Collaboration and knowledge exchange among students are key to this teaching method. Together students puzzle their knowledge together. The puzzle cannot be completed without each other's expertise!
Start by dividing a theme into (sub) topics. Then you divide the students evenly (and preferably with an eye for diversity within the groups) over the number of (sub) subjects. See the example and the image described in the block Variants, tips & tricks below.
Designate a group leader per (sub) topic / expert group. This person is responsible for synthesizing the knowledge in the group. You can give the group instructions or guiding questions that they have to answer about the (sub) topic.
The groups prepare for their (sub)topic prior to or during the lesson. They thus become the experts on that (sub) topic. Together the group comes to a conclusion, summary or presentation. You can ask groups to briefly describe their findings on a flipchart or using an online tool.
After completing the summary, new groups are created: each group should consist of students who have all worked on a different sub-topic and therefore have expertise in one part of the whole.
The new groups go through all sub-topics and for each sub-topic one student presents the summary of that sub-topic and asks for feedback. Repeat this process until every subtopic in the new group has been discussed.
Discuss the assignment with the entire group. This can also be doneplenary, thereby completing the assignment. Process this in a final assignment or final summary.
If you have large numbers of students, establish parallel groups; multiple groups that tackle the same article/topic.
You can also do this activity online. You do this with breakout rooms.
- First, put students who have read about the same sub-topic together in a breakout room.
- Then change groups a few times a few times. This requires some organization to maintain structure and to monitor time, but perhaps there is a student assistant who can support you.
- In Zoom, as a teacher you can visit breakout rooms and listen to the discussions students have in their groups. At the end you can discuss the results with students in a plenary session.
If you want students to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, you can split her biography into the segments, for example:
- Her childhood.
- Her life with Franklin
- Her life with the children.
- Her life after Franklin got polio.
- Her work in the White House as a first lady.
- Her life and work after Franklin's death.
Divide the group of 36 students over the six segments and let them immerse themselves in it so that you get experts per segment. Then you mix the groups so that each expert presents a puzzle piece of the biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Image of the Jigsaw activity
Please consider the tools and materials mentioned here as suggestions. In many cases it’s possible to use alternative tools. Please turn to the Learning & Innovation team of your faculty (EUR or EMC) first to see which online and offline tools are available and how to apply them.
You can give the students a magic chart or large sheet of paper to make all their notes. This ensures that students can present something at the end and, as lecturer, you can also assess these sheets.