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Teams of 3-4 students learn different aspects of the same problem or issue and then teach it to their classmates; members of the first group learn the material on their own and next discuss it among themselves (including how to teach it to other students), the class then breaks up into a second groupings of 3-4 with one representative from the first group and each student teaches their own area of expertise; for example a chapter of a book could be divided into 4 parts with students working in jigsaw? groups to discuss the whole chapter; the second group should be given a problem that requires the total set of information. The jigsaw is a popular cooperative learning? strategy for material that can easily be divided into 3-4 logical sub-components. The idea is that students first work with team members to become "expert" on one aspect of the whole (e.g. part of a text chapter). Then the class is rearranged into a second set of groups so that each second team has someone who is expert on each sub-component (e.g. each part of the chapter). Students in the second group teach one another each segment and then, with all the jigsaw pieces now available, they put them together to solve a puzzle. The success of the jigsaw depends on your students understanding their piece of the whole and their ability to teach this to their colleagues. Before you do the actual jigsaw you will have to work with the class so that they understand the meaning of this responsibility. Depending of the sophistication of the students, you may want to develop rules with them for their conduct in both groups. Good rules include: each person in group 1 is responsible for helping each team member comprehend the information, everyone must make sure that they personally understand what they will be teaching, members of group 1 should work on strategies for teaching their piece including aspects that they found difficult to grasp, "teachers" in group 2 should insure that each team member understands the information they are explaining, and everyone in group 2 should insure that they comprehend what is being taught. The jigsaw is more challenging than other cooperative group approaches because moving students around can be confusing and because it depends on students actually teaching each other with you not present. Its success largely depends on your preparing and "training" the students and also talking with them about why you are using this approach in the first place. As the students work together in their groups they will inevitably turn to you for answers to their questions. Try not to answer their questions directly but instead ask leading questions that will help them figure out the answer for themselves. if you have teaching assistants, you will have to teach them how to do this. The jigsaw often works best if it is done during classtime when you are available to help students and they are all present. If you cannot give this much class time to this problem, an alternative is to have the first group meet outside of class and the second in class. This is not possible in many colleges and groupwork via computer is another alternative.


See also: Student-Active Teaching