Faculty today

Strategy bites: think-pair-share


At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

 Strategy: Think-Pair-Share 

Allow students some thinking and discussion time before calling on them to respond to questions.

 Why use this strategy?

I’m a student with an introverted personality type, so being called on by instructors to answer questions in front of the whole class was quite daunting. Usually, I would sit there with an answer on the tip of my tongue, too shy to share it. I let the more confident students speak up. This often led to the same students answering and asking questions lecture after lecture. How might this scenario be changed so that more students engage with you and each other in the classroom?

The think-pair-share teaching strategy is an effective way to involve more students in class discussion and give the quieter students a voice. The strategy involves posing a critical question to your class and having them take a moment to think about it—and maybe even write down their thoughts. They are then asked to pair up with a neighbour (or two) to share their ideas. Finally, students are asked to share their responses with the whole class.

This strategy—which works in large and small classes—gives students the opportunity to prepare their thoughts before speaking in front of the whole class. If you have students prepare a short written response, they may feel even more confident when speaking to the whole class. Furthermore, and what I feel to be most valuable, this strategy enables the quieter, more introverted students, like me, to share their thoughts with the rest of the class and contribute to collective learning in a far less intimidating way. After all, there is much to be gained when all students contribute in the classroom.

 Would you like to know more?

Ideas for having students participate in class discussion

  • Students might not participate in class discussions for a number of reasons. Awareness of these different reasons may influence your teaching strategies. Read more.

Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:

How do you get students to participate in class discussions? Share your ideas!

Jasmine Parent is an M. Sc. graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGillUniversity. She is currently enrolled in the M. Ed. Technology Program at the University of British Columbia and works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga, and spending time in nature. 

Featured Image photo credit: Victor Tangerman

 

Jasmine Parent is an M.Sc. Graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGill. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Education Technology Program at UBC and she works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at TLS. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga and spending time in nature.

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