This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on active learning activities that take place in Active Learning Classrooms (ALC). More Active Learning documents
Using Think/Pair/Share activity to facilitate discussions in Active Learning Classrooms
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Think/Pair/Share poses a question, asks students to reflect on the question, and has them share their ideas with others. Think has students reflect on their responses to the question before speaking to organize their thoughts. Pair and Share ask students to compare and contrast their thoughts with a small group (often a single partner) and rehearse their responses before sharing with a larger group or whole class.
Use it when you want...
- To create an opportunity for students to listen to and practice comments with a peer,
- To increase students’ willingness and readiness to speak in a larger group,
- To improve the quality of students’ contributions, or
- To engage students in a warm-up activity before a whole-class discussion.
What students will need
- No special requirements for this approach.
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Think/Pair/Share active learning activity within an Active Learning Classroom.
- Identify an engaging question or problem that has many potential responses. Try responding to the question yourself.
- Decide how you are going to present the question (e.g., verbally, worksheet, presentation slide, or whiteboard) and how or if students will report the results to the whole class.
- The instructor poses the question to the class. Gives students time to think and often write about the question and devise individual responses.
- Student A is asked to share his/her responses with Student B. Student B shares his/her ideas with Student A. If the two students disagree, they clarify their positions so they are ready to explain their differences.
- Once pairs have completed their sharing, the table engages in a table discussion.
- In some cases, the table may create a joint response by building on each other’s ideas.
- Ask one or two tables to summarize their discussion. You can consider Using Top Hat to Report Results from Group Activities if you want the reporting to be anonymous. Ask the rest of the class if they had anything else they would like to share with the class.
- The instructor or students review the outcomes of the activity and post a response.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
In Introduction to Physical Anthropology, students do a considerable amount of work discussing concepts. To aid in this work, the professor wants to structure thoughtful reflection and sharing of ideas in the Active Learning Classroom. On Thursdays each week, she posts four questions online that require students to understand and apply concepts from online readings and videos that will prepare them for the next week's in-class activities. Before the class meets on Monday, students must create a response to the questions. At their tables, students create pairs and share their responses. After the individual sharing is complete, students participate in a table-wide discussion where they compare and contrast their responses. They craft a group response and submit it to the instructor (Modified from Barkley 155).
In Introduction to Chemistry, the professor noticed halfway through the semester that students' attention started to wander as they participate in discussions. He has tried walking around the room to keep students focused, but things aren't getting better. He decided to use a Think-Pair-Share activity to focus their attention during the discussion. In class, he asked students a question about the content they were to have read before class. At their tables, students are asked to share their responses with the person on their left. Each pair is asked to reflect on their partner's response. The table then participants in a conversation where each pair reports the results of their discussion. If students answered incorrectly, the table works together to identify the problem (Modified from Barkley 155).
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 153-158.