Method Jigsaw
The Jigsaw Strategy is an efficient way to learn the course material in a cooperative learning style.

The jigsaw classroom is a research-based cooperative learning technique invented and developed in the early 1970s by Elliot Aronson and his students at the University of Texas and the University of California. The Jigsaw Strategy is an efficient way to learn the course material in a cooperative learning style. The method makes students dependent on each other to succeed. It divides classes into mixed groups and breaks assignments into pieces that the group assembles to complete the (jigsaw) puzzle, the final outcome. Working individually, each student learns about his or her topic and presents it to their group. Next, students change groups, divided by topic. Each member explains to the topic group. In same-topic groups, students synthesize points of view and information. They create a final report. Finally, the original groups reconvene and listen to presentations from each member. The final presentations provide all group members with an understanding of their own material, as well as the findings that have emerged from topic-specific group discussion .

Students acquire information independently from the teaching staff member and supported by peer students.

Aim To enable students to acquire information independently from the staff member and supported by peer students.
Target group:


This method can be applied to different subject areas in different disciplines. It is especially useful when a new topic is introduced that contains different perspectives or subtopics or sub-areas
Intended learning outcome
  • The jigsaw process encourages listening, engagement, and empathy by giving each member of the group an essential part to play in the academic activity.
  • Group members work together as a team to accomplish a common goal; each person depends on all the others. No student can succeed completely unless everyone works well together as a team.
  • It facilitates interaction among all students in the class, leading them to value each other as contributors to their common task.
  • Student acquire information individually
  • Next, students  process, elaborate and discuss the information in groups of students with the same information and task. They support each other in understanding and elaborating the content and help each other to become independent “experts”. This is called the expert round in expert groups.
  • In the next phase they go to another group and the assume responsibility for ‘teaching’ their fellow students (who are now experts in a subtopic or subarea) understanding concerning the content.
The jigsaw classroom is very simple to use. If you’re leading this task, just follow these steps:

  • Divide students into 5- or 6-person jigsaw groups.
  • The groups should be diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, and ability.
  • Appoint one student from each group as the leader. Other roles can be assigned to other students. (minutes maker, critical friend, time keeper, …).
  • Divide the day’s lesson into 5-6 segments. For example, if you want history students to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, you might divide a short biography of her into stand-alone segments on: (1) Her childhood, (2) Her family life with Franklin and their children, (3) Her life after Franklin contracted polio, (4) Her work in the White House as First Lady, and (5) Her life and work after Franklin’s death.
  • Assign each student to learn one segment. Make sure students have direct access only to their own segment.
  • Give students time to read/look at a video about their segment at least twice and become familiar with it. There is no need for them to memorize it.
  • Next, form temporary “expert groups” by having one student from each jigsaw group join other students assigned to the same segment. Give students in these expert groups time to discuss the information of their segment and to rehearse the presentations they will make once they go back to their jigsaw group.
  • Bring the students back into their initial jigsaw groups.
  • Ask each student to present her or his segment to the group. Encourage others in the group to ask questions for clarification.

As the facilitator, you should circulate from group to group, observing the process. If any group is having trouble (e.g., a member is dominating or disruptive), make an appropriate intervention. Eventually, it’s best for the group leader to handle this task. Leaders can be trained by whispering an instruction on how to intervene, until the leader gets the hang of it.

Finally, organise a way for students to present what they have learned and understood in their jigsaw-group: a video, a visual presentation, … that could be shared on e.g. an online learning platform.

Step 1-5 could also be done as a preparation by students before coming to class.

Preparation As teaching staff member, you need to carefully consider before the lesson the chunks of information that you will put forward on a theme.
Required resources and equipment Sources of information ready to access for students. Instruments for presentation.
Success factors The information has to be at the level of the students. They have to elaborate it autonomously.
Students must have the  skills to distinguish main from subsidiary issues.
It is important that there is enough time for every step to be taken
Advantages Different students have different kinds (dimensions, perspectives, aspects) of information about a topic, which urges them to explain what they have read and understood about the topic. Together they create their understanding.
Disadvantages It takes a lot of time.
Additional information For more information about the steps involved in the Jigsaw method on which this description is based, take a look at this site.

Jennifer Conzalez explains how Jigsaw works in this video clip.

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