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January 2019
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TD Magazine

Debriefing Round Robin

The situation

You want to make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in your session, but you don't want to have to say no to an eager learner. Maybe you don't want to deal with a room full of raised hands, either. How can you get the entire class involved?

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The trick

There are ways to get learners to answer your questions without picking the first person who raises her hand. You could single out a domineering student to not be called on, but that's as degrading as it sounds. Here's a better solution:

  1. Lay the groundwork. Tell participants that they will be answering a series of questions in round-robin format. Establish who will be assigned the first question and the order you will be rotating in.
  2. Let them know that they can opt to not answer a question by simply saying "pass." This takes pressure off people from having to speak if they don't want to—but don't tell them that. It also enables them to "phone a friend" if they don't know the answer to a question.
  3. Be patient. Give participants multiple chances to answer a question if they get it wrong. To many people, nothing is more intimidating than being wrong in an all-or-nothing situation. The idea is to boost their confidence to speak up, not tear them down.
  4. Keep the process going long enough that students get a few different questions. Sometimes there are exceptionally hard questions—small sample size can be a curse—so make sure to try to offer a few opportunities.

Added benefit

When you employ this type of method to establish whose turn it is at any given point, you also eliminate distraction within the classroom. Learners raising their hands or shouting to be called on can really disrupt the peace of the exercise.

About the Author

Nikki O’Keeffe is an internal ATD Facilitator. She is dedicated training specialist who delivers a positive, memorable, and meaningful service that repeatedly meets or exceeds the expectations of the client. She has experience creating strategies and visions to ensure training requirements and deliveries are in line with quality, probability, and client need. 

Nikki has worked in varied industries, including education, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. In her role as the global senior training and development specialist at PAREXEL International, her focus was on managing and developing courses for new and existing staff on technical systems, process changes, new products, and soft skills.  Her educational background includes a BA in psychology from Butler University and a master’s degree in exercise science, health, and wellness from Northeastern Illinois University. Her specific areas of interest include virtual training, facilitation techniques, and mentoring new trainers. 

Nikki is skilled at providing face-to-face and online learning programs for global participants of varying experience levels. In addition to delivering training, she has performed training needs analyses to identify gaps and recommend training solutions, worked with SMEs as a consultant to develop courses and curriculums, and evaluated programs for effectiveness. 

As a certified ATD Master Trainer and certified ATD Master Instructional Designer she understands the value of solid training plans and strong facilitation. Nikki looks forward to sharing her experiences and expanding her knowledge base by learning from her participants in the upcoming ATD courses that she leads.

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