Jigsaw Classroom

The Jigsaw Classroom experiment, was conducted by Elliot Aronson in 1971, compared traditional competitive classroom learning with interdependent cooperative learning. The experiment, conducted in the Austin, Texas school system following desegregation, was spurred by interracial fighting between students in the schools.

The experiment involved forming learning groups (jigsaw groups) where each student relied on other students in their group to acquire information necessary to succeed on an exam. The groups were racially integrated and required cooperation between members in order to achieve academic success.

When compared to traditional classrooms where students competed individually, students in the cooperative jigsaw groups demonstrated lower discrimination, fewer stereotyped attitudes, and higher academic achievement.

The jigsaw classroom in related to the contact hypothesis, that if groups of separate in groups and out groups come together on a task their biases will disperse. These things need to be satisfied before this will work:

Equal status among members in the contact groups. Work together on a task for which all will have to come together to complete the task. Social norms support in. People in authority support it. Personal communications among the members.