Watch One, Do One, Teach One

Garth Waddoups In veterinarian school Garth Waddoups came to appreciate a simple teaching method called Watch one, Do one, Teach one.  It gave him the opportunity to observe, practice, and explain a medical procedure.  These three different ways of learning were helpful as he sought to understand and remember the procedures he was expected to learn in the program.  Now as an instructor at BYU-Idaho, Garth uses the same process to teach his students.

Watch one, Do one, Teach one, is an example of one of many ways that faculty apply Learning Model-type principles and practices in their disciplines.  In this case, experiential and then collaborative learning components are added to traditional observation.  After observing a procedure, students “act.”  They literally “prove” what they are learning by repeating the procedure themselves.  They then “teach one another,” meaning that they explain to another student what they just did and why.

Before using the technique in his courses, Garth takes time to explain this teaching approach.  He turns to the scriptures and recounts the experience of Nephi hearing of his father’s dream.  While pondering upon the words he heard from his father, the Spirit revealed to Nephi all the things that his father saw.  After experiencing his own vision, Nephi able to explain the interpretation of the tree of life to his brothers.  Garth explains to his students that in a way, Nephi went through the process of “Watch one, Do one, Teach one” when he listened to his father, experienced the dream for himself, and taught his brothers.  Together these three steps formed a powerful learning experience that deepened Nephi’s understanding and faith. 

In a similar fashion, Garth uses these three steps to teach a number of procedures in his courses.  For example, in the Animal Health Lab students learn how to administer a nerve block (before taking off the horns of a bull) by watching another student inject the anesthetic with a syringe.  In turn, each student has the opportunity to administer the shot.  Afterwards, each student gets to explain the procedure to another student who is just learning.  

The teaching approach changes the dynamics in the classroom.  When students know they will have to apply what they are learning, they are very attentive.  After applying the technique, they enjoy sharing their insights by teaching other students.  Garth explains that rather than being up front talking, he is able to roam the room and monitor what is happening.  “I am able to get a better assessment of my students’ abilities.”  If needed, he may occasionally step in to help a student group overcome a problem or misconception.  This allows him to monitor and assure the quality of the instruction when students are teaching each other. 

He explains that while it may be initially difficulty for some to participate, students soon see they are on equal footing as all of them get chances to watch, act, and teach.  After a few rounds of the process Garth finds that students enjoy the interaction and appreciate the various ways of learning.

The Watch one, Do one, Teach one approach is one of many structured processes at our disposal to help students teach and learn from one another.  Jigsaws, Mutual Peer Tutoring, and Paired Learning are additional approaches discussed on this website.
Posted June 18, 2009 Comments (0)

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