Analytic Teams

Facilitating Analytic Teams active learning activities in a physically-distanced learning space

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeMedium
Student Activity TimeLow
Instructor Response TimeLow
Complexity of ActivityMedium


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


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate an Analytic Teams learning activity within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.


  • 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.
  • Create a template for the activity using Google Docs and/or create a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session in which groups can work collaboratively.


  • Form student groups of four or five. Assign each individual in the team a specific role and job assignment. Note: Be aware that 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.
  • Present the lecture, show the video, or assign the reading.
  • Share the method students will use to write the document.
    • Option 1: Groups follow a link that creates a new version of the template in Google Docs. The document is shared among the group members and with the instructor.
    • Option 2: Direct students to the Canvas course space and into the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session. Create breakout rooms spaces for each group. 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.
  • Give teams class time for members to share their findings and present their analyses.


  • Review student analysis or formal presentation of findings.
  • Provide feedback/grade to the group or individual based on the quality of their analysis.
  • Summarize student performance at 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

  • 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. 249-254.

See Also: