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Program Information

Developer and contact

Developed by Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar and Ann L. Brown in 1984, reciprocal teaching is a practice (as opposed to a commercially available curriculum) and, therefore, does not have a developer responsible for providing information or materials. Dr. Palincsar can be reached at the School of Education, University of Michigan, 610 East University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259. Telephone: (734) 647-0622. Fax: (734) 936-1606. Email:

Readers interested in using reciprocal teaching practices in their classrooms can refer to sources available through Internet searches for information. A list of examples follows, although these sources have not been reviewed or endorsed by the WWC:

Scope of use

According to the authors, reciprocal teaching has been used with low-achieving students, students who have a history of comprehension difficulty, and general education students.


There is no available information about the cost of teacher training and implementation of reciprocal teaching practices.


Reciprocal teaching is an interactive instructional practice in which the teacher or designated student alternately leads a group of students as they talk their way through a text. The practice is intended to help students improve their understanding of the text. The dialogue is structured to incorporate the use of four strategies:

  1. Summarizing. Students summarize the text that was read. The text can be summarized across sentences, paragraphs, and the passage as a whole.
  2. Questioning. Students identify key information in the text, frame that information in the form of a question, and self-test for understanding and recall.
  3. Clarifying. Students note when they have experienced a failure in comprehension, identify the source of that breakdown, and ask for help (for example, “What does a word mean?”).
  4. Predicting. Students make a prediction about what they think will happen next in the text.

The order in which the four strategies occur is not crucial. According to Palincsar and Brown (1985), adult tutors or teachers can work with pairs of students or with groups of 4 to 18 students.5 Palincsar and Brown (1984) also recommend that reciprocal teaching be carried out for at least 15 to 20 lessons.6 Professional development for using reciprocal teaching focuses on instructional strategies to incorporate reciprocal teaching into the curricula.

5 Palincsar, A. S., & Brown, A. L. (1985). Reciprocal teaching: Activities to promote reading with your mind. In T. L. Harris & E. J. Cooper (Eds.), Reading, thinking and concept development: Strategies for the classroom. New York: The College Board.
6 Palincsar, A. S., & Brown, A. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension fostering and comprehension monitoring activities. Cognition and Instruction, 1(2), 117–175.