Jigsaw Strategy: Instructional Strategy for Active Learning and Motivation

I made the following video presentation on the Jigsaw Instructional Strategy. In this video, I explore how the method works, the advantages, limitations, best context and practices, and more.


To summarize the video, students are assigned to expert groups where each groups learns a different subtopic of the course and develops a teaching approach. Jigsaw groups are then formed and is comprised of a student from each expert group. Each student in the jigsaw group takes turns teaching their area of expertise.

The Jigsaw Method is great not only because of its demonstration of Active Learning and its ability to encourage depth of knowledge,  but also because it has built-in factors for intrinsic motivation.

If we revisit the three factors that Dan Pink mentions in his TedTalks video, we can see that the Jigsaw strategy satisfies the factors.

Intrinsic Motivator How Jigsaw Fits In
Autonomy Learners are autonomous as they are in control of how they want to learn or present the information to their groups – expert and jigsaw.
Mastery Mastery is accounted for as they need to be experts on their subject matter to be able to teach others.
Purpose Purpose is fulfilled in that they are part of something larger. In order to get a full picture of what is being learned, they are driven to learn from other members in their group and to teach the other members.

Jigsaw does have its limitations. For instance, you do need to ensure that the number of subtopics you have (for the expert groups) are equally divisible by the number of students in your classroom. Otherwise, you may have students who are left out.

Do all instructional strategies that involve active learning have built-in intrinsic motivators? I suppose as I explore more instructional strategies in this blog, I will take note of any correlations. If there is a correlation, this means this approach to teaching is sound and best suited for adult learners.

  1. I am very impressed with your video.

    • Thanks, Doug! The toughest part was drawing out those pictures in the Google Docs version of Paint…but it was fun!

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