THE JIGSAW CLASSROOM [Aronson and associates, 1978].

"The jigsaw classroom is not a loose, 'anything goes' situation. It is highly structured. Interdependence is required. It is the element of "required" interdependence among students which makes this a unique learning method, and it is this interdependence that encourages the students to take an active part in their learning." (Aronson et al, 1978, p. 28). Text material is divided into discrete chunks of information. The number of "chunks" is equal to the size of the groups which are used, approximately 4 to 6 member groups. Each group member becomes an expert on their chunk of information by studying that information with members of other groups who are supposed to be learning the same chunk of information. Then the experts go back to their home groups and are responsible for making sure the other members of their group know their expert information. At the end of the unit of study, the students are tested over the information which they should have learned.

Variations on this structure have been contributed by many teachers. David Carroll's (1986) study is an example used in undergraduate psychology classrooms. Robert Slavin (1986) has used a version entitled Jigsaw II in which a handicapping scheme is applied to students of differing abilities. Sometimes bonus points are given to groups who perform better than others, (cooperation with inter- group competition.)

Aronson, E., Blaney, N., Sikes, J., Stephan, G., & Snapp, M. (1978). The Jigsaw Classroom. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publication.

SCRIPTED COOPERATIVE DYADS (SCD)[Dansereau and associates].

This highly structured cooperative technique requires pair partners to exchange multiple oral summaries of 1 to 2 pages of text material. Partners are trained by example and practice to elaborate on each other's summaries. With regard to metacognitive abilities, partners are taught to detect and correct errors and omissions and to judge the importance of the ideas presented. This involves creating images, making analogies, and personalizing the information to make it more understandable and memorable. A typical set of instructions follows (from Larson & Dansereau, 1986):

INTRODUCTION. Two heads are better than one for learning complex textbook material. In this strategy, both you and your partner study approximately 2 pages of textbook (if one finishes first s/he should go back over the material until the other one finishes.) Then, one of you (called the "recaller") helps correct, amplify, and memorize the summarized material to the other (called the "listener"). After this is done, you both read the next 2 pages and the process is repeated with the 2 of you switching roles (ie., the recaller on the previous summary becomes the listener on the next one, and vice versa. Roles should be switched for each summary. This process is repeated until the entire chapter or unit has been completely studied. Your goal is to help each other maximize the learning of the material.

DETAILS ON THE TECHNIQUE: Study 2 pages using your normal methods (feel free to take notes). The one who finishes first should review the 2 pages until the other person is finished. Then do the following:

1. The recaller puts the material out of sight while the listener keeps the passage available.

2. The recaller summarizes out loud what has been read as completely as possible without looking at notes or the passage. Do the summary as rapidly as you can. Try to include all the important ideas and facts. Use note paper to draw or chart information while making the summary. The more you can represent the ideas visually to your partner the better. Put the whole summary in your own words, not the author's. (if necessary, the listener should interrupt the recaller to make important corrections).

3. After the recaller has completed the summary, the listener should do the following while looking at the passage.

a. to improve your and your partner's understanding, correct your partner's summary by discussing any important information left out and indicating ideas or facts that were summarized incorrectly. Use drawings and images (mental pictures) whenever possible.

b. help both of you remember the material better by coming up with clever ways to amplify and memorize the important ideas or facts. One way is to relate the information to earlier material in the chapter and to other things you know. You also can use drawings and mental pictures to aid memory.

4. The recaller should help the listener correct, amplify, and memorize the summary.

5. If you complete the chapter early, go back over it using the same approach.

This entire process should be active and intense. Debates and arguments should be resolved as quickly as possible. It is very important to keep the process moving along and still do good summaries. Don't get sidetracked by trivia and irrelevancies. Remember, you should switch recaller and listener roles for each summary. (Flip a coin to determine who should be the first recaller). After you and your partner have completed studying for the day, it is important for you to discuss what strategies and skills you have learned from each other and how you can improve your cooperative interaction in the future.

The above directions are those used in a cooperative learning situation. A "Cooperative learning script" which is often supplied to both members of the dyad is as follows:

Another version of this technique involves partners teaching each other materials which they have read. A typical "Cooperative teaching script" would be as follows:

Among undergraduate general psychology students, these techniques were found to significantly influence cooperative learning, especially with regard to the metacognitive activities which help achievement performance of the listener. The elaborative activities also facilitate transfer of learning to other material and situations. It is suggested that:

Dansereau, D. F. (1986b). Dyadic and cooperative learning and performance strategies. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.

Horn, E. M., Collier, W. G., Oxford, J. A. Bond, Jr., C. F. and Dansereau, D. F. (1998). Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(1), 153-161.

