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Education & Training in I-O Pyschology

Neil M.A. Hauenstein
Virginia Tech

Part of the challenge of academics is to find teaching strategies that convey the information effectively, maintain the students interest and motivation, and dare I say, allow the student to take some ownership of the topic. In this issue Laura provides a written reprise of her 2001 SIOP presentation on the Jigsaw Classroom that provides an effective strategy for achieving the above goals. This column is intended as an open forum on education and training issues, so please do not hesitate to provide feedback or to volunteer to write an article for the column. Contact either Laura (Laura.Koppes@eku.edu) or me at nhauen@vt.edu. Were still looking for that catchier title for the column, so put your creative thinking caps on!


Using the Jigsaw Classroom to Teach the History of
I-O Psychology and Related Topics

Laura L. Koppes
Eastern Kentucky University

The history of I-O psychology is an essential component of any I-O psychology or related course. According to Schultz and Schultz (2000), Only by exploring psychologys origins and studying its development can we see clearly the nature of psychology today (p. 2). After reviewing the first 50 years of the journal Personnel Psychology, editor John R. Hollenbeck (1998) stated, . . . the impact that one has on the future seems to be closely related to ones appreciation of the past. This makes it all the more fitting, therefore, to reflect on and study our past . . . (Editorial). Adequate coverage of our disciplines history is challenging, however, because of the vast amount of information from the past 100- plus years. This article describes a learning strategy that allows for intensive coverage of broad material and provides for active learning.

The jigsaw classroom is a cooperative learning technique in which students spend a portion of their time in pursuit of common goals (Aronson, Bridgeman, & Geffner, 1978; Aronson, Stephen, Sikes, Blaney, & Snapp, 1978). Students are placed in learning groups and each student in each group is assigned a unique and important part or segment of the material. Every student becomes an expert by learning one section. Once the student has learned the section, she/he then teaches it to the other group members. Similar to the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, the parts or segments must be combined before any of the students can learn the entire picture (or entire history, in this example).

I include an additional step when I use this technique. After the student learns the segment and before teaching her/his group members, the student meets with an expert of the same segment from another learning group. (I recognize that I am using the term, expert, loosely here!) The students share their knowledge about the segment to gain another perspective and possibly revise their information. The student then returns to her/his group and shares the information with the group members.

I use the jigsaw classroom to teach the history of I-O psychology with one of two frameworks. One approach to framing our history is to use Muchinskys (2000) chronological timeline. One hundred years are divided into six separate time periods (segments):

The Early Years (19001916)
World War I (19171918)
Between the Wars (19191940)
World War II (19411945)
Toward Specialization (19461963)
Government Intervention (1964Present)

Using this framework, students are placed in six-person learning groups. Each student is assigned a time period/segment. Using the textbook and other assigned readings, the student is asked to identify important events and individuals in the discipline during the period. Then, the student confers with another student (i.e., expert) from a different learning group, who was assigned the same time period. The experts return to their home groups and teach about the time period to their group members. While the students are teaching each other, I listen to the discussions for evidence of learning and understanding of relevant material. Following the jigsaw groups, I supplement the learning by providing additional information and explanations.

A second framework is to examine significant developments and persons within the overall social, cultural, and political contexts of the times, an approach referred to as a new history of psychology (Furumoto, 1988). Pate and Wertheimer (1993), for example, stated, The history of a discipline such as psychology involves describing major discoveries, illuminating questions of priority, and identifying great individuals in the context of a national or international Zeitgeist (p. xv). In order to understand the social-historical context of I-O psychology, students examine dynamic forces that shaped the discipline during the past 100 years in the United States (i.e., socioeconomic, business, technological, legal, military, psychological, intradisciplinary forces). To save class time, the students read materials before they arrive to class (e.g., Katzell & Austin, 1992; Koppes, in press). Within this framework, students are placed in seven-person learning groups, with each student assigned one force. To facilitate the process, I give each student a set of questions to answer. For example, a student focusing on technological forces may answer the following questions:

1. What are 2 paradigm shifts in the history of computer technology in organizations? How did these shifts affect work?

2. What are 2 examples of technologys influence on the work of I-O psychologists?

Below is a diagram that depicts the steps for using the jigsaw classroom with a 3-person group and a total of 4 groups in the class.

Step 1 (home group 1):

  Expert A  
Expert B   Expert C

(this would be the same combination for the other 3 home groups)

Step 2 (expert A group):

  Expert A  
Expert A   Expert A
  Expert A  

(this would be the same combination for Expert B group and Expert C group)


Step 3 (home group 1):

  Expert A  
Expert B   Expert C


(this would be the same combination for the other 3 home groups)


Aronson, Bridgeman, and Geffner (1978) and Aronson and Bridgeman (1979) identified several beneficial effects of using the jigsaw classroom such as improved student attitudes, increased self-esteem, and improved performance. According to these researchers, two possible explanations for these positive outcomes include (a) the students are active in their learning, and (b) the technique provides for collaborative or interdependent learning. Although I have not collected empirical data to assess the effectiveness of the jigsaw classroom for learning, qualitative data have revealed that this technique is effective in covering breadth and depth of material, facilitating students learning, and creating positive student reactions.



    Aronson, E., & Bridgeman, D. L. (1979). Jigsaw groups and the desegregated classroom: in pursuit of common goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5(4), 438466.
Aronson, E., Bridgeman, D. L., & Geffner, R. (1978). The effects of a cooperative classroom structure on students behavior and attitudes. In D. Bar-Tal and L. Saxe (Eds.), Social Psychology of Education: Theory and Research. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
Aronson, E., Stephen, C., Sikes, J., Blaney, N., & Snapp, M. (1978). The jigsaw classroom. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Furumoto, L. (1988). The new history of psychology. In I. S. Cohen (Ed.), The G. Stanley Hall lecture series (Vol. 9, pp. 933). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hollenbeck, J. R. (Ed.). (1998). Personnel psychologys citation leading articles: The first five decades. Personnel Psychology, 51, Editorial.
    Katzell, R. A., & Austin, J.T. (1992). From then to now: The development of industrial-organizational psychology in the United States. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 803835.
Koppes, L. L. (in press). Industrial-organizational psychology: Confluence of dynamic forces. In D. K. Freedheim (Ed.,), History of Psychology. Volume 1 of the Handbook of psychology, Editor-in-Chief: I. B. Weiner. New York: Wiley & Sons.
Koppes, L. L. (2001, April). Using the jigsaw classroom to teach the history of I-O psychology. In L. L. Koppes & P. Bachiochi (Chairs), Ideas and Innovations for Teaching I-O Psychology and Related Topics. Symposium conducted at the Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Diego, CA.
Muchinsky, P.M. (2000). Psychology applied to work, (6th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Pate, J. L., & Wertheimer, M. (1993). Preface. In J. L. Pate & M. Wertheimer (Eds.), No small part: A history of regional organizations in American psychology (pp. xvxvii). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2000). A history of modern psychology, (7th ed.) Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace.


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