Adult Learners: Reflections on the Jigsaw Method

Over at the TCEA TechNotes blog, my entry on the jigsaw method came out early this morning, as you can see below:

Someone left a comment (yay!) and asked some really interesting questions. While I posted my response in the Comments over at TCEA, I didn't care for the formatting changes. I'm going to post my full response below. You may want to read the original blog entry, then Derek's comment below as well as my response which follows.

Derek's Comment

Hi Miguel, thank you for this thoughtful look inside your efforts to facilitate adult learning! It’s really thought provoking. 
My main comment in response is to wonder about how teachers of children can transfer their knowledge and skills to teach adults. There’s lots of overlap (e.g., classroom management, questioning skills, lesson design thinking, balancing between content-area expert and facilitator of others’ learning) for sure that provides value to adult learning sessions. 
Hattie’s work was a meta-analysis of K-12 research, though, and so I am wondering: what might be the effect size might be for jigsaw with adult learners? And how vital to adult learning might be these three phases? Might adult learners be better equipped to produce the same meta-cognition through self-reflection in their Home groups rather than return a second time to Expert groups? 
The research might be out there about Jigsaw with adults, and I’d be curious to know how/if these structures matter with adult learners.

Do you have a response for Derek? I would love to have you post it over at the TCEA TechNotes blog. In the meantime, here's my "better formatted" response.

Miguel's Response

Derek, howdy! Thanks for your comment. Great question. Let me give it back to you to make sure I got it? I've taken the liberty of dividing up my response to correspond (as best I can determine it) to the questions you ask. Those questions are:
  1. Can classroom teachers transfer what they do to work with adult learners?
  2. How effective are Hattie's strategies for adult learners, not K-12 where his meta-analyses were focused?
  3. How effective is the jigsaw method with adult learners?
  4. How better-equipped are adults with meta-cognition through self-reflection in their home groups?
You've asked some great questions and I'll do my best to respond, even when I may not know what the heck I'm talking about.


1-Andragogy and Adult Learners​

You're asking, "How can teachers working primarily with children transfer their knowledge and skills to teach adults?" In a lot of ways, this makes me think of educators who have been classroom teachers stepping into coaching roles. In their new role, they have to facilitate professional development. Would the strategies they have developed for use with students transfer to their work with adults?

As someone who went through that transition, my response is, "Yes, it's definitely possible." Of course, there has to be consideration given for andragogy and all that comes with that. 

Learn more from Dr. Cynthia Pina's dissertation. She discusses key elements of andragogy in her dissertation, "Changing Perceptions about Professional Development: An Action Research Study Using Andragogy for Educators' Professional Development."

2-Applying Hattie's Research Meta-Analyses to Adult Learners​

In regards to Hattie's work, I'm not sure I agree with your point that it was a meta-analysis of K-12 research alone. In fact, he cites a few studies that are from beyond K-12. In fact, Hattie says this himself:
"Although it is the case that most are derived from the K-12 sector, there are still many from the postsecondary sector, and the argument of this article is that the underlying messages underlying successful innovations are quite similar across the sectors" 
Source: Read Hattie's article
So, it may be safe to say that Hattie put out a wide net that didn't limit his research to K-12 only. This, in fact, has resulted in some of the criticism he's faced. At which point, I like to look at the research studies using Visible Learning's Meta X database and read the studies themselves. You can "google" anything these days, including copies of the actual studies. 

To be honest, I have managed to find every study I have gone after. Whether it makes sense or not, well, to apply it to K-12, that's the argument of effect sizes and category errors that others more familiar with research methodologies than I have examined.

3-Effect of Jigsaw Approach's Three Phases on Adult Learners​

The Jigsaw approach has a significant effect size. Jigsaw method (read more) has a lot of proponents and research to support it. When looking at various strategies that work, a question to ask is, "Would this work with adult learners?" The answer for me, based on my own observation, was, "Yes, it appeared to and didn't seem to impede knowledge acquisition." A quick search online for research on the use of the jigsaw approach with adult learners seems to suggest this:
You may want to look for some more info on the impact, but I suspect that as Hattie says above, this strategy works.

4-Social Metacognition and Jigsaw​

"Social metacognition distributes metacognitive responsibilities across group members, makes metacognition visible to facilitate learning, and improves individual cognitive processes" says this research study on the subject. I imagine that jigsaw's approach where participants go back to the expert groups to share their homegroup's reflections falls into this category of "social metacognition."

Your question, whether you can get the same results via self-reflection as what jigsaw participants do when they do their final return to expert groups, well, I'm not sure. That might make for an interesting action research study. Benefits may vary with how familiar adults are with meta-cognition, jigsaw, and the quality of relationships in the group. Relationships are improved among K-12 students jigsaw homegroup, so we may see similar effects for adults. More study is needed.

Thanks for such great questions, Derek!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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