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Facilitating Think/Pair/Share active learning activities in a classroom
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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 a 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.
- In some cases, each pair of students creates a joint response by building on each other’s ideas.
- The instructor reviews and synthesizes the results — drawing conclusions from the activity or using results to guide another activity in response.
- 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 online. To aid in this work, the professor has organized students into pairs and then quads at the beginning of the semester. 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, partners must have worked together to create a joint response to the questions. They then share their responses in an online discussion forum, where the quad discusses compares, and contrasts their responses. Monday morning, the professor reviews the posts and evaluates students' understanding of the content. This informs the focus of the lecture that day (Barkley 155).
Introduction to Chemistry is a large-lecture course, and the professor regularly lectures to a large audience of students. He noticed halfway through the semester that students' attention started to wander. The students diverted eye contact and started shuffling, and he could see them check the clock. He decided to use a Think-Pair-Share activity to focus their attention during the lecture. He developed a 20-minute lecture, then asked students a question about the content. He gave them a minute to reflect and then had them answer the question. The results were reviewed. If students answered incorrectly, students worked in pairs to explain their answers. They would vote again and see if, in that process, they came to the correct answer (Barkley 155).
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 153-158.