#13: Jigsaw Reading

(Aronson, 1980)

Purpose: A jigsaw provides a way for students to learn new content and also provides an opportunity for them to teach each other what they have learned and discuss implications of the reading.


  1. Instructor selects articles, excerpts from books or other text appropriate to course content.
  2. Provide one reading per person, or longer articles can be divided into appropriate sections.
  3. Divide the students into small Cooperative Jigsaw groups (e.g., 3-6 persons in each group).
  4. Have each member of the Cooperative Jigsaw group silently read the text assigned. Each person will have a different reading. Time: 5-10 minutes.
  5. Create new small (2-3) “Expert” groups with the individuals who have read the same material. Allow time for learners to discuss what they have read and how they might teach this when they return to their Cooperative groups. Time: 5-10 minutes.
  6. Recreate the original Cooperative Jigsaw groups. Have each person teach the rest of the group the material from the text read. Time: 5 minutes / person.
  7. Conclude with a key question(s) for the groups or discuss applications or implications of the ideas within the groups or with the entire class. Maybe combined with other take-up evaluation techniques to ensure that individuals understand the content.

For more information, including a graphic illustration, visit Boise State website.

Tips: This activity can easily be adapted for the large classroom. There are some strategies that make this process easier:

  1. Dividing students up into groups has the potential to take a long time. Give clear instructions about the division- you don’t want them to move too much and so making a suggestion that they turn and make a group with 2-5 people sitting in front or beside is a quick way to do this. Once they have their groups, instruct one representative to come to the front for the readings.
  2. When you are changing over to the expert groups, instruct students to find two other experts that are in their near proximity. Instruct students to raise their arms with the number of fingers raised that represents the number of their reading – this is how students will identify others in their expert group.
  3. You can put a stopwatch on the projector so students have access to the same timing that you are using, e.g.,  http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/
  4. If you do not have enough time for a larger group discussion about the issues, assign questions for students to answer in an online discussion board or through an assigned reflective journal due online before the next class. Once you have read student responses, you can summarize the main points in the next class.