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Buzz Group - active learning technique

Last updated on 15 August 2022
A Buzz Group is an active learning technique in which students think about a problem in a structured way in 5 to 10 minutes.

Features

  • The Buzz Group technique is very suitable for getting students to think intensively about a central or difficult concept from the material or a controversial or difficult question from a test.
  • Type: short-term group assignment
  • Suitable for: large lectures, but also small work groups
  • Time spent during a teaching session: 5 to 15 minutes
  • Group size: 2 to 5
  • Preparation time: less than half an hour

Implementation

  1. Start: Introduce the assignment and indicate what is expected of the students and how long they have for it. Indicate that afterwards you will ask each group (or a few groups that you will designate) their reaction.
  2. Divide the students into groups. A simple technique to ensure that students do not always work with the same fellow students is to number the students and then ask them to form a group with the same numbers. If the students are still somewhat insecure or do not feel safe, try to address that point first. See for example this teaching tip.
  3. Group phase. The students discuss the way they want to discuss the assignment and then the problem presented by the teacher. Take about 5 minutes for this as well. 
  4. Share phase. The teacher asks all the students for their answers and engages the students in a wider discussion that includes the many different perspectives. If there are many groups, the teacher appoints a few students (groups) to collect responses. Allow 5 minutes for this as well. Mentimeter can be useful in the sub-phase to quickly collect and share all responses/opinions/observations centrally.
  5. Finalise.

A more elaborate form of a Buzz group is the Think-Pair-Share technique in which students first have to think about a response themselves. Or the Peer Instruction technique in which students give their answers halfway through the assignments and the teacher can decide whether the students have already acquired sufficient knowledge or whether another round of sharing should follow.

Want to know more? Have a look at the following resources