Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving (classroom)

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Facilitating a Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving active learning activity in a classroom

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeMedium
Student Activity TimeLow
Instructor Response TimeMedium
Complexity of ActivityMedium


Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving has student pairs receive a series of problems and are assigned specific roles that change with each question. The problem-solver thinks aloud about his/her problem-solving process. The partner listens, tries to understand the reasoning behind the steps, and offers suggestions if there are missteps.


Use it when you want...

  • Students to articulate their problem-solving process and listen to another’s process,
  • To increase students’ awareness of the range of problem-solving approaches, or
  • To improve students' analytical skills by helping them formulate ideas, understand the sequence of steps underlying their thinking, and identify errors in another's reasoning.

What students will need

  • No special requirements for this approach.


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving learning activity within a classroom.


  • Develop a set of field-related problems that students can solve within a limited time frame. The topic should engage students in all stages of problem-solving skills: identifying the nature of a problem, analyzing the knowledge and skills required to reach a solution, identifying potential solutions, choosing the best solution, and evaluating outcomes.


  • Ask students to form pairs.
  • Explain to them the roles of problem-solver and listener. Problem-solvers read the problem aloud and talk through the reasoning process in attempting to solve the problem. Listeners encourage the problem-solver to think aloud, ask clarification questions, offer suggestions, but refrain from solving the problem.
  • Ask students to solve a set of problems, alternating roles with each new problem.
  • End the activity when students have solved all problems.
  • Review the students’ solutions to the problems they studied.
  • Review the outcomes of the activity.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

Technical Documentation


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 226-231.

See Also:

Keywords:think-aloud, pair, problem-solving, active learning   Doc ID:104148
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2020-07-20 09:21 CSTUpdated:2021-08-20 13:25 CST
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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