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Round Robin

Facilitating of Round Robin active learning activities in physically-distanced learning spaces

Time and Effort

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


Round Robin has students brainstorm on a topic without elaborating, explaining, or questioning ideas. Group members take turns responding to a question with a word, phrase, or short statement. Students share their thoughts one at a time until all students have had the opportunity to speak.


Use it when you want...

  • To have students generate as many ideas as possible around a topic while discouraging comments that interrupt or inhibit the flow of ideas,
  • To ensure equal participation among group members, or
  • To generate a list of ideas that will be the basis for a next-step assignment.

What students will need


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


  • Write a prompt that can generate a rich array of responses and can be expressed quickly and succinctly.
  • Practice by listing as many possible responses as you can.
  • Use the length of your list to predict the duration of your in-class exercise.
  • Decide whether or not groups should rotate through more than once.
  • Develop handouts to guide the activity using Google Docs and/or create a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session in which students will work collaboratively.


  • Ask students to form groups. 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 and across long distances between students.
  • Have students assign roles (e.g. rule enforcer, recorders) if necessary.
  • Explain that the purpose of brainstorming is to generate many ideas. Inform students that they must refrain from evaluating, questioning, or discussing the ideas to prevent interrupting or inhibiting the flow of ideas.
  • Give groups a time limit.
  • Share the method students will use to work collaboratively on the activity. 
    • Option 1: Students speak with one another across the empty seats.
    • Option 2: 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 3: Direct students to the Canvas course space and into the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session. Create breakout rooms spaces for each group.
  • Pose the prompt. Ask one student to begin by stating an idea or answer aloud. The next student continues brainstorming by stating a new idea; moving from member to member until all students have participated.
  • Review and synthesize results. Draw conclusions from activity or use results to inform another activity.


  • 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 159-163.

See Also:

Keywords:round robin, discussion, active learning, remote instruction, physical distance   Doc ID:104153
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Remote Instruction
Created:2020-07-20 11:05 CDTUpdated:2020-11-02 10:36 CDT
Sites:Remote Instruction
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