Round Robin (classroom)
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Using Round Robin activities to facilitate discussion in the classroom
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Round Robin has students brainstorm on a topic without elaborating, explaining, or questioning ideas. Group members take turns responding to a question with a word, phrase, or short statement. Students share their thoughts one at a time until all students have had the opportunity to speak.
Use it when you want...
- To have students generate as many ideas as possible around a topic while discouraging comments that interrupt or inhibit the flow of ideas,
- To ensure equal participation among group members, or
- To generate a list of ideas that will be the basis for a next-step assignment.
What students will need
- No special requirements for this approach.
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Round Robin learning activity within a classroom.
- Write a prompt that can generate a rich array of responses and can be expressed quickly and succinctly.
- Practice by listing as many possible responses as you can.
- Use the length of your list to predict the duration of your in-class exercise.
- Determine how you will form groups.
- Decide whether or not groups should rotate through more than once.
- Ask students to form groups.
- Have students assign roles (e.g. rule enforcer, recorders) if necessary.
- Explain that the purpose of brainstorming is to generate many ideas. Inform students that they must refrain from evaluating, questioning, or discussing the ideas to prevent interrupting or inhibiting the flow of ideas.
- Give groups a time limit.
- Pose the prompt. Ask one student to begin by stating an idea or answer aloud. The next student continues brainstorming by stating a new idea; moving from member to member until all students have participated.
- Review and synthesize results. Draw conclusions from the activity or use results to inform another activity.
- Review the outcomes of the activity.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
A Survey of International Business professor decides to use Round Robin to generate ideas and enthusiasm for a unit on risk analysis. He organizes students into groups of five or six and assigned one person in each group to be the recorder. He then asks the students to respond to the prompt, "Identify a force that influences the competitive business environment." Students take turns responding, each student adding a new idea. After groups generate ideas for about ten minutes, the professor moves from group to group, asking the recorder to share one new idea (Barkley, 160).
A lecturer in Legal Writing 1 finds that his large lecture class of 120 students is not engaging, and discussions are flat. He isn't sure whether it is because students are coming to class unprepared or whether there are real gaps in their understanding of content. Consistent calls for student questions have done little to improve things. He decides to use a Round Robin activity. Limited by the room a bit, which has fixed tables but movable chairs, he has students create groups of five with people in their row. He gives the groups the discussion prompt, "Create a list of five or six improvements to the sample contract you read before class." Students are given 15 minutes to create their list. The class comes together again, and several groups are asked to share their list as the instructor generates a collective list. After the list is made, students are asked to use it to inform their homework assignment to rewrite the contract (Barkley 161).
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp 159-163.