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UsingThink/Pair/Share activity to facilitate discussion in an online course
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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 response to the question before speaking so as 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 increases 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
- Laptop, tablet, mobile phone
- Resources for student access to computers
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Think/Pair/Share active learning activity within an online learning environment.
- 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).
- Identify how students will form pairs and report results out to the class.
- Create the Zoom session in which the activity will take place.
- The instructor students to enter the Zoom session at the specified class meeting time.
- The instructor poses the question to the class and gives students time to think and often write about the question and devise individual responses.
- The instructor directs students to pair up in a breakout room and identifies the amount of time they have to work (ex. five minutes). The easiest way to do this is to use the Random Assign feature. Identify the number of groups you want and it automatically populates students into them.
- In the breakout room, 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.
- After the allotted time, end the breakout rooms and have students return to the main session room.
- Have students share responses in larger class discussions. Have students use the Raise Hand feature to participate.
- 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 Other Considerations
- Be aware that some students might not have the bandwidth to participate in synchronous sessions. Make sure students turn off their cameras to reduce bandwidth. Students can also use the dial-in phone connection for audio, instead of their network connection.
- The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 153-158.