What is The Think Pair Share Strategy?

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In today’s post, I discuss a key teaching and learning strategy known as Think-Pair-Share (TPS). More specifically, I will cover what recent research says about the effectiveness and use of TPS, delve into the key advantages of using this strategy in classroom teaching, and provide tips to help teachers seamlessly integrate TPS into their daily teaching routines.

To conclude, I’ll showcase practical examples across various subjects to demonstrate how this strategy can be applied effectively in diverse educational settings. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or new to the profession, this post aims to enrich your teaching toolkit with insights and actionable steps for implementing Think-Pair-Share.

For those of you interested in learning more about the research-based underpinnings of the Think-Pair-Share strategy, I invite you to check the references at the bottom of this post. These resources provide deeper insights and further details that can help enrich your understanding and application of this effective teaching method.

What Is The Think Pair Share Strategy?

The Think-Pair-Share strategy is a popular collaborative learning method, which was introduced by Professor Frank Lyman at the University of Maryland in 1981 (Kaddoura, 2013). This technique unfolds in three key stages:

  1. Think: In this initial phase, students are presented with a question, prompt, or observation by the teacher. They are given a few minutes to quietly reflect on the topic and formulate their own thoughts and responses independently.
  2. Pair: Next, students team up with a partner or a nearby classmate to discuss their individual thoughts. This stage allows them to exchange ideas, compare notes, and decide together which responses are the strongest, most persuasive, or most unique.
  3. Share: Finally, pairs are invited to share their insights with the entire class. This sharing can take the form of presenting their agreed-upon answers or simply discussing the variety of ideas that emerged during their pair discussions.

Think Pair Share

Think-Pair-Share: Insights from Recent Research

Research on the Think-Pair-Share (TPS) strategy continues to validate its effectiveness and adaptability in educational settings. According to Kaddoura (2007), TPS significantly enhances critical thinking (CT) skills along with analytical abilities like argumentation, prioritization, problem-solving, and resolution.

This aligns with earlier findings by authors like Robertson (2006) and Ledlow (2001), who advocate for TPS as an active and engaging pedagogical tool that facilitates deeper learning through cooperative interaction. These studies suggest that the structured phases of TPS encourage comprehensive thinking and interaction, which are essential for developing higher-level cognitive skills.

However, the research by Copper et al. (2021) introduces a critical examination of the ‘share’ component of TPS, revealing potential drawbacks such as inequities in student participation and heightened anxiety among students when sharing in front of large groups. Their findings underscore the necessity to reassess this phase, suggesting modifications or even elimination in certain contexts to better serve all students’ needs and minimize classroom anxieties. This perspective is crucial as it highlights the evolving understanding of how traditional methods need adaptation to ensure inclusivity and effectiveness in diverse educational settings.

While fundamentally robust, the strategy’s application and execution may require careful consideration and adjustment to address the unique challenges of contemporary classrooms. This ongoing dialogue between embracing proven methods and adapting to new educational landscapes ensures that teaching strategies like TPS remain relevant and effective in fostering not just academic skills but also a supportive and equitable learning environment.

Related: What is Andragogy?

Key Advantages of Think-Pair-Share in Classroom Teaching

Here is a short summary of the main advantages of the Think-Pair-Share (TPS) strategy, as backed by research. These benefits illustrate how TPS can effectively enhance both individual and collaborative learning experiences in educational settings:

  • Enhances Critical Thinking: TPS encourages students to think critically about problems or questions, fostering deeper understanding (Kaddoura, 2007).
  • Improves Analytical Skills: Helps develop skills in analysis, argumentation, prioritization, problem-solving, and resolution (Kaddoura, 2007).
  • Promotes Active Learning: Engages students actively in their learning process, making the classroom environment more dynamic and interactive (Robertson, 2006; Ledlow, 2001).
  • Facilitates Peer Learning: Encourages students to discuss and share ideas with peers, enhancing collaborative learning (Robertson, 2006).
  • Supports Equitable Participation: Provides a structured format for all students to contribute, potentially reducing barriers to participation (Copper et al., 2021).
  • Reduces Anxiety: By sharing in pairs before addressing the whole class, students may feel less anxious and more confident in presenting their ideas (Copper et al., 2021).
  • Adaptable to Various Contexts: Can be modified to fit different classroom sizes and settings, ensuring its effectiveness across diverse learning environments (Copper et al., 2021).