O'Donnel, A. M., and Dansereau, D. F. (1992). Scripted cooperation in student dyads: A method for analyzing and enhancing academic learning and performance. In R. Hertz-Lazarowitz and N. Miller (Eds.), Interaction in cooperative groups: The theoretical anatomy of group learning (pp. 120-141). London: Cambridge University Press.

RECIPROCAL PEER TUTORING (RPT) [Fantuzzo and associates].

This strategy is designed to promote mutual tutoring. The RPT procedure requires participants to assume both tutor and student roles. Students are randomly paired with a partner throughout a semester course of study. Before every class unit exam, each partner creates a 10-question multiple-choice test based on assigned readings and lecture material for that unit. They also provide a 3 x 5 index card for each question. The card contains the correct answer to the question and a reference to the section of the book or lecture where the information was presented. For the tutoring sessions, students administer their written exams to one another under test-like conditions. After completing the exam, subjects switch tests and score their partner's exam. Then they alternately provide one another with explanations for questions answered incorrectly. Students turn in their corrected tests and answer cards before every course unit exam. The RPT technique has been found to have higher posttest exam scores than two comparative conditions, and it also significantly reduces distress and increases student satisfaction in undergraduate Abnormal Psychology classes (Fantuzzo, Dimeff, Fox, 1989; Fantuzzo, Riggio, Connelly, Dimeff, 1989).

Fantuzzo, J. W., Dimeff, L. A., & Fox, S. L. (1989). Reciprocal peer tutoring: A multimodal assessment of effectiveness with college students. Teaching of Psychology, 16(3), 133-135.

Fantuzzo, J. W., Riggio, R. E., Connelly, S., & Dimeff, L. A. (1989). Effects of reciprocal peer tutoring on academic achievement and psychological adjustment: A component analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology. 81(2), 173-177.


The Johnson's model focuses on the positive influences of planned and structured controversy upon achievement and social relationships. This technique uses four primary steps including:

1) Choose a discussion topic. Primary consideration here is that the topic have at least two well-documented positions.

2) Prepare instructional materials including:

a. clear description of a group's task

b. description of the phases of the controversy procedure and the collaborative skills to be used during each phase (see discussion rules below).

c. definition of the position to be advocated with a summary of the key arguments supporting the position.

d. provide materials (including a bibliography) that support and elaborate upon the arguments for the position to be advocated.

3) Structure the controversy:

a. assign students to groups of four

b. divide each group into two pairs (dyads) who are assigned opposing positions on the topic to be discussed

c. require each group to reach a consensus on the issue and turn in a group report on which all members will be evaluated.

4) Conduct the controversy.

a. plan positions.

b. present positions.

c. argue the issue

d. practice perspective reversal

e. reach a decision


Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (1986). Academic conflict among students: Controversy and learning. In R. S. Feldman (Ed.), The social psychology of education: Current research and theory (pp. 199-231).


This technique is a "multi-mode" strategy developed to encourage student participation in theclassroom. Students are taught to use a new response cycle in answering questions. The technique is simple to learn and is applicable across all grade levels, disciplines and group sizes. In some cases (K-12) students can facilitate the process themselves. The components of Think-pair-share are as follows:

1. Students listen while a teacher poses a question. 2. Students are given time in which to think of a response. 3. Students are then cued to pair with a neighbor and discuss their responses. 4. Finally, students are invited to share their responses with the whole group. A time limit is set for each step in the process. Many teachers use curing devices such as bells, pointers, hand signals, or cubes to move students through the cycle. Students may be asked to write or diagram their responses while in the think and/or pair mode(s).

BENEFITS TO STUDENTS. Students have time to at least think through their own answers to questions before the questions are answered and the discussion moves on. They rehearse responses mentally, and sometimes verbally with another student, before being asked to share publicly. All students have an opportunity to share their thinking with at least one other student, thereby increasing their sense of involvement. Think-Pair-Share is a Cooperative Learning strategy, and as such has advantages for students in the areas of acceptance, peer support, achievement, self-esteem, liking of other students, and liking of school. Cooperative Learning also has positive effects on mainstreaming and relationships between handicapped and nonhandicapped students.

BENEFITS TO TEACHERS. Students have been found to spend more time on task and to listen to each other more when engaged in Think- Pair-Share activities. Many more students raise their hands to respond after rehearsing in pairs. Students may have better recall due to increased "wait time," and the quality of responses may be better. Like students, teachers also have more time to think when using Think-Pair-Share. They can concentrate on asking higher-order questions, observing student reactions, and listening to student responses. Class discussion can be a much more relaxing experience for teachers and students.

Developed by Dr. Frank Lyman, Howard County Public Schools and the Southern Teacher Education Center, University of Maryland.

ROUNDTABLE [Ellen Stine Miller & Karen Spencer].

