Active Learning In Virtual Environment/Thinking Aloud Pair Problem Solving

Activity: #in-class/short-term, #group-work, #needs-preparation


This learning method involves presenting a problem and then observing aloud—talk about what they are thinking as they work through the problem.[1] In thinking aloud pair problem solving students pair up with one in the role of problem solver and the other as listener.[2] For each new problem, students switch roles. The problem solver reads the problem aloud and talks through the solution to the problem.[3] The listener follows all of the problem solver's steps and catches any errors that occur.[4] For the listener to be effective, he or she must also understand the reasoning process behind the steps.[5]

Thinking-Aloud Pair Problem Solving

Activity arrangementEdit

  • Develop a set of field-related problems that students can solve within a limited time frame. The topic should engage students in all stages of problem-solving skills for example identifying the nature of a problem, analyzing the knowledge and skills required to reach a solution, identifying potential solutions, choosing the best solution, and evaluating outcomes.[6]
  • Ask students to form pairs. Then explain to them the roles of problem-solver and listener. Problem-solvers read the problem aloud and talk through the reasoning process in attempting to solve the problem. Listeners encourage the problem-solver to think aloud, ask clarification questions, offer suggestions, but refrain from solving the problem.[7]
  • Ask students to solve a set of problems, alternating roles with each new problem.[8]
  • End the activity when students have solved all problems.
  • Review the students’ solutions to the problems they studied.
  • Review the outcomes of the activity.[9]


  • Students articulate their problem-solving process and listen to another’s process.[10]
  • Increases students’ awareness of the range of problem-solving approaches.[11]
  • Improve students’ analytical skills by helping them formulate ideas,understand the sequence of steps underlying their thinking, and identify errors in another’s reasoning.[12]

How to use this method in online class?Edit

In online class this method can be a little bit harder but it is possible to execute. Before the next class, instruct the students what you are going to do in the next class and divide them into pairs in which they can decide who is a listener and who is the problem solver. Then introduce the topic itself which they need to study individually so that they are prepared for the next class. As the next class arrives divide the students into the pairs and start the exercise. This all can be done via Zoom.


  1. University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, ‘Think aloud pair problem solving’, n.d., received from
  2. Ibid, note 1
  3. National Institute for Science Education, ‘Doing CL - Thinking aloud pair problem solving’, n.d., received from
  4. Ibid, note 3
  5. Ibid
  6. University of Wisconsin-Madison, ‘Blended Learning toolkit: think-aloud pair problem-solving’, n.d., received from
  7. Ibid, note 6
  8. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. Ibid
  12. Ibid