Jigsaw Discussion of Texts

The Jigsaw Discussion method allows all members of a group to get up to steam on issues raised by a set of readings without everyone having read every reading (or document) in depth. If there are R readings and N people in the whole group, each reading should be assigned to X = N/R people to read it in depth. (The activity works better, of course, if people read more than the one reading assigned to them.)

Instructions to Participants


As you read, identify items to highlight when you talk with someone who has not concentrated on that reading. You want to be able to help them appreciate the significance of the case study, theory, or conclusions presented in the reading. Items to highlight may include questions or issues that you think need clarification or debate.

In the group meeting (or class)

The readings will be discussed in two steps:
1. Common discussion: In sub-groups of X people who concentrated on the same reading, discuss the article. Identify the key points and the issues you need clarified or put out for debate. Each person prepares a sheet of notes to use during step 2. (If X > 5, break into groups of 2-4 people.)

2. Cross-cutting discussion: In sub-groups of R people who read different readings, describe the key points and the issues that your common discussion sub-group wanted clarified or subject to debate.

The discussion in groups may follow the Small-Group Roles, with roles merged to match the number of people in the sub-group.

Variant of the Instructions

Choose for yourself which of the readings to read. The sub-groups for the common and cross-cutting discussions in steps 1 and 2 above may be of different size and not every reading will end up covered by every cross-cutting sub-group. If you are the only person to have concentrated on a particular reading, instead of participating in a common discussion for step 1, you form a cross-cutting discussion sub-group with any others in the same singleton boat as you.