Think 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.
- Give Students a key/ meaningful question/ problem related to/ applying the content
- THINK –
Have students individually reflect and write down their response
- PAIR –
After adequate amount of time, have students then PAIR up (or groups)
- SHARE –
Give students a time limit to have students share and synthesize responses
- 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.
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)
- Carleton Think-Pair-Share Resource Site
- Cult of Pedagogy: In Praise of Think pair Share Tips