Assessing a Modified Jigsaw Technique with Theoretical Triangulation


  • Bill Anderson, PhD, CFLE Illinois State University
  • Rachel Rymer MetroHealth
  • Jennifer Versaskas Aurora University
  • Abigail Bueter Adler University
  • Mahalia Masood Illinois State University



jigsaw technique, collaborative learning, cooperative learning, critical thinking


The jigsaw technique has been successfully used in classrooms for decades, though less in higher education. Groups are formed with each student having a precise piece of information necessary to complete the assignment. Next, expert groups of students with the same material meet to sharpen their understanding before reforming their initial group to share their new insights. This study sought to assess a modified jigsaw format where students received their material two days before the class, began with the expert groups, and closed with mixed groups where students taught their material and completed the assignment. A random 30% sample of assignments (n = 110) from three classes was analyzed using a pattern-matching technique (Yin, 2013) and coded utilizing the six levels of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) and six significant learning types (Fink, 2013) as predetermined codes. One-way ANOVA found no significant difference between classes, F (2, 540) = 1.244, p. = 0.289, when coded with the taxonomy. Results were positive, indicating thinking well above rote learning (M = 2.9, SD = 1.233) with most (39.9%) students effectively comparing material. Coding was similarly positive for learning types (Fink, 2013), again, with no significant difference between classes, F (2, 501) = 3.036, p. = 0.084. Integration, making connections between varied information, was the primary type of learning (31.9%) used. Evidence of students learning about themselves was also noted (31.3%). The modified jigsaw was a well-received addition to the class and effective in teaching this material.

Author Biographies

Bill Anderson, PhD, CFLE, Illinois State University

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at Illinois State University. Dr. Anderson holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and an MS in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama, as well as a Master’s in music from the Southern Theological Seminary. He is currently a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) with the National Council on Family Relations.

Rachel Rymer, MetroHealth

Graduate student studying Child Life at Illinois State University

Jennifer Versaskas, Aurora University

Graduate student studying Social Work at Aurora University

Abigail Bueter, Adler University

Student in Human Development and Family Sciences at Illinois State University

Mahalia Masood, Illinois State University

Student in Human Development and Family Sciences at Illinois State University