Choice-Random Grouping Method

Methods for dividing students into groups seem to fall into five categories:

a.) Chosen entirely by teacher.
b.) Initial randomization, with some changes by teacher for accomodation.
c.) Complete pre-randomization.
d.) Complete in-class randomization.
e.) Student choice.

I have had logistical and time issues with a through c lately (especially with student absences), and both d and e also have problems (d can result in resentment and students trying to swap cards to get with who they want, and e can result in cliques of motivation-less students).

So I’ve been trying a method with some success lately that is a mash-up of d and e.

First, students choose a partner.

Then, one student from each group of two draws cards. Each card has a match somewhere in the draw pile.


After all cards are drawn, groups of two that have the same card now combine to form a group of four.

This method combines both the initial student buy-in of choice and the forced-to-interact-with-others quality of randomness.

With a little bit of card legerdemain it’s even possible to incorporate method b and ensure certain matchups don’t happen.

In odd-number-of-students situations I have designated a “free agent” student who is free to choose a group after all the groups are decided.


4 Responses

  1. How do you generally use groups? Is most or all of your class done as group work? Do you reshuffle them regularly?

    I’ve had one really good experience as a student in a class with mostly-randomized groups that were reshuffled every class. The intent with the regular reshuffle was to encourage students to work well with everyone and anyone. Also from that teacher’s experience, students are less likely to complain about matchups they don’t like when they know it’s only going to be for the next hour.

    (Haven’t tried this myself yet, but I’m going to give it a shot in my practicum over the next couple months.)

    • Ah yes, I forgot to mention the “clock group” type arrangement where students have a list they rotate around.

      I do formal group things maybe once every week, so I haven’t felt the need to do that; plus the logistical pains of my particular school make it impractical (students being pulled to and from counselors, 1/3 of the class absent for no apparent reason, etc.) but in theory that system works well.

  2. It was time for new groups tomorrow, I like it, I’m going to try it. Thank you.

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