ERIC Number: EJ1088148
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Put Students in Charge: A Variation on the Jigsaw Discussion
Benton, Raymond, Jr.
College Teaching, v64 n1 p40-45 2016
In this article Raymond Benton, Jr. describes how he implemented a variation on Eliot Aronson's (Aronson et al. 1978) "jigsaw classroom" activity. While there are similarities between Aronson's jigsaw classroom and what is described here, there are differences as well. In Aronson's system, the classroom was divided into subgroups. Each subgroup, focused on one particular aspect of the overall assignment, had direct access to only his or her piece of the puzzle, becoming the experts on that particular aspect. Since no single student had all the necessary information needed to complete the assignment, each student became a valuable and necessary resource for the other students. In order to complete the assignment, each student had to rely on all other students in the groupings. Aronson developed the jigsaw-classroom to address inequities in the U.S. educational system, as a way to counter prejudice in school, to improve intergroup relations, and to promote educational integration. In contrast Benton's purpose was to develop a discussion format that would involve students, encourage them to participate, and to be responsible for their own and others' education. In Benton's design, all students do have access to and are expected to read, study, and become knowledgeable about all aspects of the assignment. Students, in his design, are to "ask questions" and to "answer questions," but not "teach" the lesson. The method presented in this article is a four-step process that works best with small groups but can also be used in large classes. Each student is assigned to a reading group and to a discussion group, thereby having a dual designation: A1, B2, C3 and so on. All students must read all assigned readings in advance. Students are given their group assignments when they arrive for class, "after" they have read all assignments. Benton uses a computer-generated set of random numbers to assign students to reading groups. Each student in a reading group is then randomly assigned to a discussion group. Randomized groups can be created using birthday order, drawing cards from a hat as they come to class, or alphabetizing the student list by the second letter of the first name. Each of the steps of the classroom activity and the students' reactions to it are detailed herein.
Descriptors: Teaching Methods, Group Activities, Classroom Techniques, Assignments, Intergroup Relations, Cooperative Learning, Instructional Effectiveness, Reading, Group Discussion, Group Dynamics, Class Activities, Student Reaction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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