Three-Step Interview

Facilitating a Three-Step Interview active learning activity in a physically-distanced learning space.

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeLow
Student Activity TimeLow
Instructor Response TimeLow
Complexity of ActivityLow


Three-Step Interview has student pairs take turns interviewing each other, then asks them to report what they learned to another pair. Step 1: Student A interviews Student B; Step 2: Student B interviews Student A; Step 3: Student A and B each summarize their partner’s responses for other groups.


Use it when you want...

  • To allow students to network and improve communication skills,
  • To have students listen carefully, concentrate on the interviewee’s responses, and encourage elaboration while refraining from imposing their thoughts, or
  • To have students practice expressing their ideas succinctly as they summarize the results of their interview.

What students will need


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Three-Step Interview learning activity within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.


  • Develop a list of interview questions that involve opinions or experiences related to course content.
  • Identify the types of questions that align with the course goals and probe for values, attitudes, prior experience, and/or comprehension of course content.
  • Create a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session where you can create breakout rooms for each group.


  • Students divide into groups of four, then into two pairs (A-B and C-D).
  • The instructor poses the question to the class. Gives students time to think about the question and devise individual responses.
  • Students are asked to join their groups.
    • Option 1: Students use their laptops or mobile phones and use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms to share their thoughts with their partners using the Chat feature. Note: Breakout groups are only available in sessions with 250 or fewer attendees. You can create up to 20 breakout rooms. There is no limit to the number of attendees you can put in each group.
  • Student A interviews Student B; Student C interviews Student D for a predetermined time. The interviewer asks questions, listens, and probes for further information but does not evaluate or respond.
  • Student B interviews Student A; Student D interviews Student C for the same amount of time.
  • Student A and B introduce each other with synthesized summaries of their partner’s interview responses to Student C and Student D. Student C and D do the same.
  • Students share responses in larger class discussion.
    • Option 1: Students remain in their seats and share their responses (making sure they speak loudly enough for all students to hear).
    • Option 2: Students use the Top Hat discussion question type to share their positions with the class while remaining in their seats.
    • Option 3: The instructor displays the Google Docs document on the screen and facilitates a discussion while students remain in their seats.
    • Option 4: Students take turns going to the front of the room and use the podium microphone to share their response (appropriate for large classrooms).


  • Review the outcomes of the activity.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • Classroom furniture is not to be rearranged to facilitate activities. If you need a different general assignment classroom to meet your instructional needs, contact your curricular representative.
  • If students are to move around the room during an activity, consider the mobility, location, equipment, and furniture needs of all students.
  • The physical distance between students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak.
  • This same physical distance may increase the noise level in the room as students try to speak to one another. This noise level may cause issues for some students. To this end, it is recommended that group size be limited to pairs (ideally) or triads at most. Activities requiring larger group sizes should utilize text-based chat solutions like those found in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
  • The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.

Technical Documentation


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 175-179.

See Also:

Keywords:three step interview, discussion, active learning, remote instruction, physical distance   Doc ID:104155
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Remote Instruction
Created:2020-07-20 11:44 CDTUpdated:2020-10-30 13:58 CDT
Sites:Remote Instruction
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