A flipped jigsaw approach combines two innovative pedagogies – the flipped classroom and the jigsaw method – into a single multi-stage approach. While still relatively novel, evidence suggests it may benefit student engagement, active learning, content retention and student satisfaction.
In flipped classroom, conventional lecture and homework aspects are reversed: students engage in online learning materials beforehand as the ‘homework’ task, learning at their own pace. Subsequently, when students come together with their teacher, the classroom becomes according to Sal Khan,
|“a place for active interaction, not passive listening and daydreaming. The role of the teacher will be that of a mentor or coach as opposed to a lecturer, test writer, and grader” (2010, quoted in JISC, 2015).|
In other words, with students having engaged with the ‘flipped’ materials beforehand and at their own pace, the lecturer’s role shifts from being a “sage on the stage” to a “guide on the side” instead (JISC, 2015).
In the Jigsaw approach, each student begins by learning one particular aspect of the lesson content only – like a single piece from a larger jigsaw puzzle – and then they subsequently exchange information with others in order to complete a given task. It’s a bit like joining multiple pieces of a jigsaw together in order to discover what the complete picture looks like. Since each student only has part of the picture initially, it is sometimes described as an information gap approach. The jigsaw method was pioneered by Elliot Aronson in 1971 as a way of seeking to reduce racial conflict in lessons (Aronson, 1978): because each student is valued for being an ‘expert’ in one aspect of the topic, and students have to work together collaboratively to succeed, it affords a highly dialogic and active approach to learning and teaching.
Flipped jigsaw approach
Combining flipped and jigsaw approaches together to create the flipped jigsaw is a relatively novel idea (Haftador, Shirazi and Mohebbi, 2021; Dewitt, 2021). So how does it work?
The lesson aim might be pretty much anything – from, say, learning about the life of Gandhi to investigating pedagogical theory.
Hopefully your class are accustomed already to working in groups: for this task, groups of 8-9 students can work well (e.g. Stapleford, 2021).
i) The flipped or pre-class activity: each student becomes an ‘expert’ in one piece of the jigsaw
Divide the learning material or content for the whole lesson into four parts. If the whole lesson concerns pedagogical theory, say, then these parts might be four distinct pedagogical theories. Or if the whole lesson is about the life of Gandhi, each of the four parts might be four key influences on Gandhi’s life and his thinking.
Once that’s done, within each group share out each of the four parts to be studied among the students in each group. So in a large group of 8-9 students, each of the four parts will be researched by 2-3 students for each part. Students can work individually or with others in their group working on that same part. In other words, the same task is repeated by all the groups; but within each group, smaller sub-groups of students research the four parts separately. This is how Stapleford (2021) reports using flipped jigsaw for her MA Digital Education programme. The key point is that at this stage, students only study the single piece or part allocated to them. So every student becomes an ‘expert’ in one piece of the jigsaw; and no student yet understands the whole topic. Students at this stage could report their findings on a group Wiki, for example.
ii) Online classroom activity: putting the jigsaw pieces together
Divide the class into break-out rooms, ensuring that each break-out room contains all four ‘pieces of the jigsaw’ (i.e. each breakout room needs to contain a minimum of four students with at least one student ‘expert’ for each of the four jigsaw pieces). Within the breakout rooms, each student then shares their particular expertise with the other students in that room: each breakout room team works collaboratively together to put the four jigsaw pieces together in order to gain a complete picture of the lesson topic.
The lecturer helps fill in any gaps and correct any misunderstandings during the break-out room activity and during plenary discussion, providing supportive formative feedback and feedforward throughout.
iii) After the class
If at the pre-lesson stage, a Wiki was used by the initial larger groups, tutors can provide feedback on this. Tutors can also continue helping fill gaps in student knowledge and address any remaining misunderstandings. Finally, a task can be provided requiring every student to demonstrate engagement and understanding of the overall topic (i.e. all four pieces of the jigsaw).
Potential pedagogical benefits of flipped jigsaw
Evidence indicates that the flipped jigsaw method can improve academic motivation among students (Haftador, Shirazi and Mohebbi, 2021) and enhanced team building, problem solving, critical thinking, debate and discussion skills (Dewitt, 2021). Meanwhile, Stapleford (2021) notes how the flipped jigsaw approach aligns with such pedagogical approaches as: the ARCS (attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction) design model, social constructivism, and active and social learning.
References and further reading
- Aronson, E. (1978) The Jigsaw Classroom. Beverley Hills: Sage Publications.
- Dewitt, S. (2021) ‘Flipped Jigsaw in Entrepreneurship Education’, in Arroteia, N. and Sindi, S. (eds.) Innovating in Teaching Entrepreneurship Business and Management in Higher Education: Best Practices in Times of Change. Dundee: Startup Finance, pp. 129-148.
- Haftador, A.M., Shirazi, F. and Mohebbi, Z. (2021) ‘Online class or flipped-jigsaw learning? Which one promotes academic motivation during the COVID-19 pandemic?’, BMC Medical Education, 21(1), pp.1-8.
- JISC (2015) ‘Learning theory and learning models’. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/using-digital-media-in-new-learning-models/theory-and-models (Accessed 13 January 2022).
- Stapleford, Karen. (2021). ‘Using the jigsaw technique for collaborative online learning’. Association for Learning Development in Higher Education, 12 March. Available at: https://aldinhe.ac.uk/take5-57-using-the-jigsaw-technique-for-collaborative-online-learning (Accessed 13 January 2022).