Roundtable is a technique that can be used for brainstorming, reviewing, or practicing a skill. Used in a contest fashion (inter-group competition), it can also be an excellent teambuilding technique. ROUNDTABLE ensures that all members of a group are involved. Roundtable requires groups of 3 or more seated around a common writing surface. Participants need a pencil or pen, and one piece of paper to be shared by the group. The leader should announce the question or problem. Groups should be told that their job is to brainstorm as many answers as they can to the question or problem. They must follow certain rules in answering:

The key to Roundtable is the question or problem. It must be one with multiple answers and one which offers a high probability of success to all participants. You should relate the question to the purpose of the class, but keep it very simple so that all participants can contribute and experience working productively as a group. When time is called, results will be handled according to your objective. If the objective was teambuilding, each team should score its own answer sheet and count the number of correct answers. The leader should reward the groups with the most answers and ask them to describe their methods. (Alternatively you can reward the most unusual or creative answers.) If your objective was simple to brainstorm a variety of answers, a simultaneous sharing technique such as "Stand and Share" would be appropriate.

SIMULTANEOUS ROUNDTABLE. When the answers are long, groups are larger, or production of ideas is more important, send more pieces of paper around at the same time. Example 1: Have each participant begin to brainstorm answers to a question. Then have each pass his/her sheet to the left. Participants read and respond to the sheets they receive, then pass them on. Work continues until the papers have been passed completely around the table. Example 2: Give each participant in a group a different category for a response. For instance, if working on a school climate plan, categories might be speakers, topics, sources of funds, and incentives for participating. Participants write one idea on their sheet, and then pass them to the left. They will have a new category to respond to as they receive each new sheet. Work continues until the papers have been passed around the group several times.

Ellen Stine-Miller & Karen Spencer. Cooperative Structures for Administrators and Supervisors.


TheGroup-Investigation (G-I) model is conceived as progressing through a sequence of six steps:

The four critical components of Group investigation are:

All four of these critical components interact with each other, too!

1) Selection by group members of specific subtopics within a general problem area usually delineated by the instructor. Group members organize into small (2-6) member task oriented and heterogeneous groups. Students scan sources, propose questions, and sort them into categories. The categories become subtopics. Students join the group studying the subtopic of their choice (Key component here is INTRINSIC MOTIVATION).

2) Cooperative planning by students and instructor of specific learning procedures, tasks, and goals consistent with the subtopics of the problem selected in Step 1. Group members plan their investigation cooperatively; they decide what they will investigate, how they will go about it and how they will divide the work among themselves

3) Group members carry out their plan formulated in Step 2. Learning should involve a wide variety of activities and skills, and should lead students to different kinds of sources both inside and outside the school. Instructors closely follow the progess of each group and offer assistance when needed. Group members gather, organize, and analyze information from several sources. They pool their findings and form conclusions. Group members discuss their work in progress in order to exchange ideas and information and to expand, clarify, and integrate them.

4) Pupils analyze and evaluate information obtained during Step 3, and plan how it can be summarized in some interesting fashion for possible display or presentation to the rest of the class.

5. Some or all of the groups in a class then give a presentation of the topics studied in order to get their classroom peers involved in each other's work, and to achieve a broad perspective on the topic. The instructor coordinates the group presentations. Presentations are made to the class in a variety of forms. The audience evaluates the clarity and appeal of each presentation, as well as the professional quality of the presentation.

6) Evaluation by classroom peers and instructor of each group's contribution to the work of the class as a whole, in cases where groups pursued different aspects of the same topic. Evaluation can include either individual or group assessment, or both. Evaluation includes assessment of higher level thinking processes.

Sharan, S. (1980). Cooperative learning in small groups: recent methods and effects on achievement, attitudes, and ethnic relations. Review of Educational Research, 50, 241-258.

Sharan, Y. and Sharan, S.(1992). Expanding cooperative learning through group investigation. New York: Teachers College Press.

Sharan, S. (Editor), (1994). Handbook of cooperative learning methods. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

THE STUDENT TEAM PROJECT (STP) [Sherman & Woy-Hazleton, 1988]

This is a year-long public service project carried out by small groups (4-6 member teams) of graduate students. It is an integral part of the first year experience of the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) program and stresses:

Groups are assigned to solve a particular problem of a real community institution: eg., city council, a rural electric cooperative, a local recycling agency, etc. The STP technique makes use of a problem- solving algorithm based on the thoughts of Lippitt et al's (1958) descriptions of planned change. The 10-stage cycle is as follows:

Sherman, L. W. & Woy-Hazelton, S. (1988). The student team project: A long-term cooperative strategy in graduate environmental studies. Paper presentation to the Fourth Convention of the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education. Kibbutz Shefayim, Israel, July 5-8, 1988. ERIC DOCUMENT, ED 299-872.



