Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 2319-2324
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.0674
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
Cooperative learning is a teaching technique that relies on the interactions and collaborations among students to achieve a specific learning outcome. By exchanging information, knowledge and solutions, students can effectively solve a given task by collaborating with others. The Aronson (Jigsaw) puzzle is a technique of this class that joins students into small groups to perform a concrete assignment, allowing them to achieve the proposed target skills and learning outcomes.

In this work, we present the use of the Jigsaw puzzle to study and understand three different communication network topologies of data centres, as an activity part of the Computer Architecture Systems course within the Computer Science degree at Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Spain. We also present the students’ assessment for this learning methodology, including the advantages and drawbacks found compared to a traditional lecture.

In particular, we apply this technique in five main steps. Firstly, students are divided into three teams, one per network topology. Each team member receives the same scientific article describing the network topology to do a comprehensive read. Secondly, the teams are divided into small working groups committed to studying the same article. The members in each group should share and exchange knowledge to learn about their network topology. In the third step, when all small groups are ready, the team meets again to prepare a short presentation explaining the basics of the assigned topology. At this point, each team member can be considered an expert, capable of explaining the network topology to others. In the fourth step, we form groups of three experts, where each member from a different team has to present the other two its topology. In the end, all students within this group learn all network topologies. Finally, the professor may randomly ask three experts to present a topology different to that initially assigned. This procedure encourages the students to participate and strive to understand all assignment concepts.

In general, with the variety of existing data centre network topologies and the positive results provided by this technique, we see that the Jigsaw puzzle is an ideal method for teaching this topic. With its adoption, we pursue three main goals:
1) to enforce autonomous learning within students, who are very likely to enter the working world soon; and
2) to initiate students in the study and understanding of scientific writings, as the documentation we provide are scientific articles; and
3) to encourage students preparing short presentations for introducing new concepts to others.

The application of this technique is also motivated by the principles of the learning pyramid, ensuring a 90% retention rate by teaching the learned concepts to others.
Cooperative learning, Jigsaw Puzzle, teamwork.