By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
I've known this since my days as a college professor: If you really want to learn something, then try teaching it. And there's an important principle at the heart of that. The mindset of an active teacher is different -- and better -- than the mindset of a passive learner. When you're taking the knowledge in with the expectation of imparting it later, you think of yourself as an actor, and not just a recipient. As an actor, you're processing information in ways that make for a more sophisticated and durable understanding.
That understanding applies in a legal context as well. Members of juries serve simultaneously as students and teachers. The magic of a jury is its strength as a group: what one juror misses another will get, and the piece that was fully understood at the time by only one juror, might end up being the decisive evidence for the group. A jury's understanding isn't just an aggregation of each of the jurors' individual understandings. Instead, it is a true collective comprehension: they fill in the picture for each other. Watch mock deliberations and you'll see a lot of teaching going on. For that reason, there are some clear benefits to preparing jurors for that teaching role. Based on new research covered in a recent Psyblog post, when individuals are told that they will be teaching information to others, they will pay better attention and recall more of what they hear. That research (Nestojko et al, 2014) suggests that attorneys would be wise to explicitly remind jurors of their future role as teachers. This post looks at that recommendation, as well as a few other ideas for helping your jurors in their teacher-roles.