HILJ Club: This edition of HILJ club has been prepared by: Eleanor Barker and Veronica Phillips Assistant Librarians, University of Cambridge Medical Library. @barker_eleanor @librarianerrant

The paper for discussion is Woods, H. B. (2019) Expediting learning through peer teaching: experiences with the Jigsaw technique Health Information & Libraries Journal, 36, pp 378-382

DOI: 10.1111/hir.12283 Available login free for 3 months


The Jigsaw method was originally designed for use in US primary schools in the 1970s. It was initially a tool to enable social cohesion and encourage students to interact with students outside their immediate social group, but has since become a tool to promote learning. The method is underpinned by the assumption that if students have to teach each other, they learn better. It is a form of flipped classroom teaching.


To use the Jigsaw method to develop different types of library training. To take a new approach to delivering training in a library context.


This article describes two different applications of the Jigsaw method. The first is “an exercise to identify useful data sources”. The second is a journal club in which the group is split into two, each reading a different piece of writing. The two groups discuss the writing, then participants are paired up with someone from the opposite group.


The feedback from students at both sessions gave positive feedback, that they enjoyed the session and that there were benefits to the active learning methodology used in the session.


The advantages of this methodology are that it allows a large amount of information to be covered in a short space of time. As it is an active methodology students are engaged with the session.

The disadvantages are that students become experts in one element and have to do additional work outside the class. It is essential to have a teacher who is confident to lead and facilitate discussions for this method to be effective.


This is a versatile and flexible teaching methodology. It gives the opportunity to encourage the students to take an active part in the training session, even if the session doesn’t involve hands-on activities such as learning how to search a database or use referencing software.

Questions for discussion

This article appeared at a very convenient time for us as we were preparing for a new training session on a subject which we had never taught in a classroom setting before. [Described below.] This is a very simple teaching method and may already be in use by some without them knowing it has a name. The sessions are not taught but facilitated by the trainer, with a focus on active and student-led learning.

What? What do you think of the research methods? Is there anything else you would have liked to have seen included in the article?

This was an interesting article. We were both well aware that teaching information literacy skills could sometimes lead to very dull sessions, particularly if the subject matter didn’t obviously link with hands-on activities or discussions. There is also a temptation to keep doing things the same way they have always been done. It is useful to discover new ways of teaching and some suggestions in the article for how this method could be applied.

We would have liked to see a more detailed analysis of the results of the author’s use of the Jigsaw method. It appears that results were based mainly on qualitative feedback taken immediately after the two training sessions, with a focus on whether participants enjoyed the sessions and found them useful. It would have been helpful if there had been some later follow up, asking the training participants how the training had been applied in the long term, and whether what they had learnt had been put to specific use with, for example, improving patient care, or in the context of their own research or studies.

So what? Does this change your view of teaching? Does it make you critically reflect on your own practice, especially when teaching?

This article has made us reconsider our teaching about how we should actively engage students on what might otherwise be very dry, passive sessions. We continually reflect on our teaching after each session, considering what worked well and what didn’t and making changes accordingly where possible.

Now what? Will you change your practice as a result of reading this article? If so how? If not, why not?

We have already used this method to teach a class of allied health professionals and nurses about the hierarchy of evidence. We were asked to deliver this session by a nurse and a dietician wanting to provide their colleagues a structured opportunity to get involved in research. The intention was to provide a series of sessions covering every stage of the research lifecycle, from coming up with a research question to searching for evidence, critical appraisal, and research dissemination through conference posters and writing for publication. One of the sessions involved introducing the students to the concept of the hierarchy of evidence, and we were aware that just talking about the different levels of evidence such as blog posts, journal articles, systematic reviews and so on could lead to a very dull session. Instead, we used the Jigsaw method. We split our attendees into groups and asked each of them to evaluate one resource, the resources being Google, NICE Evidence Search, Medline, and the Cochrane Library. They evaluated these sources according to ease of use, the kind of information found within them, and in what contexts that information might be appropriate. We were able therefore to use the Jigsaw method to make this a much more interactive session — rather than just talking them through a list of resources, they were given the opportunity to try out each resource itself and teach the other students about their strengths and weaknesses.

Please join in the discussion and let us know what you think of the article and how you have applied the method.



ARNOLD-GARZA, S. 2014. The Flipped Classroom Teaching Model and Its Use for Information Literacy Instruction. Communications in Information Literacy, 8, 7-22.

ARONSON, E. 1978. The Jigsaw Classroom. (Oxford: Sage).

EDUCAUSE. 2012. 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms [Online]. Available: https://library.educause.edu/resources/2012/2/7-things-you-should-know-about-flipped-classrooms [Accessed 17/03/2020].

PANNABECKER, V., BARROSO, C. S. & LEHMANN, J. 2014. The Flipped Classroom: Student-Driven Library Research Sessions for Nutrition Education. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 19, 139-162.