Two Pills Tips: Gettin' Jiggy with Jigsaw Learning!


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Are you looking for a new form of active learning? Or do you want support for a form that you are already doing? Do you want your students to be more engaged, accountable, and responsible for their own learning? Let’s talk about the Jigsaw method for cooperative learning.

Cooperative learning usually involves small groups of students who contribute to each other's learning. (I have primarily used this particular method for students on rotations). Student interactions lead to opportunities for improving communication skills, and problem-solving. The jigsaw method involves dividing up parts of the assignment or problem (jigsaw pieces) and then assigning groups of students to become “experts” in one area of the problem. Students learn the new material then teach their knowledge to peers. Everyone then is able to see the final completed puzzle with all of the unique pieces discussed.

Benefits of the jigsaw method:

-peer teaching and learning

-facilitating small group discussion

-active engagement

-practically, as a preceptor, you do not have to plan the entire discussion

-students are held responsible and accountable for their individual section of the material

-SOTL studies indicate that students benefit from this method, whether the learner or the expert


-Each student assigned reading material to complete individually

-Students assigned reading material and decide how best to present the information to the group

-Groups meet with each student sharing information on his/her reading to the other learners

Specific Jigsaws I have assigned to experiential students:

Acid base (each person takes a type-metabolic acidosis, alkalosis, mixed, etc)

Routinely use w/ stats Tuesday each week-each student takes a statistical test and brings a description and clinical example of each

Maintenance fluids (each person takes a type-salines (NS and half normal), fluids w/ D5, calculations, etc)

Recently-new vancomycin guidelines; assigned each student an article on AUC monitoring in vancomycin and all assigned to read the new guideline


-Assign the readings, do not allow students to find their own, especially if it is a new/complex topic

-Give time for them to read and plan-most of my students create a handout that they can then follow up with after the verbal discussion