Jigsaw Collaborative Discussion Method – Equitable Teaching

Jigsaw Collaborative Discussion Method

Jigsaw Collaborative Discussion Method


This page introduces the Jigsaw method and describes how to use this method in classroom activities. Jigsaw was first developed as a way to combat racial bias among elementary school students. In the early 1970s, social psychologist Elliot Aronson developed this method after being asked to help diffuse tension in classrooms where black, Hispanic, and white students had recently been integrated. Aronson and his team observed that the students were learning in a competitive environment. With his research team, he recommended creating a cooperative environment where students had to depend on each other to learn assigned material well. In just a few weeks, students initially hostile to one another were, instead, encouraging each other to succeed and learn the material well. Racial tensions were largely diffused, and students learned the assigned material with a higher level of mastery. Read a letter from one of the students in this first Jigsaw classroom.

Research has shown this method is useful for learners of all ages. The primary strategy is to create assignments and activities that allow students to cultivate topic-specific expertise and then teach the material they have learned to other students in the class. Student groups are then asked to draw on everyone’s expertise to complete a task together or prepare for an individual exam.

Resource Goals:

  • To encourage students to cultivate confidence in themselves and each other using collaborative learning.

  • To mitigate stereotyping and other kinds of bias that create negative learning environments for students across all social identities.

Jigsaw Collaborative Resource Guide:

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