Online Lessons using Jigsaw Teaching Strategy in LAMS

Jigsaw is one of my favourite cooperative teaching strategies as it so easy to implement online with LAMS.

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

What is Jigsaw?

Jigsaw is a collaborative learning strategy developed by Elliot Aronson in 1971 and his teams at the University of Texas and the University of California.

The premise of the jigsaw pedagogy is that students rely on each other in order to build knowledge and expertise. A topic (jigsaw puzzle) is broken up into chunks (puzzle pieces) and then each of these pieces is assigned to a different student within a working group. Each student in this group is responsible for learning about their part of the puzzle and consequently teaches the other students in their group what they have learnt.

Using the jigsaw pedagogy, students are active participants in the learning process and consolidate their knowledge through the process of teaching it to others. The jigsaw process culminates in the group fitting all the individual pieces of information together to form an integrated understanding of the topic area.

How does it work?

TL;DR: if you prefer a video walk through instead, Jennifer Gonzalez from Cult of Pedagogy has an awesome one:

Step 1: Divide your students into groups — preferably maintaining an equal size across groups (4–6 per group). These groups are referred to here as jigsaw groups. In each jigsaw group one student is allocated as the leader. The leader will help guide the group when it is experiencing difficulty and can be coached by a teacher.

Step 2: Divide your content into 4–6 topics or “chunks” (same amount of chunks as students in a group).

Possible examples:

  • Apollo 11 Mission: Crew background, Apollo 11 spacecraft, Preparations, Journey, Landing.
  • Fields of Biology: Zoology, botany, microbiology, genetics, ecology, biochemistry.
  • Female Politicians: Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sanna Marin, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
  • Polar Bear: Features, Habitat, Diet, Behaviors, Threats

Step 4: Students meet in expert groups. Here students share ideas on their specific topic area, integrate any new information from other members and prepare a presentation to take back and use to educate their own jigsaw groups.

Step 5: Students then return to their original Jigsaw group. Here each student presents their chunk to the group while other members are taking notes, listening and asking questions. In this step, all of the original chunks are covered, one by one, to form an overall understanding of the topic.

Step 6: Finally, all the students are individually assessed on all the material across the topic — this is usually done via a quiz that covers each of the chunks. Students are given an individual score based on their comprehension as assessed in this test.

How do I use an online Jigsaw lesson with LAMS ?

Before you start creating your Jigsaw learning design in LAMS Authoring, it’s best to have all these items ready:

  • The topic area and defined areas (4–6).
  • Check that the number of students per group will match the subtopic areas e.g. if there are four subtopic areas then there will be four individuals per group.
  • Collate resources to be given to students in expert groups.
  • Questions for the quiz/exam.

Authoring your Jigsaw Learning Design

The learning design in LAMS for an online Jigsaw is pretty straight forward:

Online Jigsaw learning design about the Apollo 11 Mission

Activity 1: Intro to Lesson (with Noticeboard tool).
Activity 2: Formation of Home teams (Grouping activity with settings so students can select the home team they belong to or you can have the teams pre-assigned).
Activity 3: Introduction to tasks and flow (with a Noticeboard tool).
Activity 4: Formation of Expert teams (Grouping activity with 5 groups according to each “content area or chunk”.
Activity 5: Branch students based on each Expert team.
Activity 6 (in a branch): Share resources tool with resources (videos, book chapters, websites, etc) specifically for each content area/chunk (i.e.: Crew, Spacecraft, Preparations, Journey, Landing).
Activity 7: (in a branch): A collaborative document where each expert team can summarise their own “content chunk” and prepare to present it to their Home team (using a doKu activity)
Activity 8: A brief explanation on how sharing should occur when getting back to home teams (with a Noticeboard tool).
Activity 9: A forum (grouped using the Home teams -not the Expert teams) for each member to share their Expert team summary with the members of their home team. We use a forum tool, but you can use a doKu, Zoom or any other synchronous collaborative tools in LAMS).
Activity 10: A permission gate. Once that you think the students have finished sharing among their own home teams, you can open this gate so students can proceed to the…
Activity 11: A quiz to assess all students on all the “content chunks”. MCQ questions using the Assessment tool.

Let’s look at an example:

Online Jigsaw LAMS lesson: The Apollo 11 Mission

Following the activities above, I created an online Jigsaw lesson about the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon.

I divided the content in 5 chunks:

  • Crew,
  • Spacecraft,
  • Preparations,
  • Journey and
  • Landing

Take a look at the lesson in the LAMS Community and preview it as a student to see how it “plays”.

Other Jigsaw resources:

MBRU’s Nano-learning series on Jigsaw

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Chelsea Bullock

I’m a Communication Manager and Outreach Officer at LAMS (Learning Designer App).