DoingCL - Think-Pair-Share






Think-pair-share was first proposed by Lyman (1981). This is a relatively low-risk and short collaborative learning structure, and is ideally suited for instructors and students who are new to collaborative learning.

In think-pair-share, the instructor poses a challenging or open-ended question and gives students a half to one minute to think about the question. (This is important because it gives students a chance to start to formulate answers by retrieving information from long-term memory.) Students then pair with a collaborative group member or neighbor sitting nearby and discuss their ideas about the question for several minutes. (The instructor may wish to always have students pair with a non-collaborative group member to expose them to more learning styles.) The think-pair-share structure gives all students the opportunity to discuss their ideas. This is important because students start to construct their knowledge in these discussions and also to find out what they do and do not know. This active process is not normally available to them during traditional lectures.

After several minutes the instructor solicits student comments or takes a classroom "vote." Students are much more willing to respond after they have had a chance to discuss their ideas with a classmate because if the answer is wrong, the embarrassment is shared. Also, the responses received are often more intellectually concise since students have had a chance to reflect on their ideas. The think-pair-share structure also enhances the student's oral communication skills as they discuss their ideas with the one another. This short "intermission" can also provide the instructor a timely opportunity to mentally go over the next concept to be discussed.

One variation of this structure is to skip the whole-class discussion. Another variation is to have students write down their thoughts on notecards and collect them. This gives the instructor an opportunity to see whether there are problems in comprehension.

Lymna, F. (1981). "The responsive classroom discussion." In Anderson, A. S. (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest, College Park, MD: University of Maryland College of Education.

Millis, B. J., and Cottell, P. G., Jr. (1998). Cooperative learning for higher education faculty, American Council on Education, Series on Higher Education. The Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ.

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