These are stories that students shared about their experiences of working in small groups in breakout rooms during synchronous online tutorials.
I haven’t used a breakout room before in any of my tutorials, so I wasn’t really sure what was happening initially, but when we got put in the smaller groups, I think for a little while, there wasn’t really much contribution, everyone else was waiting for somebody to start the ball rolling with contributions, but it was nice then because there was just three of us and everybody went through the introductions again and then worked on the task in hand. It was helpful with it being smaller numbers because you felt able to acknowledge what everyone else was sharing, you knew what you were putting out there was being received by the other two people, so that worked really well and then when everyone came back together and shared their ideas collectively, you felt a bit more prepared because you knew you were on the right lines having already discussed it with smaller numbers (Samantha, student).
Being with just one other student in the breakout room made me feel like we were in a classroom. I got to know a little bit more about her. She got to know more about me and I didn’t feel intimidated then asking questions or putting comments on your little boxes because I felt as though we were on the same level, whereas some people who put comments on, they sound so professional and they sound like they take a briefcase to work, whereas me, I’m just a childminder. I’m listening to Peppa Pig all flippin’ day. And so, it was nice to get to know her and to know we’re just the same (Steve, student).
In small groups, we had the discussion about the videos, just the four of us and that was useful to see other people’s perspectives on things but in my group, only myself and one other person had watched the videos [before the tutorial]. The other two didn’t really offer an opinion because they’d not got up to that point yet. So, it was useful but if everybody had contributed, then it would have been more useful (Gemma, student).