Interactive and online Jigsaw group activities

Interactive and online Jigsaw group activities

"Jigsaw classroom" is a teaching technique invented in 1971 by the American social psychologist Elliot Aronson.

It uses a cooperative learning strategy that strongly encourages students to listen, engage, interact, share and thus gives everyone a key role to play in the academic activity.

Interactive and online Jigsaw group activities

Resources produced as a result of a project: Escapade

Group size : Group (10-15 persons), Classroom (20-30 persons)

Modality : Presential, Hybrid, Distancial

Duration of the teaching method : In a session, An entire session

Special equipment : No special equipment

Type of knowledge developed : Knowledge, Social skills

Target Audience : Students, Professionals in training

Course Type : Tutorials (TD), Course

Preparation time :Quite short

Author and persons who made changes : Julien Rose

Why am I using this technique?

For my learners...

Motivation: The Jigsaw strategy increases intrinsic motivation by enhancing the learner's self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy (Darnon, Buchs, & Desbar, 2012). Extrinsic motivation is sustained by positive interdependence and individual responsibility that drives the learner to want to achieve a goal (Reverdy, 2016). Sharan (1980) presents cases of experimentation with the Jigsaw that demonstrate the increase in liking for school in children who have used this strategy. Perkins and Saris (2001) describe how the use of Jigsaw by university students reduced the anxiety and fear, usually felt, for statistics.

Presenting knowledge: Learners present their part to the other members of the group. Presenting and answering questions from the group contributes to the integration of knowledge. Like reciprocal teaching, learners learn by teaching others.

Structuring knowledge: Group work has benefits on academic performance, but also on strategy development and metacognitive reflection (Buchs, Filisetti, Butera, & Quiamzade, 2004). Interactions in groups allow learners to structure their knowledge.

Regulate: Exchanges lead learners to regulate their knowledge and to self-regulate.

For me, teacher or trainer...

The use of the Jigsaw as a teaching activity should not be the main transmitter of knowledge. It should be used as part of a diversification of activities within a module or a course. During this activity, the teacher's posture changes and he/she becomes a facilitator. He/she will play an important role in preparing and setting up the session and in accompanying the sessions. He/she must form groups that are appropriate to the level of the learners to ensure that the session runs smoothly.

During the group phase, the teacher's position is that of an observer, having to remain in the background in order to create a free and informal environment. He/she can take this time to analyse the session, the involvement and the exchanges of the students.

Framework and steps / Instructions

The framework

Jigsaw promotes intercultural exchange and negative stereotypes (cultural or thematic) would be reduced over time through this activity.

The preparation

The course requires preparation time as for any classic course.

The process

The class is organised into groups of 5 or 6 pupils (as heterogeneous as possible): these are the "puzzle groups".

  1. All the groups must appropriate the subject of the study:
    the evaluation of this appropriation will be done individually at the end of the sequence.
  2. The subject of the study is divided into 5 or 6 specific "segments" and in each "puzzle group", each pupil is responsible for studying one of the segments thanks to the documentation or exercises provided. Each student thus becomes an "expert" in one of the "segments" of the study topic.
  3. The experts work individually at first, and then meet in "expert groups" to compare what they have found and improve their understanding of what they should report back to their "puzzle group".
  4. The puzzle groups then meet and give the floor to each "expert" in each "segment". Each member of the "puzzle group" must, on this occasion, be able to summarise the contributions thanks to the various presentations followed by questions, exchanges and joint formalisations.


A formative or certificate assessment can be inserted at the end of the session to check the knowledge retained.


There is another variation proposed by Eliott Aronson concerning the implementation of a Jigsaw to work on communication between diverse people (gender, ethnicity, race, abilities) (Eliott Aronson, The jigsaw strategy, San Diego, Academic Press, 2002).

Points of vigilance

In some cases, the expert student may take up too much space or try to lead the group. To overcome this problem, teachers need to put the interests of the group first by involving other group members and by being vigilant (teacher observer/actor on the session). It may be important to define and explain the role given to the leader and what this entails.

It is also important that students in the background are involved, as this is also part of the leader's role.


The "puzzle classroom" or Jigsaw is therefore, in my opinion, a particularly fruitful model to inspire a multitude of educational devices, from kindergarten to university and adult education. I have used it in many forms, always with a double benefit, cognitive and socio-affective. I have used the puzzle a lot, for example, to make pupils or students reconstruct texts of all kinds (each having only a part of the sentences of the latter). The result is always extremely positive if, as Aronson suggests, one makes a point of checking the individual appropriation of the whole, and if one makes this objective clear from the beginning of the sequence.

Philippe Meirieu (Professor emeritus at Lumière-Lyon-II University, and honorary doctor of the Free University of Brussels and the University of Montreal)

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