Never in my classroom – correction and discipline

“Will you just shut up”.

A comment I heard more than once this previous semester.

Should we as teachers be allowing students to make such comments?

As a pupil myself coming from a mainly authoritarian tutelage, I struggled with this notion of the role of the teacher in correction and discipline.

We all know peer correction can be a trusted tool, in my experience it causes mixed results. Depending on the method and the nationalities/ personalities involved.

Undertaking the correction via email, skype, wiki, or in front of the class. The former requires either trust or monitoring from the tutor. The latter on a black board, flip chart or more recently using office and tracking changes seen projected on to a wall, has many benefits. Namely:

However in my experience with Chinese higher education engineering students this was not at all possible regardless of a heavy handed or silk gloved approach. In most cases except, those who had prior exposure to this methodology, the students exposed became less confident and lost face in front of their peers.

Which brings me to the group dynamic of allowing class mates to discipline each other. On the flip side as a tutor, shouldn’t we be the authoritarian figure?

And looking back at the peer correction and loss of face. I firmly believe some of this occurs in this scenario as well. Witnessing students blushing, embarrassed apologies and even feedback at the end of the course supporting this method. Also from the culprit of the unwanted behaviour.

Should we be promoting peer correction, and what limitations dependent on nationalities, personalities and group dynamic should we impose?






A native Brit, Stewart is from the East Midlands. He has worked all over England and has been in Germany since 2002. Through working with the youth and the disabled he has been able to fine tune his communication skills. A Cambridge qualified (CELTA/LCCI CerTEB) instructor of English as a Foreign Language, he also has experience as a copy editor/ proof reader specializing in Higher Education and Business English. He assists established companies & local English trainers (LELTA) in optimizing their platforms, markets & copy (texts). With a Bachelors degree in English & Art, he brings diverse skills within a broad palette to his academic courses, an English speakers community (So Social Club) & an art project (Lebenskunstler). Not only focusing on creative expression but exemplary use of language.

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