Benchmarking to Kahneman’s Peak End Rule

He won a Nobel Prize for his ideas about how a person remembers two things best during a holiday trip or similar experience; the most striking event, be it good or bad, and the end event.[1]

How I use it: Contrary to the impression I try very hard to give you, my classes are not always breathtaking. In fact, they are very often boring. I hate boring classes and do all that I can to make them interesting but we can’t win every time. But from Kahneman I learned to make at least one part of the class and the end very interesting or even exciting.

I may do this with a game, a short film clip that we use for a speaking exercise or a pairwork/groupwork activity that is highly interactive with other pairs or groups (not just sit at your desk). It has to be something that actually makes students forget they are sitting in an English classroom having an English lesson and to really feel they are trying to “sell a holiday package to the moon” or “apply for a job as Spiderman”, etc.

Since I learned the Peak End Rule, at the end of every single class I do three things, (1) try to end with something very active, (2) sum up what we did and learned during the lesson and (3) very important: ask the students if it helped their English and get them to reply to that question. It is something like this: “OK everybody, we’re out of time now! So what did we do today? We learned about making phone calls. We learned ten new words. And we practiced making phone calls and we actually called a hotel in New York! Wasn’t that interesting?! Have you ever called New York before? Haha! OK, did I help your English today?” “YES!” “OK, I’m happy I helped your English! That’s all for today! See you next week!”

Before, many students would leave the class without a firm picture in their mind of what happened. If someone asked them they might say, “Oh, we played a game but I don’t know if we learned anything.” So now I make sure that they leave my classroom with a clear label of what happened, a clear feeling of accomplishment. One, I learned such-and-such. Two, it helped my English. Personally, I know it helped their English. But it’s important to make sure
they know it and say it, too.

Nobel winner Kahneman’s Peak End Rule:


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