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Buzz Groups (classroom)

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Facilitating Buzz Group active learning approaches in a classroom.

Time and Effort

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


Buzz Groups are teams of three to five students formed to quickly and spontaneously respond to course-related questions. A group can reply to one or more topics, and all groups can discuss the same or different topics. The discussion is informal. Students do not need to arrive at a consensus because the goal is the exchange of ideas.


Use it when you want...

  • To have a warm-up activity before a whole-class discussion,
  • To generate information and ideas quickly,
  • To allow students to express their thoughts and practice sharing their ideas,
  • To increase students’ repertoire of ideas around a topic, or
  • To lay a foundation for a rich and engaging discussion involving the entire class.

What students will need

  • No special requirements for this approach.


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Buzz Group learning activity within a classroom.


  • Identify a topic for discussion.
  • Craft a discussion prompt that is conceptual rather than factual, and that will stimulate an open-ended examination of ideas. Try responding to the question yourself, so you are confident that they will generate a variety of responses.
  • Choose how you are going to present the prompt question, such as on a worksheet, presentation slide, or whiteboard.
  • Develop handouts to guide the activity in which students will work collaboratively.


  • Form groups, announce the discussion prompt and provide a time limit for activity. Note: Consider limiting the group size to 2-3 students. Groups larger than 2-3 people are encouraged to use text-based chat features instead of speaking to one another to reduce the noise volume in the room and to prevent shouting across long distances between students. 
  • Ask group members to exchange ideas in response to the prompt.
  • Check periodically to see whether groups are still engaged and focused on the assigned topic. If off-topic, shorten the time limit. If on-topic but time has ended, consider extending the deadline.
  • Have groups report out results, or build on students’ work.


  • Review the outcomes of the activity.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

Technical Documentation


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp 164-169.

See Also:

Keywords:buzz-groups, discussions, active learning, classroom   Doc ID:104151
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2020-07-20 09:45 CSTUpdated:2021-08-20 13:08 CST
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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