Topics Map > Instructional Technology > Zoom
Topics Map > Active Learning > Online
Topics Map > Active Learning > Discussions

Think/Pair/Share (online)

UsingThink/Pair/Share activity to facilitate discussion in an online course
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 them 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


The following workflow is meant to guide how to facilitate a Think/Pair/Share active learning activity within an online learning environment.


  • 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, presentation slide, or a whiteboard).
  • Identify how students will form pairs and report results to the class.
  • Create the Zoom session in which the activity will take place.

Online (Synchronous)

  • The instructor asks students to enter the Zoom session during the class meeting.
  • The instructor poses the question to the class, gives students time to think, and often writes about the question and devises individual responses.
  • The instructor directs students to pair up in a breakout room and identifies their work time (e.g., five minutes). The easiest way to do this is to use the Random Assign feature. Identify the number of groups you want, and it automatically populates students into them.
  • In the breakout room, 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.
  • After the allotted time, end the breakout rooms and have students return to the main session room.
  • Have students share responses in larger class discussions. Have students use the Raise Hand feature to participate.
  • 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 Other Considerations

  • Some students might not have the network bandwidth to participate in synchronous sessions. Please make sure students turn off their cameras to reduce bandwidth. Students can also use the dial-in phone connection for audio instead of their network connection.
  • The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.

Technical Documents

Video Examples


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

Keywordsthink pair share, OnlineDoc ID104401
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-27 15:21:52Updated2024-04-16 15:48:18
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Feedback  0   0