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Facilitating Think/Pair/Share active learning activities in a classroom
Time and effort
Instructor Prep Time Low
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Low
Complexity of Activity Low


Think/Pair/Share poses a question, asks students to reflect on the question, and has them share their ideas with others. Think has students reflect on their responses to the question before speaking to organize their thoughts. Pair and Share ask students to compare and contrast their thoughts with a small group (often a single partner) and rehearse their responses before sharing with a larger group or whole class.


Use it when you want...

  • To create an opportunity for students to listen to and practice comments with a peer,
  • To increase students’ willingness and readiness to speak in a larger group,
  • To improve the quality of students’ contributions, or
  • To engage students in a warm-up activity before a whole-class discussion.

What students will need

  • There are no special requirements for this approach.


The following workflow is meant to guide you on how you can facilitate a Think/Pair/Share active learning activity within a classroom.


  • Identify an engaging question or problem that has many potential responses. Try responding to the question yourself.
  • Decide how you will present the question (e.g., verbally, on a worksheet, on a presentation slide, or on a whiteboard) and how or if students will report the results to the whole class.


  • The instructor poses the question to the class, giving students time to think and often write about the question and devise individual responses.
  • Student A is asked to share his/her responses with Student B. Student B shares his/her ideas with Student A. If the two students disagree, they clarify their positions so they are ready to explain their differences.
  • In some cases, each pair of students creates a joint response by building on each other’s ideas.
  • The instructor reviews and synthesizes the results — drawing conclusions from the activity or using results to guide another activity in response.


  • The instructor or students review the outcomes of the activity and post a response.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documents

  • None

Video Examples

  • None


Example 1

In Introduction to Physical Anthropology, students do considerable work online. To aid in this work, the professor organized students into pairs and then quads at the beginning of the semester. On Thursdays each week, she posted four questions online that required students to understand and apply concepts from online readings and videos that would prepare them for the next week's in-class activities. Before the class met on Monday, partners worked together to create a joint response to the questions. They then shared their responses in an online discussion forum, where the quad would discuss, compare, and contrast their responses. On Monday morning, the professor reviewed the posts and evaluated students' understanding of the content. This informed the focus of the lecture that day (Barkley 155).

Example 2

Introduction to Chemistry is a large-lecture course, and the professor regularly lectured to a large audience of students. He noticed halfway through the semester that students' attention started to wander. The students diverted eye contact and started shuffling, and he could see them check the clock. He used a Think-Pair-Share activity to focus their attention during the lecture. He developed a 20-minute lecture and then asked students a question about the content. He gave them a minute to reflect and then had them answer the question. The results were reviewed. If students answered incorrectly, students worked in pairs to explain their answers. They would vote again and see if, in that process, they came to the correct answer (Barkley 155).


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 153-158.

Keywordsactive learning, think/pair/share, classroom, activities discussDoc ID103870
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-10 12:59:46Updated2024-04-16 15:39:33
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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