Using Think/Pair/Share technique in a large lecture class.
Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time Medium
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Low
Complexity of Activity Low
Room Considerations None


Think/Pair/Share has an instructor pose a question, ask students to reflect on the question, and have 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 the 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,
  • To develop a sense of belonging in a large lecture class or
  • To engage students in a warm-up activity before a whole-class discussion.

What students will need

  • A smartphone or laptop.


The following workflow is meant to guide how to facilitate a Think/Pair/Share learning activity within a large lecture room.


  • 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 whiteboard) and how or if students will report the results to the whole class.
  • Create an anonymous Top Hat question for students to submit their results.


  • Pose the prepared question to the class.
  • Share this activity's intended purpose and the time they will have to complete it. Remind students that this activity is ungraded but should help them apply concepts covered in the lecture.
  • Give students time to think, 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.
  • Each pair of students creates a joint response by building on each other’s ideas.
  • Students submit their shared responses via a Top Hat question.
  • The instructor reviews the results and facilitates a discussion that draws upon the conclusions from the activity.
  • Provide support for perspectives that are shared.


  • The teaching assistant reviews the outcomes of the activity and posts a response in Canvas or shares the results at the next class session.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documentation


Example 1

An Inquiry to the Natural World instructor decided to use the Think/Pair/Share technique to begin a lecture session. He felt it would help students draw on their prior knowledge, focus their attention, and maintain interest in the lecture. He started the lecture by presenting a slide with the question, "What is matter?" He asked each student to take a moment and think about their response. After a minute, he suggested students turn to their neighbors and share their responses and construct a shared response.  He took a few minutes to have a few pairs share their responses, then started his lecture, taking those responses into account (Barkley 294).

Example 2

The instructor lectured on themes such as abundance, status, royalty, and prestige in the African Art and the Diaspora course. To provide an engaging learning exercise as a break from her lectures, she used a modified form of Think/Pair/Share. She projected an image on the screen, such as a pottery bowl, and asked students to think about what the object conveyed about the lecture themes. She thus used the object as a tool to help students think about larger social and political issues. She then asked students to partner with another sitting next to them to share their ideas. Afterward, several pairs shared their thoughts with the full class; she ended the exercise with a brief discussion before her closing lecture remarks (Barkley 294).


Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2018). Interactive lecturing: A handbook for college faculty. John Wiley & Sons, 293-296.

Keywordsactive learning, lecture, reflection, response, large course, large lecture, large enrollment, pedagogy, lecture hall, large classroom llcDoc ID128260
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2023-05-12 10:06:46Updated2024-04-16 12:55:16
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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