Faculty Toolkit Heading Graphic
Faculty Toolkit Logo

Jigsaw Work Groups

Author: Kelly Rivera Subject: All Subjects Created: 2022-01-26
From The Author Jigsaw work groups are an innovative way to engage students in challenging materials while also building inclusivity in the classroom. As an instructor what I appreciate about jigsaw groups is the deep dive you can take with your students. With jigsaws, students take ownership of their learning and gain increased respect and value for their fellow classmates. The first time I tried a jigsaw was as a student in a graduate course on educational psychology. After that experience I began to implement a variety of jigsaw designs in my own classroom. I have found that with each jigsaw session students come away with new peer bonds and a renewed sense of interest in the course. Have questions? Feel free to contact me! Kelly Rivera Professor of Political Science Email: Phone: (909)274-6263 - Kelly Rivera

Impact on Faculty

Jigsaw work groups help to broaden student connection and deepen engagement with the course lessons.

Equity: One issue of equity that we must consider as instructors is how interpersonal relationships in the classroom may impact the learning experience. Frequently we call upon the use of groups to create student bonds and increase inclusion in the classroom. The jigsaw method takes that idea and elevates it. If each student’s contribution is important to the process, than, it follows, that each student is important too. The reliance these students now have on one another in their teaching groups helps to foster tolerance. By establishing equality of titles and reliance of information, this activity will help to break down prejudicial barriers and allow students to see the value and contributions of their peers.

Active Learning: By designating students as “experts” we activate their sense of responsibility over the material. A student who might have passively listened to group conversations in a traditional group activity is now actively invested to ensure that they understand the answers and that they can teach that information. This learning design increases students’ sense of responsibility over the material and raises everyone to the equal role of expert in their teaching groups. Students feel the importance of their role and they begin to own their piece of the puzzle.

Impact on Students

This activity allows instructors to bring challenging material to the classroom. It also allows students to work together and rise to the challenge of that material by providing a collaborative framework of success. Carefully consider group construction with this activity. Instructors can consider a variety of dimensions to use in the organization of students to increase desired outcomes. Want to help model to struggling students how to synthesize and engage with the course material? Then structure expert groups to include students at different success levels in the class. Have a divided classroom and little cooperation between varieties of groups? Then create expert or teaching groups to included members from these diverse group to get them working together.

Toolkit Survey

Toolkit Overview

This toolkit provides a presentation on jigsaw work groups including information on:
• What Jigsaw Works Groups Are
• The Benefits of Jigsaw Work Groups
• How To Design and Implement the Jigsaw Groups
• Jigsaw activity examples

Steps To Implement

1. Review the PowerPoint: Jigsaw Work Groups
2. Select a lesson you currently have that is challenging to students
3. Adapt that lesson to the jigsaw activity
4. Review results and adjust to meet the needs to your subject and student population

Toolkit Materials