Using Jigsaws Decreases Prejudice

I’ve been reading Robert Cialdini’s Influence for the past couple weeks which is about how we are designed to comply with certain requests.  I read this tonight and am blown away and had to blog to think through this:

Studies have shown that, compared to other classrooms in the same school using the traditional competitive method, jigsaw learning stimulated significantly more friendship and less prejudice between ethnic groups. Besides this vital reduction in hostility, there were other advantages: Self-esteem, liking for school, and test scores improved for minority students. And the white students benefited, too. Their self-esteem and liking for school went up, and their test performance was at least as high as that of whites in the traditional classes.

Cialdini PhD, Robert B. (2009-05-28). Influence (Kindle Locations 2955-2958). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. [emphasis mine]

I’m blown away by the consequences of this study he summarizes way too briefly.  I can decrease hostility by having students  get information from one another through the jigsaw method (where each person in a group is responsible for a different part of a passage or problem).  WHAT!?!?! Oh, and test scores will increase for everyone?!?!

This to me asks so many questions:
+ Is it any cooperative group work where you have to get information from “teammates” that would have this outcome? What other kinds of assignments could add onto this impact?
+ Why haven’t I been told this before when I’ve been introduced to the method many, many times?
+ Could jigsawing reduce fighting between students (or even groups of students like gangs) at school? Or, if not reduce fighting at least promote cooperation in classrooms?
+ What impact could a dedication to this one cooperative learning strategy have on my school?
+ Are there great examples of jigsawing in math classrooms out there?  I can think of some ideas (different problems or parts of problems in each group or possibly reading a text/problem).

I’ll definitely be spending some time jigsawing all year because there look to be huge benefits.  We’ll see what happens!

Aside: Cialdini cites the study and another study on group behavior in this part of the text.  I can find the reference for you if you’d like – its a little hard on the kindle.


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