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A flipped classroom approach using a jigsaw book exercise with undergraduate civil engineering students (n=252) in years 1,3,4,5. -To focus the learning and assessment process on students being active in constructing their (own and group) knowledge (explicit and tacit) and to promote a ‘reflective practitioner’ behaviour akin to that of professional engineers. -To introduce students to the role of civil engineering knowledge and practice and to establish a foundation on which students will be self-motivated to ‘read’ widely as a commitment to becoming a professional engineer. - To introduce students to a collaborative learning space where peer knowledge is considered to be contributory (as opposed to ‘in competition’) to a holistic understanding of new knowledge whereby cooperation can be seen to lead to synergistic outcomes.


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty of Engineering

Contact Details

Dr Michael Murray






This coursework and classroom  reading activity is an “Assessment for Learning” (Afl) exercise (Sambell et-al 2012. p.51) that seeks to encourage students to take ownership and make sense of their learning through ‘organizing it into meaningful concepts, exploring ideas, reflecting, making connections by trying to link new content and associating it with what they already know’.  This Afl “exercise” (students are active learners!) employs a “flipped learning” (HEA 2015) approach that requires each student to read a book chapter (and to make appropriate notes) before attending a peer learning tutorial session. During the tutorial students participated in a modification of a learning technique known as “the jigsaw classroom” (Voyles 2015). The jigsaw classroom required students to work collaboratively (mutual dependence) in small groups so as to share the learning activity (reading of four book chapters) making them responsible for their peers learning (as a teacher) as well as their own. The output is intended to produce evidence of synergy whereby the combined new knowledge is greater that it would be had the students undertaken the reading as individuals. Fairbairn and Fairbairn (2001, p.162) offer sensible advice to students in regards to how they should approach such a reading exercise:

‘Each member of your group should view himself as an explorer visiting an unfamiliar
place- making detailed notes of the intellectual landscape, which he then shares with
his co-explorers. It is as if each person draws a sketch map and offers a verbal guide to
the main landmarks and significant features of the landscape of the text they have
explored, thus facilitating the others in carrying out their own, more detailed exploration’.


Fairbairn G J and Fairbairn S A (2001) Reading at University: A Guide for Students, Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Higher Education Academy (2015) Flipped Learning,

Sambell, K., McDowell, L. and Montgomery, C (2012) Assessment for Learning in Higher Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Voyles, E.C, Bailey, S.F and Durik, A.M (2015) New Pieces of the Jigsaw Classroom: Increasing Accountability to Reduce Social Loafing in Student Group Projects, The New School Psychology Bulletin, 13(1):11-20.