ALTO - Jigsaw

​​​​​​​Return to the ALTO main page


Jigsaw is a novel twist on group work because students are required to master a topic and then teach their peers as part of a larger understanding. Jigsaw is popular with instructors because in addition to promoting higher order thinking, it contains both intra- and inter-group accountability. Students will start in their focus groups where they focus on a smaller part of a particular topic. Then students number off within group and move into new expert groups where each group member is now an expert in a specific aspect of the topic and now these expert groups can compile their information together to answer the larger idea. Jigsaw can be used for any discipline or instructional context.

Using Jigsaw in an Online Environment

As Dr. Bruner notes, the Jigsaw is a novel twist on group work.  It can be executed effectively online either synchronously (in real-time) or asynchronously (across a period of days).  Smaller pieces could be assigned in a WebEx classroom session, starting with teams in breakout sessions which work on a deep dive on their focus area and became “expert” in that content.  Then, students would be moved into a second set of breakout sessions where they bring their learned expertise and compile the information.  More complicated material or a more protracted timeline might be better accommodated asynchronously.  Students can be placed in groups for study of the initial topic area using a discussion forum​ or journal during the first half of a week, and later assembled into expert groups, to inform one another in the week’s second half.  Leaving behind the time-constraints of a single class meeting can allow for great flexibility in the jigsaw approach.  

Additional Information