The "Active Learning Activities" series will focus on what its name suggests: activities provided by our very own professors to be utilized in active learning classrooms. This post focuses on Dr. Harry Jol’s use of “Buzz Groups” – informal groups of four to six – to give students a chance to connect course content to the real world and establish meaningful connections with each other.
Setting: 5-minute activity regularly implemented in a 300-level course; 8 pods with 6 students per pod
Purpose of the activity: The purpose of this activity is for the students to find a linkage with the course material and activities/processes that happening in the world. A secondary purpose is provide students time for pod (team) building and allow time for each pod to check in with each other before the class begins.
How the activity unfolded in the classroom: Each pod is asked to provide one example of an environmental hazard in the world as they walk into the classroom (becomes routine as the semester progresses). (Note: each pod is the same individuals once a pod building and selection is complete at the beginning of the semester.) The pods are allowed to use any resource they want (computers, smart phones, newspapers, etc.). After several minutes, each pod briefly reports out to the class.
After the activity: The results presented tie directly into past, present and/or future content and discussions for the class. Examples from these discussions are also in the class exams. In addition, the exercise allows the students to transition from earlier classes/activities/getting to class to touching base with their pod members and then starting to think about class content.
Additional comments from instructor: Based on end of the semester class assessment, the students enjoyed the time to touch base with each member and that the exercise built community amongst individuals who did not know each other at the beginning of the semester. There was some concern from some pods that we should do it only weekly not at every class as they felt it became repetitious.
For additional examples of active learning from UW Eau Claire instructors, follow this link to our website or click on the "Active Learning" tag located on the right side of the blog.
Tip provided by Harry Jol