Tools | What team leaders can learn about collaboration from the jigsaw classroom method

How can people in teams better connect, engage, and collaborate?

“The jigsaw classroom was first used in 1971 in Austin, Texas,” says psychologist and University of California in Santa Cruz Professor Elliot Aronson. He is the author of Nobody Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion After Columbine. Here’s why DK got curious about him, and the jigsaw method. As Jiddu Krishnamurthi said, insight comes from seeing without prejudice. Freedom is seeing this kind of insight. And this method is a way to get there.

Aronson“My graduate students and I had invented the jigsaw strategy that year [1971], as a matter of absolute necessity to help defuse an explosive situation.” Why should we pay attention to his research and ideas?

What is the jigsaw classroom method?

The method’s aim is explained like this:

The Jigsaw Classroom — a cooperative learning technique — is an efficient way to teach material that also encourages “listening, engagement, and empathy by giving each member of the group an essential part to play in the academic activity.”

At this website which is all about the Jigsaw Method and how it works, Aronson says:

“The city’s schools had recently been desegregated, and because Austin had always been racially segregated, white youngsters, African-American youngsters, and Hispanic youngsters found themselves in the same classrooms for the first time. Within a few weeks, long-standing suspicion, fear, and distrust between groups produced an atmosphere of turmoil and hostility. Fist-fights erupted in corridors and schoolyards across the city. The school superintendent called me in to see if we could do anything to help students get along with one another. After observing what was going on in classrooms for a few days, my students and I concluded that inter-group hostility was being fueled by the competitive environment of the classroom.”


Updated: August 2023