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Group Activities

You’ll participate in group projects on the job or in school. Working in groups provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other seasoned professionals and explore different viewpoints, strategies, and solutions. Many instructors use group activities to enhance their student learning. Group activities recognize the value of collaboration, active learning, and social interactions. Some instructors often turn to small group work to capitalize on the benefits of peer-to-peer instruction.  Group work creates an inclusive and dynamic learning environment that prepares learners for real-world challenges and equips them with the essential skills for their future endeavors. 

  • Active engagement: Group activities encourage active engagement with the learning material. Students can discuss, question, and explore ideas together, enhancing their understanding and retention of the subject matter.
  • Collaboration skills: Students develop valuable collaboration and teamwork skills by working in groups. They learn to listen to others, communicate their ideas effectively, negotiate and resolve conflicts, and collectively solve problems.
  • Social interaction: Group activities provide a learning environment where students can interact with their peers, share perspectives, and build relationships. This fosters a sense of belonging, supports their emotional well-being, and promotes a positive classroom culture.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving: Group activities often involve complex tasks that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Through discussions and interactions, students can analyze information, evaluate options, and develop creative solutions, enhancing their cognitive abilities.
  • Diversity and perspective: Group activities bring together students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity enriches learning by exposing students to different viewpoints and promoting cultural understanding and empathy.


In this technique, students are given time to think about posed questions or scenarios before sharing ideas with a peer and the whole class. This activity increases student participation and the quality of student contributions to classroom discussions.

Think pair share group activity, showing how the group activity is divided.
  1. Before class, develop question(s) or scenario(s)
  2. Pose the Prompt to the entire class
  3. Students are instructed to think or write about an answer to the prompt(s)
  4. Create groups and ask them to discuss their answers
    • Asynchronous (Online): Assign groups to break out rooms in Zoom with a time limit (ie. 10 mins), so students will have time to share their thoughts with group members.
    • Synchronous class: Preassign peers who can work together frequently over an extended period. Consider forming groups (6 or 12, depending on the class size) that are further organized into pairs early in the semester.
  5. Groups come together to share their responses with the class. If in Folio, use a large class discussion.

Variations/Extension: Students can write the responses down before pairing; this is Write-Pair-Share. Students can compare their “paired” answers with another pair instead of the whole class; this is Think-Pair-Square.

Adapted from Vanderbilt University


This technique helps motivate students to accept responsibility for their own learning. It also helps students develop teaching skills and allows for teaching multiple topics simultaneously during the same class session.

jig saw example
  1. Assign different concepts or topics for which you desire students to become “experts.”
  2. Either by assignment or by choice, have the students form groups they would like to be responsible for developing expertise.
  3. Students will work in these “expert” groups to master their subject matter and develop materials (graphs, illustrations, etc).
  4. The class is then rearranged, forming new groups of four to six(4 -6), and each group will have one member from each “expert group.”
  5. The new (jigsaw) group’s expert members will take turns teaching each other the material.
  6. Have the class reflect on the group discussion in a closure activity.

    Adapted from Vanderbilt University

Fish Bowl

This activity serves two purposes: to provide structure for in-depth discussion and opportunities for the students to observe group dynamics and processes in a discussion setting. The fishbowl strategy is good for organizing medium to large group discussions. In Fishbowl, there will be two circles, an inner circle and an outer circle. Students in the inner circle are challenged to engage in an in-depth discussion, while the students in the outer circle observe and listen to the discussion and critique the content, logic, and group interactions.

Fishbowl can also be a useful discussion-structuring technique for online classes, creating “virtual” inner and outer circles using online discussion boards.

  1. Choose a topic or text. Develop open-ended questions to start the discussion. If using text, students may read the text before or may be used to introduce the text.
  2. Ask a small group of students (4-5) volunteers to be inside the fishbowl (inner circle) and ask the remaining students to form a larger circle around them (outer circle). Instruct the outer circle to remain quiet, observe and listen to the discussion, and critique the content, logic, and group interactions.
  3. Give the students the prompt question(s) or tasks for discussion and have them begin. The instructor does not participate in the discussion but poses questions to prompt deeper conversations and ensure everyone in the inner circle has time to talk.
  4. Debrief with a follow-up discussion, which will address the content issues that arose and the group processes.

Adapted from Pocket Guide for Evidence-Based

Groups Tool in Folio

Explore the Groups tool in Folio

Last updated: 11/28/2023