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Talking Chips (classroom)
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Facilitating Talking Chips active learning activities in a classroom.
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||Low|
|Student Activity Time||Low|
|Instructor Response Time||Low|
|Complexity of Activity||Low|
Talking Chips have students participate in a group discussion, surrendering a token each time they speak. The purpose of this activity is to ensure equitable participation within groups by regulating how often each group member is allowed to speak.|
Use it when you want...
- To emphasize the importance of full and even participation within a group,
- To help students discuss controversial issues, to encourage quiet students to participate, or
- To solve communication and process problems, such as dominating or clashing group members.
What students will need
- Some kind of token or object like poker chips or paperclips.
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Talking Chips learning activity within a classroom.
- Determine a question or problem for group discussion.
- Identify the kind of tokens to be used in the activity.
- Form student groups.
- Give each student four or five tokens that will serve as permission to share, contribute, or debate in the conversation.
- Ask students to participate equally in the group discussion, specifying that as they contribute comments, they will get an X placed next to their name by the scorekeeper.
- When all students have contributed to the discussion and everyone has five Xs next to their name, the activity is done.
- Review the outcomes of the activity.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- The wearing of masks by students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak. All classrooms that are large enough to normally require a microphone already have a microphone system with a communal clip-on pickup element. Further information about the availability of additional clip-on or headset microphone elements will be coming soon. View the instructions and short videos below to assist with the use of the microphones and the portable systems:
An instructor in Introduction to Social Welfare wants students to be able to apply sociological theory to explain the development of social services from 1960 to 1990. Students should be able to discuss the pros and cons of various social programs established to address problems such as unwanted pregnancies. He uses Talking Chips to facilitate this conversation. Groups of students are asked to develop a list that critiques several programs provided by the instructor. Each student is given five chips, and groups are given 20 minutes. When all chips are spent, the group is to stop discussing and focus on finalizing their list. Students hand in their lists with the names of each student in the group. The instructor reviews the lists after class. In the next class session, he shares the results and provides any critique or addresses any gaps he found in the students' work (Barkley 171).
A professor in Calculus I decides to have students form groups that will persist for the entire semester. These groups are given 20 minutes each class session to work on reviewing the results of homework sets. Two weeks into the semester, she notices that while most groups are working well, a few are not. One group, in particular, has issues with dominating members who won't let the other members talk.
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 170-174.