Analytic Teams

Using Analytic Teams activity to facilitate problem-solving in a classroom
Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time Medium
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Low
Complexity of Activity Medium
Room Considerations Movable tables and chairs


Analytic Teams have members of a group assume roles and perform tasks while critically reading an assignment. Roles such as summarizer, connector, proponent, or critic focus on activities within an analytic process. It can be particularly useful when the teacher assigns roles that exist within the norms of the discipline.


Use it when you want...

  • Students to understand the different activities that constitute a critical analysis,
  • To focus on learning and to perform one aspect at a time,
  • To prepare students for more complex problem-solving assignments in which they may assume multiple roles or
  • To increase and equalize participation levels among group members.

What students will need

  • There are no special requirements for this approach.


The following workflow is meant to guide how to facilitate an Analytic Teams learning activity within a classroom.


  • Select an assignment that requires an analytical process. Break the process down into parts:
    Proponents: List the points you agreed with and state why.
    Critics: List the points you disagreed with or found unhelpful and state why.
    Example Givers: Give examples of key concepts presented.
    Summarizers: Prepare a summary of the essential points.
    Questioners: Prepare a list of substantive questions about the material.
  • Determine whether you could perform each assigned role and whether each is sufficiently challenging.
  • Determine how groups will be formed.
  • Create a template for the activity using Google Docs.


  • Form student groups of four or five. Assign each individual in the team a specific role and job assignment. 
  • Present the lecture, show the video, or assign the reading.
  • In groups, have them complete the assignment.
  • Give teams class time for members to share their findings and present analyses.


  • Review student analysis or formal presentation of findings.
  • Provide feedback/grade to the group or individual based on the quality of the analysis.
  • Summarize student performance in the next class. Tell them how these skills will affect their future work, and make suggestions on how students can improve their analytic process.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documentation


Example 1

In General Biology, the professor wanted to help students think critically about the connections between biology and sociology. He used Analytic Teams to help. As he reviewed the course, he identified a particular topic and three to five articles addressing the topic from different perspectives. In the unit dealing with development and reproduction, he gave students a collection of articles describing new technologies that make it possible for doctors to save babies born sixteen weeks prematurely. He explained that the articles come from various sources (including religious, medical, and insurance industries) and represent a range of viewpoints on the topic. He asked students to form groups of four. Each student in a group was given a focus role to guide their examination of the articles: 1) Perspective — unwarranted assumptions, an either/or outlook, absolutism, relativism, and bias; 2) Procedure — Considerations of evidence, double standard, hasty conclusions, over-generalization, stereotyping, and over-simplification; 3) Expression — Contradiction, arguing in circles, meaningless statements, mistaken authority, false analogy, and irrational appeals; and 4) Reaction — Changing the subject, shifting the burden of proof, creating a straw man, and attacking the critic. Students were asked to use this role as they read the articles as homework. At the next class session, the groups spent thirty minutes discussing their analysis with one another. The instructor spent the remaining class time hearing the reviews from each group. The activity got students engaged in a deeper consideration of the topic and helped improve their skills in identifying strong and weak arguments — something that will serve them well in the future (Barkley 251).

Example 2

In his Organizational Theory course, the professor developed several online modules on decision-making models: rational choice, incremental bargaining, bounded rationality, and means-end hierarchy. He created an Analytic Teams activity to help students fully understand these models. He divided students into groups of four and assigned each student to one of the four roles. He gave the students a case study detailing a complex situation that required a decision. Students should review the case as if they were consultants to the organization in the case. Each student reported his/her decision-making model, described how it might be applied to the case, and suggested a solution based on that model. Students argued their cases and decided which solution to guide their decision-making process and a rationale for why it was the best choice (Barkley 251-252).


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 249-254.

Keywordsanalytic teams, active learning, problem-solving, classroom psDoc ID104141
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-20 09:18:43Updated2024-04-16 12:40:22
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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