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Diversity in STEM

Help Your Students “Think-Pair-Share” to Boost Classroom Collaboration

In a classroom environment, some of the most important learning opportunities are those that allow children to collaborate with others who are different from them. With differences ranging from cultural backgrounds to personality types, no two students are the same, and when it comes to group projects, often it’s the combination of students’ varied experiences and perspectives that produce the greatest and most effective results.

Of course, this sounds great in theory, but as educators know, collaboration does not always come easy – especially for younger students who are still learning how to respect the differences of their classmates. The challenge becomes even greater when students are not naturally interested in the topic or problem that has been introduced.

In 1982, Frank Lyman, a renowned educator from the University of Maryland, proposed a collaborative teaching strategy designed to solve some of these challenges. He called it the Think-Pair-Share strategy, or TPS. Not only is preparation for this teamwork technique relatively straightforward, but since its introduction, “implementation has shown success by increasing student engagement, and improving student learning outcomes across learning environments.”

Read below to learn how in just a few steps you can implement TPS in your classroom to support collaboration among all your students!

  • Step 1: Pose an open-ended question that aligns with an instructional goal, and then challenge your students to record their answers and ideas on a piece of paper.
  • Step 2: Ask each student to turn to the person next to them (this works best in groups no larger than three) and share their thoughts, processes or answers with one another.
  • Step 3: During this process, remind students how they should be spending the time interacting with each other. Make sure each member of a group interacts with the others. Keep an eye on the clock and let students know when the allotted time for sharing their ideas is almost up.
  • Step 4: Prompt students to report some of the answers and ideas discussed in their group. Encourage them to share both the agreements and disagreements they had during their time together.

One of the key benefits of TPS is that it can be customized to fit the unique needs of your students. To foster greater communication and collaboration, and to cultivate a learning environment where students know their efforts and ideas are valued, try adapting the above steps to fit your classroom’s needs and goals!


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