Thursday, September 30, 2010

Using the Jigsaw Technique in Classrooms

My experience with the "Jigsaw" method of learning throughout school, although it was not called Jigsaw, was a quick efficient way to learn certain material fast. This method of learning definitely has its place in each classroom and as a history or government teacher I see myself using this approach in my own classroom in the future. The jigsaw method can have very different results when used in different situations, and consequentially, will have advantages and disadvantages of being used.

In history and government classrooms there is a need for quite a bit of research to be done. This would be a great time for the jigsaw approach to be used. I could infuse assignments dealing with collective learning to gain background knowledge about the area we will be learning about. Like mentioned on the Jigsaw website, having students research World War 2 (WWII) in parts and then come back and collectively put all the information together, gives the students an overview of WWII quickly and efficiently. 

The advantages of the jigsaw approach include: it being efficient, encouraging students to listen to each other, work as a team, and have a social engagement. The time reduction of not having to research all by one's self makes this process a huge advantage. Not only time as a concern, to complete the whole assignment the students must work together, listening and taking charge when necessary. The outcome of the learning will also be accompanied by a team goal being reached and possibly new relationships being developed.

On the other hand, disadvantages of the jigsaw approach are present as well. Some disadvantages include misunderstanding the content and a lack of participation. It is possible a group of students researching could get distracted and be led down a path not intended by the teacher. This could lead to the whole group not learning the correct information and, in turn, be behind the rest of the class. Another problem in any group situation is when a student does not hold his/her weight in the responsibilities. A lack of participation by one or more student in a group would lead to either, 1) the other students in the group have to cover his/her material and have more work or, 2) the group being with out that student's responsibility. Both of these would hinder the group's productivity rather than help them learn in a different way.