Fifth Class have been studying Martin Luther King. Our approach was cross-curricular, including subjects such as History, SPHE, Global Citizenship Education and Art.
Group work is a strategy regularly employed in our school. We completed all our learning on the topic through collaborative group work activities. Badache (2011) believes that the use of group work as a teaching and learning methodology is of great benefit to all students. The benefits include raising achievement of all students, helping to build positive relationships among students and as a result creating a learning community where diversity is valued. It also gives the students the experiences they need for healthy social, psychological and cognitive development (Johnson et al. 1994). For group work to be successful for all, it is important to teach the social skills required to work cooperatively, as this isn’t something that is inherently known (Johnson and Johnson 1990). The aforementioned authors elaborate on social skills that can be developed through group work: using indoor voices, giving and taking direction, making eye contact, taking turns, encouraging participation, giving constructive rather than destructive feedback, conflict management, communication, asking questions, time management, commenting on others contributions and requesting further rationale.
Using the Jigsaw Group Work Strategy, we focused on our learning but also on the development of these social skills.
Cooperative learning creates opportunities for each student, regardless of academic ability, to work together in the same learning environment while being sensitive to each other’s needs (Jainal and Shahrill 2021). The ‘Jigsaw Strategy’ is a cooperative learning strategy. Adams (2013) explains that the jigsaw strategy was created by social psychologist Elliot Aronson in 1971. Students in a classroom are divided into home groups of four to six students. Individual members of each group then break off to work with the “experts” from other groups, researching a part of the material being studied, after which they return to their starting group in the role of instructor for their sub-category.
We carried out some research at the project’s conclusion and Fifth found this focus on social skills very beneficial. Results also show how the class enjoyed this approach to group work.
Please read on to view some photos that show the fantastic work Fifth Class created when studying Martin Luther King.
Adams, F. H. (2013) “Using Jigsaw Technique as an Effective Way of Promoting Co-Operative Learning Among Primary Six Students in Fiji”, International Journal of Education and Practice, 1(6), pp. 64–74. doi: 10.18488/journal.61/2013.1.6/18.104.22.168.
Badache, L. (2011) The benefits of group work. The Social Science and Human Journal. https://www.asjp.cerist.dz/en/downArticle/97/12/24/34608
Jainal, N. H. and Shahrill, M. (2021) Incorporating Jigsaw strategy to support students’ learning through action research. International Journal on Social and Education Sciences (IJonSES), 3(2), 252-266. https://doi.org/10.46328/ijonses.75
Johnson, R.T., Johnson, D.W. & Holubec, E.J. (1994) The Nuts and Bolts of Cooperative Learning, Interaction Book Company, Minnesota.
Johnson, D. and Johnson, R. (1990) Social Skills for Successful Group Work. Educational Leadership. 47. Pp 29-33