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Think-Pair-Share (TPS) is a classroom exercise that allows instructors to incorporate "active learning" into classes of any size. It is effective, inclusive, and straightforward to implement. Active learning techniques improve student comprehension and engagement and have especially large benefits for members of underrepresented groups.

How to Incorporate

This 10-minute process requires each student to engage in independent thought, and then to practice explaining and listening with a partner, before finalizing a response to share with the class as a whole. Allocate 3 minutes for each step.

  • 1. THINK: Provide each student the opportunity to think independently about the prompt (such as a question based on a scenario or a synopsis of a current event). Direct students to identify relevant economic concepts or tools and to formulate answers on their own.
  • 2. PAIR: Have students pair up and take turns explaining their thinking to a partner (e.g. each could identify an essential piece of information, concept, or tool and explain its relevance to the partner). The students discuss, provide feedback to each other, and construct a more complete and correct answer together.
  • 3. SHARE: Conclude by asking some students to share their pairs' analyses with the class.


  • The rent that a firm pays for its factory has just increased. Would you advise the firm to 1) raise its output price to recoup the higher costs of production, 2) lower price in order to sell more units of output and therefore spread the added production cost over more units of output, or 3) neither? Why?
  • Draw a diagram showing a firm that is making negative profits. Why might this firm want to remain in business?
  • Why might firms in a perfectly competitive industry make zero economic profit in long-run equilibrium?

Visit Starting Point for more information and examples.

KimMarie McGoldrick also suggests Using Note-Taking Pairs to Enhance Understanding of Difficult Concepts (such as Income and Substitution Effects).