Think Pair Share

Tips for Implementing Think-Pair-Share in the Classroom

Integrating the Think-Pair-Share (TPS) strategy into classroom teaching can significantly enhance student engagement and learning. Here are a few practical tips, according to Read Write Think, to help teachers effectively apply this strategy:

  1. Set Clear Objectives: Before implementing TPS, clearly define what you aim to achieve with the lesson. Whether it’s introducing a new concept or reviewing existing knowledge, having a specific target helps in structuring the TPS session effectively.
  2. Explain the Strategy: Describe the TPS process to students and explain its purpose. This helps students understand why they are participating in the activity and what is expected of them.
  3. Model the Process: Demonstrate the TPS steps with the help of a student or a group of students. This modeling shows students exactly how to engage in each phase of the strategy.
  4. Guide the ‘Think’ Stage: Pose a thought-provoking question or problem related to the lesson and give students a few minutes to think independently. This stage is crucial for students to formulate their own ideas.
  5. Facilitate Effective Pairing: Pair students thoughtfully, considering their reading and language skills, attention span, and interpersonal dynamics. You can choose to assign pairs or allow students to select their partners, depending on the objectives and nature of the activity.
  6. Monitor and Support: While students are discussing in pairs, circulate around the room to listen in and provide guidance where necessary. This not only helps in assessing their understanding but also in addressing any misconceptions immediately.
  7. Encourage Inclusive Sharing: Transition from pair discussions to a whole-class sharing session. Ensure that each pair has an opportunity to share their ideas with the class. This can broaden the discussion and incorporate multiple perspectives.
  8. Reflect and Reassess: After the sharing phase, encourage pairs to reconvene and discuss how their views might have changed based on the class discussion. This reflection helps deepen their understanding and appreciation of different viewpoints.

Think Pair Share

Think Pair Share Activities

In this section, I provide some practical examples to demonstrate how teachers can effectively incorporate the Think-Pair-Share strategy across various subjects. These examples illustrate the versatility of this method in fostering critical thinking and collaborative learning, enhancing student engagement and understanding in diverse educational contexts.

1. Social Studies:

Example: When discussing civil rights movements, ask students to think about why these movements emerged when they did. Students then pair up to discuss the socio-political factors of the time and share their conclusions with the class.

2. Language Learning:

Example: For a foreign language class, present a colloquial phrase or idiom. Have students think about possible meanings individually, then pair up to discuss and finally share their interpretations and correct usage with the class.

3. Math

Example: Introduce a new algebraic concept like quadratic equations. Students first solve a related problem individually, discuss their solving strategies with a partner, and share their approaches and solutions with the class.

4. Science

Example: In a biology lesson on ecosystems, ask students to think about the role of decomposers. Pairs discuss how ecosystems might change without decomposers and share their ideas during a class discussion.

5. Reading

Example: After reading a chapter of a novel, ask students to think about the motivations of a key character. They discuss their thoughts with a peer and share their interpretations with the class, enhancing understanding through collective insight.

Final thoughts

In this post, I talked about the Think-Pair-Share strategy, a powerful tool in the arsenal of educational techniques that promotes active learning and collaborative thinking. I also delved into the research supporting this method, outlined its key benefits, offered practical tips for integration, and provided specific examples of how it can be applied across different subjects. I hope you found this discussion enlightening and that it inspires you to incorporate Think-Pair-Share into your teaching practice.

Related: What is Total Physical Response?

References

  • Cooper, K. M., Schinske, J. N., & Tanner, K. D. (2021). Reconsidering the Share of a Think-Pair-Share: Emerging Limitations, Alternatives, and Opportunities for Research. CBE life sciences education20(1), fe1. https://doi-org.ezproxy.msvu.ca/10.1187/cbe.20-08-0200
  • Guenther, A. R., & Abbott, C. M. (2024). Think-Pair-Share: Promoting Equitable Participation and In-Depth Discussion. PRiMER (Leawood, Kan.)8, 7. https://doi.org/10.22454/PRiMER.2024.444143
  • Mundelsee, P., & Jurkowski, S. (2021). Learning and Individual Differences. Think and pair before share: Effects of collaboration on students’ in-class participation, 88, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2021.102015
  • Kaddoura, M. (2013). Think Pair Share: A teaching Learning Strategy to Enhance Students’ Critical Thinking. Educational Research Quarterly, 36(4), 3. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1061947

Further Readings

  • Gilles, R.M. (2008). The effects of cooperative learning on junior high school students’ behaviors, discourse and learning during a science-based learning activity. School
    Psychology International, 29(3), 328-347
  • Ledlow, S. (2001). Using Think-Pair-Share in the college classroom. Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence, Arizona State University.
  • Lyman, F. T. (1981). The responsive classroom discussion: The inclusion of all students. Mainstreaming Digest109, 113.
  • Marzano, R.J. & Pickering, D.J. (2005). Building academic vocabulary. VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Deve
  • Nagel. P. (2008). Moving beyond lecture: Cooperative learning and the secondary social studies classroom. Education Chula Vista, 128,(3), 363-368,
  • Tanner, K. D. (2009). Talking to learn: Why biology students should be talking in classrooms and how to make it happen. CBE—Life Sciences Education8(2), 89–94.

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