June 26-28, 2024
Long Beach, CA

Designing Effective Breakout Room Activities

Effective Practices
All Audiences

Presented by:

  • Megan McNamara, Ph.D., UC Santa Cruz, Foothill College, and West Valley College
  • Aaron Zachmeier, Associate Director for Instructional Design and Development, UC Santa Cruz

Speaker Bios:

  • Megan McNamara is a lecturer in Sociology and an instructional designer at UC Santa Cruz and adjunct faculty in Sociology at Foothill College and West Valley College.
  • Aaron Zachmeier is the Associate Director for Instructional Design and Development at UC Santa Cruz.

Session Info:

Group work, breakout rooms, small group activities: no matter what we call them, students tend to dislike them. We know that, when well designed, active learning techniques are demonstrably more effective at producing meaningful, durable learning than the passive consumption of educational content via lecture/reading. We will start this session by looking at common sources of failure for breakout rooms and small group activities. Then, we will critique the conventional wisdom of active learning design, some of which reproduces the very problematics that cause our breakout rooms to founder. We’ll spend the bulk of our time together exploring an entirely new approach to active learning. The unique design strategies you’ll learn in this session will empower you to create exciting, pragmatic, and exquisitely relevant active learning experiences for your students.

You will leave with an active learning activity that you can implement in your very next remote synchronous class. This session is particularly relevant to instructors who have adopted or are considering the adoption of flipped classroom pedagogies in their remote synchronous courses.

Session Outcomes:

  • Identify the design factors that lead to effective breakout room activities.
  • Explain the key components of an effective active learning prompt.
  • Clearly articulate an idea for an active learning activity related to a disciplinary concept that participant regularly teaches

Session Resources:

Designing Effective Breakout Activities McNAMARA UPDATED

View the Recorded Session

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