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Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving (classroom)
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Facilitating a Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving active learning activity in a classroom
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||Medium|
|Student Activity Time||Low|
|Instructor Response Time||Medium|
|Complexity of Activity||Medium|
Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving has student pairs receive a series of problems and are assigned specific roles that change with each question. The problem-solver thinks aloud about his/her problem-solving process. The partner listens, tries to understand the reasoning behind the steps, and offers suggestions if there are missteps.|
Use it when you want...
- Students to articulate their problem-solving process and listen to another’s process,
- To increase students’ awareness of the range of problem-solving approaches, or
- To improve students' analytical skills by helping them formulate ideas, understand the sequence of steps underlying their thinking, and identify errors in another's reasoning.
What students will need
- No special requirements for this approach.
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Think-Aloud Pair Problem-Solving learning activity within a classroom.
- Develop a set of field-related problems that students can solve within a limited time frame. The topic should engage students in all stages of problem-solving skills: identifying the nature of a problem, analyzing the knowledge and skills required to reach a solution, identifying potential solutions, choosing the best solution, and evaluating outcomes.
- Ask students to form pairs.
- Explain to them the roles of problem-solver and listener. Problem-solvers read the problem aloud and talk through the reasoning process in attempting to solve the problem. Listeners encourage the problem-solver to think aloud, ask clarification questions, offer suggestions, but refrain from solving the problem.
- Ask students to solve a set of problems, alternating roles with each new problem.
- End the activity when students have solved all problems.
- Review the students’ solutions to the problems they studied.
- Review the outcomes of the activity.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- The wearing of masks by students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak. All classrooms that are large enough to normally require a microphone already have a microphone system with a communal clip-on pickup element. Further information about the availability of additional clip-on or headset microphone elements will be coming soon. View the instructions and short videos below to assist with the use of the microphones and the portable systems:
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 226-231.