Professor Know-It-All



Once coverage of content has been completed, the professor know-it-all strategy can be enacted.  The strategy is appropriate after reading a story, a chapter from a novel or textbook, a lecture or presentation, a field trip, a film, or any other information source. Professor know-it-all is an effective review strategy because it positions students as “experts” on topics to inform their peers and be challenged and held accountable by them (Paris & Paris, 2001; Zimmerman, 2002). Other benefits are that students become well versed in the content, learn to ask a variety of questions at different levels of difficulty, and actively participate in the review process (Boekaerts,  Pintrich, & Zeidner, 2000; Spratt & Leung, 2000).


Teaching Process

1.   Begin by forming groups of three or four students.  The students should be given time to review the content just covered.  Tell them they will be called on randomly to come to the front of the room and provide “expert” answers to questions from their peers about the content.  Also ask the groups to generate 3-5 questions that they think they may be asked about the content and tell them they can ask other experts.

2.   To add a level of novelty to the strategy, some teachers keep on hand ties, graduation caps and gowns, lab coats, clip boards, or other symbols of professional expertise for students to don when it is their turn to be know-it-alls.

3.   Call a group to the front of the room and asks them to face the class standing shoulder to shoulder. The know-it-alls invite questions from the other groups.  Students should ask their prepared questions first, then add others if more information is desired. 

4.   When the strategy is first employed, demonstrate with the class how the professor know-it-alls should respond to their peers’ questions.  Typically, students are asked to huddle after receiving a question, discuss briefly how to answer it, and then have the know-it-all spokesperson give the answer. 

5.   Remind students asking the questions to think carefully about the answers received and challenge or correct the professor know-it-alls if answers were not correct or need elaboration and amending.  Initially, it may be necessary and helpful to model the various types of questions expected from students about the content. 

6.   After 5 minutes or so, a new group of professor know-it-alls can take their place in front of the class and continue the process of students questioning students.



Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P.R., & Zeidner, M. (2000). Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13-

39). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Spratt, M., & Leung, B. (2000). Peer teaching and peer learning revisited. ELT Journal,

54, 218-226.

Zimmerman, B.J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory Into

Practice, 41, 64-70.

Paris, S.G., & Paris, A.H. (2001). Classroom applications of research on self-regulated

learning. Educational Psychologist, 36, 89-101


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