Here is a great method for teaching the study skills sections in the On Course: “Wise Choices in College.” This method uses a collaborative learning strategy called the Jigsaw.

Instructors of any course can find a use for this multipurpose collaborative teaching strategy. The Jigsaw process is great for giving students the responsibility of learning and for teaching any body of information that can be segmented…so this same process could be used in an English class to teach grammar or a math class to teach formulas. In fact, I can’t think of a subject with which it couldn’t be used. It could even be used in an orientation to familiarize students with a body of information such as important parts of the college catalogue or campus resources.  The Jigsaw is a great strategy for adding student involvement and zest to the learning process.


SET UP: Students have a copy of the On Course text open to the chosen “Wise Choices in College” section: Reading, Taking Notes, Organizing Study Materials, Rehearsing and Memorizing Study Materials, Taking Tests, or Writing.


1) Put your class into home groups of 3 students each.

2) Notice that each “Wise Choices” section is divided into three parts. For example, the strategies for Reading are broken into Before Reading While Reading, and After Reading.  Instruct each member of a home group to choose a different one of these sections and become an “expert” on the strategies there.  Each person is to decide which THREE of the strategies in his/her section are the MOST valuable. (about 10 min)

3). Students now go to one of three “expert” groups.  That is, all students who are becoming experts on “Before Reading” gather…as do the other two expert groups: “While Reading” and “After Reading.”  Here the groups discuss the strategies they think are the most valuable from their section. Inform the experts that they will be returning to their home groups with the goal of teaching the three most valuable strategies to the others. (about 15 minutes)

4. Students now return to their “Home” groups (from Step 1).  Each student makes a presentation to the home group, teaching the three tips s/he has decided are most valuable. (about 15 minutes…5 minutes per person).

5. Any time remaining in the class can be used for class discussion…perhaps to see where there are similarities and differences between the choices of the different “experts.”

6. You may wish to have each student make a commitment to try one new strategy and report back to the class on his/her experience.

Teaching Tip: Be sure to be very clear about the directions for the Jigsaw.  Give all instructions at the beginning of the activity.  Then give directions again before each step.  Without good directions, your experience will be like herding cats.  With good directions, the students will be energized and have fun becoming “experts” and teaching others what they know.

–Skip Downing, Facilitator, On Course Workshops,

Forum Image OptionTeaching Study Skills with the Jigsaw Forum