This dyadic technique uses short essay writing experiences which are assigned throughout a semester-long course focused on psychological theories. The content of these essays is based on two sources: 1) a textbook chapter which discusses a specific theory of (eg., Piaget), and 2) a primary source reading (eg., an essay by Jean Piaget). At regularly scheduled times each student has to compose an essay question, as well as a brief model of the type of answer which they would find acceptable. Students are instructed that their questions should be comparative in nature and, as the class progresses, earlier material and chapter content (other theories) should be integrated into either the questions or answers. The questions should require some thought and not be trivial in the sense that one could construct an objective multiple choice format with highly convergent answers. Students prepare two sheets to bring to class: one containing both the question as well as their prepared answer, and the other one containing only the question. The later sheets are randomly distributed to the members of the class who are given approximately 25 minutes to write an answer to someone else's question. This is an "open book" essay experience and the textbook and related materials are freely available to the class when they write their essay answers. After writing their answer, they then must confront the person who posed the question, read their answer, and then discuss the points of convergence and divergence among each other. Reciprocal peer evaluations are also incorporated into this experience. On a 0 (poor) to 4 (excellent) scale, students rate each others questions and answers within the frame work of five dimensions including 1) general impressions, 2) importance, 3) clarity, 4) integration , and 5) creativity. The instructor also rates all questions and answers in a similar manner. The sum of all these ratings is computed and then a percentage score (out of 120 total possible points) is computed. This technique is positively accepted by post-graduate students who find it challenging and satisfying. It is based on postmodern thought, higher level thinking processes and the introduction of conceptual conflict, arousal and motivation through integrating the writing process into the psychology curriculum.

     I.  To be accomplished outside of class.
          1.  Text Reading.  Entire class reads the exact
          same two pieces of literature:
               A. A chapter of text focusing on a
               specific developmental theory: eg, Erik
               Erikson's Psycho-Social Theory of
               Personality Development).

               B. A primary source "reading" handed out
               by the instructor: eg., an article
               written by Erik Erikson.

          2.  Question Writing.  Each student writes a
          question attempting to integrate or link issues
          which they perceive to be important in both
          reading assignments.

          3.  Answer Writing.  Each student then writes a
          model answer to their own question - a brief essay
          which is not more than one page, single-spaced.

          4.  Before coming to class each student reproduces
          a single copy of their question (their answer not

     II.  To be accomplished in class.

          5.   Question Exchange.  Students exchange
               copies of their questions with each
          6.   Writing.  Students spend approximately
               25 minutes writing answers to each
               others' questions.

          7.   While students are writing answers to
               each others' questions, the instructor
               makes copies of all the questions for
               later distribution to the entire class.

          8.   Reading.  Students read each others'
               answers.  The original poser of the
               question reads a peers' answer while
               that peer reads the originator's answer. 
               This is not always a reciprocal exchange
               and therefore usually involves three
               people:  eg., B writes an answer to A's
               question and C answers B's question,
               therefore B must interact with both A
               and C.

          9.   Confrontation.  Both students then
               engage in dialogue over convergent and
               divergent ideas which they have
               encountered in each others' essays.

          10.  Class Discussion.  A general discussion
               follows the passing out of copies of all
               the questions (see #7 above) submitted
               for that day.

          11.  Peer Evaluation.  Students evaluate each
               other's questions and answers on the
               basis of five attributes: 1) an overall
               General Impression, 2) Importance, 3)
               Clarity, 4) Integration, and 5)
               Creativity.  A 5-point scale ranging
               from 0 (poor) to 4 (excellent) is used
               to rate each of the five attributes.
          12.  Instructor Evaluation.  The instructor
               then evaluates the question and both
               answers along the same dimensions as in
               #11 above.  All rating points are summed
               for a total possible score of 120 (4
               possible points for each of the five
               attributes as rated by the instructor
               and a peer evaluator).

See an example of the DEC process here!
Sherman, L. W. (1988). A Pedagogical strategy for teaching human development: Dyadic essay confrontations through writing and discussion. Paper presentation to the 8th Annual Lilly Conference on College Teaching. Oxford, Ohio, November, 1988. ERIC DOCUMENT ED 305-629, and ERIC DOCUMENT ED 321-721.

Sherman, L. W. (1995). A Postmodern, Constructivist Pedagogy For Teaching Educational Psychology, Assisted by Computer Mediated Communications. A paper presentation to the CSCL95' Conference, Bloomington,Indiana, 17-20 October, 1995.

Millis, B. J., Sherman, L. W., & Cottell, P. G. (1993). Stacking the DEC to promote critical thinking: Applications in three disciplines. Cooperative Learning and College Teaching. 3(3), 12-14.