A to Z of Teaching

jigsaw technique

A method of organising classroom activity that makes students dependent on each other to succeed. It breaks classes into groups and breaks assignments into pieces that the group assembles to complete the (jigsaw) puzzle.

The technique was designed by social psychologist Elliot Aronson to help weaken racial cliques in forcibly integrated schools. The technique splits classes into mixed groups to work on small problems that the group collates into a final outcome.

For example, an in-class assignment is divided into topics. Students are then split into groups with one member assigned to each topic. Working individually, each student learns about his or her topic and presents it to their group. Next, students gather into groups divided by topic. Each member presents again to the topic group. In same-topic groups, students reconcile points of view and synthesize information. They create a final report. Finally, the original groups reconvene and listen to presentations from each member.

The final presentations provide all group members with an understanding of their own material, as well as the findings that have emerged from topic-specific group discussion.

Synonyms:
jigsaw group

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