Freudian Jigsaw

See cooperative learning activity below
Last updated 1-3-2024


The Jigsaw is a cooperative learning technique first developed in the early 1970s by Elliot Aronson and his students at the University of Texas and the University of California. In this approach, each group member is given a different piece of information that that s/he must learn and then teach to the other members of his/her group. Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece--each student's part--is essential for the completion and understanding of the final product. Therefore, group members must work together as a team to accomplish a common goal. This approach is not only an efficient way to teach and learn but also “facilitates interaction among all students in the class, leading them to value each other as contributors to their common task” (Aronson, 2000, This Jigsaw focuses on Sigmund Freud's theory of personality, also known as Psychoanalytic Theory. In order to find the information you will need, see your textbook as well as the following Internet sites:

Sigmund Freud: The Father of Psychoanalysis -
Freud’s Division of the Mind -
Freudian Glossary - 
Freudian Glossary |
Levels of the Mind -
Freud: An Overview of His Ideas -

The five pieces of this Jigsaw are:

1. Importance of Instincts, Libido, and Sublimation


2. Personality Structures (id, ego, and superego) and Levels of Consciousness


3. Psychosexual Stages


4. Oedipus and Electra Complexes


5. Defense Mechanisms (at least six of them)

Your piece of the assignment is indicated by the number at the top of this handout. Be prepared to meet at the beginning of next class with other students who have the same part in order to plan what you will present to the other four students in your group.


Freud Jigsaw Cooperative Learning Activity


Assign students their jigsaw piece as homework. Explain that they will meet during the next class to report what they have learned.

At the beginning of the next class period, have students meet with class members who have the same jigsaw piece. They should xompare information, and prepare to present their piece to others.


After about 10 minutes, form new groups making sure there is at least one person in your group with each number (one through five).


Students should then present information about their piece of the jigsaw to the other group members, proceeding in numerical order (beginning with piece one).


After each group member has presented his/her information, groups should choose a recorder and spokesperson; then try to reach a consensus regarding the following:


A) In what ways did Freud’s own childhood influence his theory?


B) In what ways do you think the Victorian era in which Freud lived influence his theory?


C) Which aspects of the theory seem most valid or acceptable? Why?


D) Which aspects of the theory seem least valid or acceptable? Why?

E) Which aspects of the theory are most important for parents to understand?


F) Which aspects of the theory are most important for educators to understand?


G) What connections, if any, are there between Freudian theory and the personality theories, especially the Big 5 and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory, covered last class?


H) Make a list of terms related to Freudian theory that are still commonly used in the media and in general conversation. Write two of these terms on the board


I) Is Freudian theory still relevant in the 21st Century? Why or why not?

When students have completed their discussion, ask group spokespersons to report their answers. Conclude the activity by trying to reach a consensus on whether Freudian theory is still relevant in the 21st Century.


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Permission is granted to anyone wishing to use this activity for instructional purposes.