We are very interested in that, but in our research projects we are focused on peer teaching and the development of teaching abilities in all K-12 students. We know that professional teachers at various grade levels compare notes on their students' progress in literacy, numeracy and more, especially highlighting those who are ahead of or behind grade level. We can expect similar conversations about students' pedagogical growth, as teachers learn more about early teaching abilities and as professional attention to peer teaching strategies becomes a more systematic part of the learning process. With that information, professional educators can encourage and develop an interest in professional teaching among those who show outstanding teaching abilities and interest year after year. This is what we do now with capable students in most subject areas. We can do that in teaching, too.
We find it changes little until the benefits start to become known, because Hoenny Center Professional Partners are already their teachers and our projects capitalize on what their students are already doing. When a teacher's project begins, the Hawthorne Effect may, of course, result in enhanced effort by some students. But audiotapes, videotapes, or an occasional classroom visitor seldom distract students for long. The teacher and the building principal will always be part of any Hoenny Center research planning that affects their students.
"Hoenny" rhymes with "penny." Adolph Hoenny was a prominent St. Louis attorney, and his wife, Inga, a graduate of Nerinx Hall High School and Webster College, was a mathematics and business practice teacher at St. Elizabeth Academy in St. Louis. To honor them, their family provided funds for the founding of the Hoenny Center.
The Hoenny Center does not currently take a position on this. However, we think we know enough now about the pre-college development of future teachers that we can recommend a pattern for the early development of teaching skills. We call this YouthTeachUSA. Click on that section of this web site for more. Teaching is already a career track in some high schools and is available to students interested in going to college as education majors. The number of Teaching Academy or Cadet Teaching programs is small, compared with the number of American high schools, but the number is increasing, especially in large city high schools. In addition, there are elective high school courses in teaching that are not connected with a career track in teaching. To strengthen teaching in America's future, we can and should develop new ways to nurture and support students' teaching interest and skills through preK-12 schools in the context of each academic subject.
Collaborative and cooperative learning depends upon peer teaching, and these are widespread, important classroom strategies in America. In this approach, students learn through teaching in addition to other means. Ongoing research [.pdf] supports the practice. Peer teaching broadens and deepens individual learning about the subject matter, promotes achievement, and supports positive attitudinal growth as well. Like their professional teachers, students experience the enhanced interest and deepened meaning that comes when one is called on to teach another.
The focus of our analysis is the educational situation that two students create when they enter into a teaching-learning relationship, or peer-teaching dyad. More specifically we study the motivations, strategies, and rewards of preK-12 students who engage in peer teaching. Interaction analysis, teacher personality research, etc. were earlier attempts to get at this issue with behavioral or psychological measurements of various kinds. We will take cognizance of that and other work, of course; but we don't intend to repeat it unless it is worth replicating.
We constantly examine the current research [.pdf] on peer teaching, and a report summarizing this research up to 2002, and a supplement to 2005, are available on this web site. First, we noticed that most of this research, and much of the research on constructivist classrooms, focuses on various valuable outcomes, but generally ignores growth in the teaching skills of students. We intend to make the teaching skills of students central in our work. Second, much of prior research analyzes the behaviors or school outcomes of individual peer teachers, or analyzes various whole-classroom characteristics. We focus on peer teaching dyads and on peer-led group instruction. Finally, almost all of the research on teaching is on college students and professional teachers. We will be looking at preK-12 students, and we will be building a theory of pedagogical growth from the early school years through high school. This is what's new.
Hoenny Center Professional Partners are teachers who have become aware of unique teaching abilities in some of their students and are excited about developing teaching abilities in all of their students. Below are some possible types of involvement. Each Professional Partner is not expected to engage in all of them, but chooses the focus that fits his or her time, experience, professional needs and interests. In general, the Professional Partners:
- Systematically observe students teaching other students
- Share observations and insights about peer teaching situations with each other, locally and nationally
- Build on-going support within schools for students with special teaching abilities and interest
- Develop materials and processes to improve kids' teaching and to help new Professional Partners
- Contribute to new research on peer teaching
For more, see the Professional Partners pages. See also our Research Project Grants program.
The Hoenny Center was founded on December 30, 2002. This is the leadership team:
- J. TERRY GATES, Ed.D., President and CEO
- MARY E. BICKEL, Ed.D., Secretary/Treasurer and Program Coordinator
- JERRI L. DAVENPORT, board member
- SARA FABICK, board member
- A. SCOTT HAGIN, board member
- KIRA A. HAMANN, board member
- WENDY G. TROXEL, Ed.D., board member
Click here for more about us, including members of our Professional Advisory Group.
Like literacy and numeracy, peer teaching enhances achievement in all subject areas. It has become an important learning tool. Furthermore, learning to teach effectively is basic to good parenting and productive community leadership. It is important in all occupations where people interact with the public and instruct others within the occupational group. We think it is paradoxical (and wasteful) that our society delays the systematic development of effective teaching skills in people until they are adults and confines that development to pre-service professional teachers.
Missouri's A+ tutoring program is unique. If a high school student graduates with 50 or more hours as a member of the high school's A+ tutoring program, has a 95% attendance record through high school, has a 2.5 (of 4.0) GPA in the senior year, and has a clear citizenship record, s/he can qualify for two years of tuition, fees, and a book subsidy in any Missouri community college. Over 530 high schools of the state's total of 560 participate in the program. For more, log on to http://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/aplusscholarship.php.