Theorising ‘Jigsaws‘: Investigating the Transferable Elements of a Problem-Solving Approach to Teaching and Learning

By Robert Toynton.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

An approach to teaching and learning (the ‘jigsaw‘ approach), initially developed for adult learners, employing incidental learning and tacit knowledge to both encourage learning and, through learner-ownership, to increase confidence in that learning, is described. Incorporating group-work and problem solving, and the recognition, emplacement and evocation of tacit knowledge, further encouraged by providing environments in which incidental learning is encouraged, the approach has proven popular and effective with uncertificated adult classes, learning in community settings and undergraduate students within the university. Originally developed in an introductory course in a science discipline, the experience of designing and presenting such courses, in the classroom and online, and of recording learner reactions, has enabled key transferable elements of the approach to be incorporated into other teaching. The method is summarised, its effectiveness and the reaction of learners reported, and the underlying approach theorised. The tensions within the approach and its applicability to mixed-ability and groups with varied prior knowledge, as well as its application across other discipline areas are also discussed.

Keywords: Problem-Solving, Incidental Learning, Tacit Knowledge, Confidence, Mixed-Ability

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp.59-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 556.965KB).

Dr Robert Toynton

Director of Part-time Studies, The Institute for Lifelong Learning, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK


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