How to Leverage the Jigsaw Teaching Strategy for Your Classroom

How to Leverage the Jigsaw Teaching Strategy for Your Classroom
The Editorial Team November 28, 2023

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Using innovative teaching techniques can help you promote active learning and engagement among your students. The jigsaw teaching strategy is a powerful tool at your disposal to foster collaboration and deeper comprehension in your classes.

As Dr. Theodore Panitz discovered, through its structured cooperative learning model, the jigsaw method empowers students to take ownership of their learning process, promoting both individual accountability and group interdependence. The jigsaw method of teaching is based on a philosophy of collaborative learning that can invigorate students and educators alike.

The jigsaw teaching strategy

At its core, the jigsaw instructional strategy involves breaking down course material into parts, assigning these sections to small groups or individuals, and then bringing everyone back together to share their knowledge. Students become experts in their specific segment and then collaborate to assemble the full picture.

The jigsaw classroom strategy not only encourages in-depth comprehension of the material but also nurtures essential teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Jigsaw methods of teaching

Success in implementing the jigsaw method relies on your active awareness and knowledge of the students in your classroom. Capitalizing on the strengths of each individual for the benefit of the entire group is what drives the assignment process. Your material should also lend itself to simple distribution as you delegate the coverage of the content.

Some helpful ideas include:

  • Carefully select your material.
  • Create group assignments.
  • Ensure each student within a group is responsible for mastering a unique segment.
  • Foster individual accountability.
  • Facilitate an environment of active listening.

When the information gathering is finished, you’ll want to emphasize the importance of each student sharing their expertise. This not only encourages participation but also ensures each student is valued for their contribution.

How to set up a classroom for jigsaw teaching

In addition to keeping time management in mind, you also need to ensure your classroom is an environment that fosters collaboration and allows for creativity when your students take center stage as instructors.

The success of the jigsaw method in the classroom heavily relies on how the space is organized and the dynamics within it. You’ll want to create an inclusive environment where sharing and learning from one another feel natural.

This could be accomplished by:

  • Having desks arranged in clusters to better isolate each group
  • Ensuring easy access to classroom materials
  • Allowing ample space for movement and flow
  • Modeling acceptance of different perspectives and viewpoints
  • Fostering mutual respect and active communication
  • Creating small, diverse groups
  • Providing clear instructions on roles and responsibilities
  • Setting specific guidelines for communication and interaction

The goal is to create an atmosphere where each student feels valued and is an integral part of the collective learning process. It’s vital to establish an environment where students are comfortable sharing and learning from one another.

Jigsaw classroom activities

In the jigsaw classroom, activities often involve a manageable portion of content and the creativity of each small group. Be sure you allow sufficient time for each group to become proficient in their area of focus. This might entail more than one session of class.

Here are a few ideas across different subjects:


In a study of World War II, you may have one group focus on the European Theater while another group examines the Pacific Theater. Allow the groups to decide who covers what, but provide a basic framework such as:

  • Mapping the battle sites
  • A timeline of events
  • Important leaders
  • Successes or failures of all sides involved

After thorough research and analysis, the results of their findings will help your students piece together a comprehensive overview of the entire war.


If you need your students to conduct a complex experiment, divide it into distinct phases or components. Your group divisions could be:

  • Experimental setup
  • Data collection
  • Analysis
  • Interpretation

Each group masters their part before joining forces to reconstruct the entire experiment, analyzing the collective results. You could even repeat the exercise but mix up the groups so each group has the chance to complete each part.

English Literature

When studying a novel, you can divide the chapters or sections among groups. Each group becomes an expert in their assigned portion, which includes:

  • Analyzing themes
  • Dissecting characters
  • Identifying literary devices

They then collaborate to present their insights and interpretations of the text. This allows your class as a whole to construct a cohesive understanding of the entire narrative.


For angle concept mastery, you can have groups cover each of the following:

  • Basic angle definitions and characteristics
  • Angle measurement with the use of protractors
  • Angle relationships (complementary, supplementary, parallel, perpendicular, etc.)
  • Practical applications and real-world examples, such as architecture or sports

Each group conducts research, studies examples, and understands the intricacies of their assigned angle types. Then, they teach their part to their peers.


When implementing a jigsaw reading activity, consider dividing a text into sections and make assignments that align with specific reading skills or concepts such as:

Have your groups focus on one skill at a time as they work toward mastery. They each have a different section of the original text, so everyone’s input is needed to create a cohesive result.


In Mathematics, the jigsaw method parallels how many math concepts are traditionally taught. Because you’re breaking down your content for individual groups to solve, you can simply take the steps involved and assign them systematically, with a specific order in which each group presents.

One concept to use is addition, and you might divide your groups into:

  • Single-digit addition
  • Place value
  • Regrouping
  • Multidigit addition
  • Number line addition
  • Properties of addition (commutative and associative)

Each one of these components contributes to the whole of understanding. Different groups master each step, and through collaboration, they piece together the entire concept. Using math manipulatives can boost hands-on experience and help simplify the abstract.

Effectiveness of the jigsaw method

Educational social psychologist Elliot Aronson created the jigsaw method. His research shows that students engaged in this style of teaching display increased academic achievement, improved social skills, and reduced prejudice among diverse groups. The cooperative nature of the method helps promote understanding among students from various backgrounds.

The National Library of Medicine compiled data from 69 studies on cooperative learning. While the overall results showcased some degree of improvement across the board, success varied based on how well it fit the teaching environment and content. The study recommended a more extensive look at the varying factors to make it work better for everyone. It also encouraged teacher training to ensure maximum effectiveness.

The jigsaw teaching method provides a dynamic approach to learning. It enhances academic understanding and cultivates crucial interpersonal skills, such as critical thinking and empathy. Through its emphasis on collaboration, individual accountability, and active participation, the jigsaw method fosters a holistic approach to learning and promoting a sense of community within the classroom.

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