Breakout rooms have become a teacher favorite during distance learning. It gives teachers a chance to still have students work together in small groups while staying in the safety of their home. However, breakout rooms are nowhere near the equivalent of in person group work.
Although students like the overall thought of not working with the whole class, many find it harder to speak up in breakout rooms full of people they don’t know. This is especially hard for freshmen.
“Breakout rooms could be kind of awkward. Especially when no one was talking,” freshman Keira Roush said.
Besides the fact that students have trouble finding words to say, harder working students feel as if they are having to complete more of the work on their own.
“It depended on who I was working with, but usually the amount of work I did was more than others,” Roush said.
Roush isn’t the only student feeling like this either. In an informal poll of 118 students, 65% of the participants voted that they didn’t like breakout rooms. Some students have even gone so far as to leave class because of the inactivity taking place in a breakout room.
“I’ve left class because of a breakout room when I was the only one talking. I just felt like I was talking to myself the whole time,” sophomore Ben Johnson said.
One problem that may be making breakout rooms job harder, is the fact that they have to live up to the standards of in person group work.
“[Breakout rooms] are ten times worse. Online can never beat in person when it comes to group projects,” Johnson said.
When students are being forced to join into something that they dislike, it automatically makes it harder for them to want to participate. But the opposite can be said for those who enjoy it. The truth is different for everyone.
“Sometimes breakout rooms work and sometimes they don’t. It all depends on the people you’re working with and how outgoing they are. But overall, breakout rooms aren’t my favorite,” Roush said.
Breakout rooms can look perfect on paper, but teachers shouldn’t be deceived. Students struggle to find a voice and can’t share their work properly. If students are doing all the work in a breakout room by themselves, then there’s no reason to have the breakout room at all.