think-pair-shareThink Pair Share can be a low/ No Prep Active Learning activity that offers structured interaction around a key question or problem applying the material. The activity progresses the class from the best individual thinking/ understanding to best thinking/understanding of pairs (or small groups) to Whole class’ best thinking/ understanding. You can then offer targeted clarification interventions to resolve/ clarify and or transition.

  1. Give Students a key/ meaningful question/ problem related to/ applying the content 
  2. THINK
    Have students individually reflect and write down their response
  3. PAIR
    After adequate amount of time, have students then PAIR up (or groups)
  4. SHARE
    Give students a time limit to have students share and synthesize responses
  5. Cold call or randomly select pairs/ groups to report out/ discuss  

How can it help Student Success/Retention?

  • Encourage Student-Student Interaction
    Students will have to engage with a classmate around the task which can build rapport/ dialog for future interactions and class community building.
  • Encourage Active Learning
    Students have to actively test and refine their understanding around a key problem or issue at multiple levels throughout the activity with the faculty member facilitating versus spoon feeding.
  • Emphasize Time on Task
    The structure of the activity will require clear time limits being enforced to focus students on the THINK & PAIR phases. This can build awareness and emphasize time usage for making work products & task.
  • Respect Diverse Talents/ Ways of Learning
    Students who are more introverted have opportunity to reflect and write ideas and then ease into sharing with only 1 other classmate which can be less intimidating. Extroverts can still connect/ interact in the Pair and Class stage, but are invited into discussion vs remaining silent for lecture mode.

Important Notes:

Open-Ended Questions Or Problems Will Allow for More Discussion and Higher Order Thinking
A closed-ended Recall only question such as “What is 2+2?” Will not offer much to chew on for discussion or application. However, a more open-ended prompt with multiple potential answers such as “What might be the best bridge design for this river?”

Explain to students -WHY- You are Using the Technique  
“Tell students about the benefits of the strategy; You’ll get more buy-in & better participation.” (Cult of Pedgaogy)

Engagement Supports Key 
Getting students engaged with the activity is key to impact of it. Offering sticks/ carrots to promote engagement with the activity can be helpful. Specific Supports/ Ideas:
>> Collect the individual and or pair responses afterwards and assign a few participation points to them. (Carleton)
>> ‘Cold call’ pairs to report out their collective thinking/ response
[Can use a fun transparent randomizer like Random Name Picker . or www.wheeldecide.com . or  a pair of dice etc. to select which pairs share responses]
>> “Put the Think-Pair-Share question on the exams & make it clear to students this will be the case” (Carleton)

During the Pairs discussions, “Instead of checking e-mail or tuning out, circulate and listen to student discussions. You’ll get valuable information about student understanding and keep them on task.” (Cult of Pedagogy)


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