Digital Project Review: Jigsaw

Sidrah Ahmad’s digital project on the jigsaw method can be viewed here.

Jigsaw is an instructional strategy that demonstrates collaborative learning.  Effective for student-centered learning, team-based learning, and project-based learning.  Applicable and effective when used with a variety of subject areas.  The best topics for this activity are easy enough for the students to teach but complex enough to require discussion.  The topics should be able to divide into an appropriate number of groups, with equal numbers in each group.

The learner’s role is essential.  Students are responsible for teaching their topic; in preparing for this, they must choose an activity that will allow others to learn from them.  Students work together in small groups and decide on general knowledge on their given topic and discuss methods to teach this material to others.  These groups are known as expert groups.  These expert groups then break up into jigsaw groups.  Each jigsaw group has a student with expertise from each expert group.  The students then teach each other about their area of expertise.  After sharing their knowledge, students return to their expert groups to debrief and then participate in a full class discussion.

The instructor must come up with the list of topics and ensure the division of the material is clear.  Preparation for topics can be assigned as homework.  As a close to the activity, the instructor can give a quiz to the jigsaw groups and have the expert groups evaluate the quiz, which can become a study guide.

The class discussion is important; everyone should be involved in evaluating the teaching strategies for quality, effectiveness, and challenges.  Pre- and post-testing in the expert groups can ensure preparation.  Student input into potential topics can increase engagement.  Closure is essential and feedback from the instructor on participation and expectations ends the activity.

I first experienced this method through the Instructional Practice course, PIDP 3220.  I was fascinated and intrigued.  Sounds funny, but I really enjoyed the experience and saw the benefit of it as a teaching strategy.  One of the things I have always been aware of is that if I am not able to explain a concept or topic to someone, I simply don’t really understand it myself.  I like the collaborative component of this strategy.  I like that the students get some insight into the challenges and successes of teaching others.  I appreciate the evaluation component and think the class discussion at the end is an excellent way to share and benefit from the insights and reflections of others.

I will definitely keep this instructional strategy in my toolbox for the future.

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