The jigsaw strategy is used to develop the skills and expertise
needed to participate effectively in group activities. It focuses on
listening, speaking, co-operation, reflection, and problem-solving
Jigsaw method is a very useful tool for trying to help students
integrated knowledge and understanding from various sources and experts.
The basic idea is very simple: students are divided into groups which
all have their own research topic to study. After research each topic
group is split in such a manner that new groups have a single member
from each of the old topic groups. After the new groups have been
assembled each topic expert is resonposible for integrating the
knowledge of his/her topic specific knowledge into the understanding of
the new group he/she is in.
This is where the name for the method comes from: students are
organized like pieces in a jigsaw to form different kind of groups,
where each student (piece) must be part of the solution to the jigsaw
Jigsaw method is a group work method for learning and participating
in the following group learning activities.
- Listening - Students must listen actively in order to learn the
required material and be able to teach it to others in their original
- Speaking - Students will be responsible for taking the knowledge
gained from one group and repeating it to new listeners in their
- Cooperation - All members of a group are responsible for the
success of others in the group.
- Reflective thinking - To successfully complete the activity in
the original group, there must be reflective thinking at several levels
about what was learned in the expert group.
- Creative thinking - Groups must devise new ways of approaching,
teaching and presenting material.
Directions for the jigsaw strategy are given below. Information
about this strategy is from the Muskingum Area Technical College
(Zanesville, Ohio) Newsletter, September 14, 1994.
- Define the group project on which the class will be working.
- Randomly break the class into groups of 4-5 students each,
depending on the size of the class, and assign a number (1 to 4-5) to
students in each group.
- Assign each student/number a topic in which he/she will become an
- The topics could be related facets of a general content theme.
- For example, in a computer class the general theme might be
hardware and the topics might be central processing unit (student #1),
memory (student #2), input devices (student #3), and output devices
- Rearrange the students into expert groups based on their assigned
numbers and topics.
- Provide the experts with the materials and resources necessary to
learn about their topics.
- The experts should be given the opportunity to obtain knowledge
through reading, research and discussion.
- Reassemble the original groups.
- Experts then teach what they have learned to the rest of the
- Take turns until all experts have presented their new material.
- Groups present results to the entire class, or they may
participate in some assessment activity.
Jigsaw is a multifunctional structure of cooperative learning.
Jigsaw can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of goals, but it
is primarily used for the acquisition and presentation of new material,
review, or informed debate. The use of this structure creates
interdependence and status equalization.
Each student on the team becomes an "expert" on one topic by working
with members from other teams assigned the corresponding expert topic.
Upon returning to their teams, each one in turn teaches the group; and
students are all assessed on all aspects of the topic.
Process for expert group jigsaw
- Assign Topics - The learning unit is divided into four topics and
each student on the team is assigned one topic. For teams of five, two
students are assigned one topic and instructed to work together. For
three member teams, only three topics are assigned and the members learn
the fourth from another team.
- Expert Groups Meet - All Topic 1 students meet in one area, Topic
2 students in another area, Topic 3 students and Topic 4 students. If
eight teams exist in the classroom, two groups of each topic may be
formed to reduce the size of the expert groups. A balance of achievement
levels may have advantages for topic groups.
- Experts Consult - Experts consult and discuss their topic, making
certain each group member understands the information. A variety of
strategies for checking for understanding can be used. For example, work
sheets, cross group interviews, dialogue etc.
- Experts Create and Practice a Teaching Plan - Expert groups
design and practice a plan for teaching their expertise to team members.
- Experts Return to Teams to Share and Tutor - Experts take turns
sharing their individual topic expertise with team members.
- Demonstration of Knowledge - The culminating activity allows
individual team members to demonstrate their knowledge of all topics
identified in the unit.
Spencer Kagan, Resources for Teachers, Inc., 1992.
The Jigsaw classroom, Elliot
Aronson, Official web site for Jigasw Classroom method, website with
instructions at: http://www.jigsaw.org