a computerized character who learns, tries, makes mistakes and asks questions just like a real-world pupil. Engineers and computer scientists at Stanford and Vanderbilt universities have created an animated figure 動畫人物 they call Betty’s Brain, who has been “taught” about environmental science by hundreds of middle school students. Even though users’ interactions with Betty are virtual虛擬實境的, the social impulses社會驅策力 that make learning-by-teaching so potent still come into play發揮作用. Student teachers are motivated to help Betty master the material, so they study it more conscientiously認真勤懇的. As they prepare to teach, they organize their knowledge, improving their own understanding and recall. And as they explain the information to her, they identify knots and gaps領略到的各種狀況與細節 in their own thinking. A 2009 study of Betty’s Brain published in the Journal of Science Education and Technology found that students engaged in instructing her spent more time going over the material 複習教材and learned it more thoroughly.更徹底理解

Feedback from the teachable agents further enhances the tutors’ learning. The agent’s questions compel 迫使/強迫users to think and explain the material in different ways, and watching the agent solve problems allows users to see their knowledge put into action付諸行動. Sandra Okita, an assistant professor of technology and education at Teachers College, reported in 2006 on the use of a teachable agent by high school students learning to engage in deductive reasoning演繹推理. On a subsequent test後來的測試 of their skills, the students who had observed agents using rules of reasoning to solve a problem “significantly outperformed” students who had only practiced applying the rules themselves.
Above all, it’s the emotions elicited引出 by teaching that make it such a powerful vehicle for learning. 強而有力的學習工具Student tutors feel chagrin懊惱 when their virtual pupils fail; when the characters succeed, they feel what one expert calls by the Yiddish 猶太人使用的意第緒語term nachas. Don’t know that word? I had to learn it myself: “Pride and satisfaction that is derived from…. someone else’s accomplishment.”



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