Jigsaw. A Cooperative learning method

Jigsaw is one of many cooperative learning methods with high effect sizes*.

  1. Divide a topic up into, say, four sub-topics. For example childhood diseases could be divided into mumps, measles, whooping cough and German measles. Alternatively students can be given four different key questions or ‘spectacles' that require students to analyse the same materials from a different point of view. For example all students are given the same information about the beliefs and policies of the Nazi party, and different groups look at this from the point of view of women, the working class, the middle class and the church.
  2. Divide students into four groups. The teacher chooses the groups and they should be mixed ability, experience, ethnicity gender etc. Don't use friendship groups. Students may complain at first but will soon accept it if you are insistent.
Each group studies one disease or question with the help of texts and worksheets etc. This is usually done in class time, though you might be able to adapt the method for students to do their learning outside of class time. (See Independent Learning)
  1. The students now form new groups. Each new group is a ‘jigsaw', with one student from each of the four original groups. Any students left over act as pairs in a full group. Each group now has one ‘expert' in each of the four childhood diseases. (They may have two experts in one disease)
  2. The new group now completes an activity that requires them to Peer Teach each other about their disease, and requires them to cooperate with the rest of the group over a combined task that requires them to integrate the four topics. For example they could be asked to:
    1. Explain your disease to the rest of your new group, using the same headings as for the earlier tasks. (incubation time, mode of transmission etc)
    2. Cooperate to find three things all the diseases have in common
    3. Cooperate to find, for each of the four diseases, four unique characteristics.
    4. Design a leaflet on childhood diseases. In your place the four diseases in order of:
• i. Severity of potential consequences • ii. Ease of protection

 

How to decide groupings with jigsaw

You can do jigsaw with any group size and with any number of ‘subtopics' if the following rules are followed:

Text Box: If you have N students and X subtopics then:    You must start with X groups, (with N/X students in each group.)  These then jigsaw to N/X groups (with X students in each group.)    Obviously N>X.        Ideally N>2X so all groups have at least two students.

Help! I have a remainder when I divide N by X.

Doesn't matter!. Let some subtopic groups be one student bigger than the others. Then pair students up in these larger sub-topic groups. For example if the remainder is two, you will have two subtopic groups that are one bigger than the others. Pair up two students in each of these groups and let them share the tasks.

This pairing up strategy will always work, whatever the remainder.

Alternatively, if the remainder is large, and you want to avoid pairing up too many students then consider the following:

Again allow some of your sub-topic groups to be one larger than the others. Number off and form ‘teaching groups' in the usual way. You will find that some of the teaching groups are one ‘expert' short. You can take the place of these missing experts by visiting these groups in turn.