What are jigsaws?
In a jigsaw, the class is divided into several teams, with each team preparing separate but related assignments. When all team members are prepared, the class is re-divided into mixed groups, with one member from each team in each group. Each person in the group teaches the rest of the group what he/she knows, and the group then tackles an assignment together that pulls all of the pieces together to form the full picture, hence the name jigsaw.
Why use jigsaws?
The jigsaw is an effective way of engaging students both with course material and with each other. The peer teaching aspect requires that each student understands the material well enough to teach it to others (individual accountability), and each student is required to contribute meaningfully to a group problem-solving component (group goals). Research on this and other cooperative learning techniques shows significant benefits for students not only in terms of level of learning but also in terms of positive social and attitudinal gains.
How to use jigsaws
Designing an effective jigsaw requires different, but overlapping, team assignments and a meaningful group task, plus attention both to how students will prepare effectively for peer teaching and how the instructor will evaluate what individual students have learned.
Examples of jigsaws
The jigsaw is a hugely versatile structure that can be used in class, in the field, or in lab. Team assignments can be based on samples, data sets, field exposures, graphs, equations, maps, photographs, articles from the literature, and more.
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