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Think-Pair-Share - active learning technique

Last updated on 6 April 2023
Would you like to get students to collaborate and take responsibility during meetings? Then you should definitely try the Think-Pair-Share method! Think-Pair-Share is an active learning method in which students think about a problem in three steps during five to ten minutes.

Think-Pair-Share — what is it?

  • The Think-Pair-Share technique is well-suited for getting students to think intensively about a central or difficult concept from the material or a controversial or difficult question from a test.
  • Type: short-term group assignment.
  • Suitable for large lectures, but also small work groups.
  • Time spent during a teaching session: five to fifteen minutes.
  • Group size: two.
  • Preparation time: less than half an hour.

Getting started

  1. Start. Introduce the assignment and indicate what you expect from the students and how long they have to do it. Tell them that afterwards they will share their results with the other students.
  2. Divide the students into groups of two. The easiest way is to let them talk directly to their neighbour. But occasionally you may want the students to exchange ideas with other people as well. A simple technique to ensure that students do not always work with the same group members is to number the students and then ask them to form a group with the same numbers. Are the students still a little insecure or do they not feel safe? Then pay attention to that first. See for example this teaching tip.
  3. Thinking phase. The students work independently and concretely on their thoughts and arguments and can write these down. Take three to four minutes for this. Give a clear signal that students can proceed to the next phase.
  4. Pair phase. Students discuss their answer with a fellow student. Take about five minutes for this as well.
  5. Sub-phase (Share). Ask all students for their answers and engage them in a wider discussion that includes the different perspectives. Allow about five minutes for this as well.
  6. Finish in a positive atmosphere, see this tip.

Mentimeter can be useful in the subdivision phase to quickly centralise all, /opinions/ and observations and share them centrally.

A more elaborate form of the Think-Pair-Share technique is the Peer Instruction technique, where students give their answer halfway through the assignments. You can decide whether they have already acquired sufficient knowledge or that another round is necessary.

Want to know more? Have a look at the following resources