Learning by Teaching


Lernen durch Lehren


Enhancing individual knowledge through re-presenting content

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … re-presenting integrated understandings (sufficient for teaching content)
  • Learner is … teacher
  • Learning is … synthesizing knowledge to re-present
  • Teaching is … guiding, supporting, and augmenting student-taught lessons




Learning by Teaching is a strategy where students learn material through preparing and teaching lessons to other students. Students are encouraged to experiment with different methods and are responsible for ensuring that other students understand the material. Students’ teaching is supported by the classroom teacher. Associated constructs include:
  • Protégé Effect – essentially, an updating of the insight, from Roman philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BCE – 65 CE), that “While we teach, we learn.” The Protégé Effect is an acknowledgement of the enhanced insights into subject matter that can accompany efforts to support others’ understandings.


Rather than providing insights into the complex dynamics of learning, Learning by Teaching is focused on providing advice for structuring classroom practice. One specific technique of teaching seems especially problematic – namely teaching to inanimate objects (for example, explaining programming code to a rubber duck) – as it removes the social dimensions and benefits (e.g., peer feedback) of the process.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Jean-Pol Martin

Status as a Theory of Learning

Learning by Teaching is not a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Learning by Teaching is a theory of teaching because it offers techniques for structuring practices for students to represent – that is, teach content – to other students.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Learning by Teaching is more concerned with influencing learning than offering new insight into the complex dynamics of learning. However, it draws on Embodiment Discourses and it is supported by some empirical evidence.


  • Protégé Effect

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2023). “Learning by Teaching” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.

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