Published on 18 July 2023 at 15:42

Want to know why randomness makes for better lesson facilitation? Here are four proven randomizing strategies that are backed by research to increase engagement and build communities of learners. 

I think about randomness a lot when it comes to education. Few understand its power. I had a learner thank me for randomly assigning groups daily. Why? He was new and met his best friend this way. More importantly, he stated that he probably would have never spoken to to that person otherwise and would have NEVER considered being friends!

While that was one anecdotal story, here are a few ways that facilitators can use randomness as a superpower:

1)     Randomly assigned groups have to power to connect those who otherwise might never interact. If used regularly, it connects the entire group to each other because they will eventually work with everyone. After about six weeks of randomly assigned groups, empathy emerges because all participants have worked together.

2)     Random calling increases both attention and participation. It eliminates any facilitator bias and certain students from dominating the narrative. Last, depending on the answers given, it provides an excellent opportunity to dig deep into understandings or lack thereof.

3)     Randomly placed desks excite the brain. When a room is orderly, facing forward, or neatly spaced, a student immediately thinks this is a room of compliance. A randomized room (yes it looks chaotic) will increase participants’ awareness of their surroundings and engage their neurons to make sense of the situation.

4)     Random rewards develop operant conditioning in participants. It works best from a psychological perspective to give out rewards early in a lesson or session, but the idea is that the participants never know when a reward will come. Instead of working towards a reward, they work tirelessly in the hope of a reward. It increases both the time on task and the duration of involvement in a task.

As a facilitator or educator, I advise you to embrace randomness throughout your lessons or sessions. It seems counterintuitive, but randomness will elevate your next lesson or session. So instead of grouping, strategic calling, orderly desks, and fixed rewards, let fate decide. Everyone will be better because of it.

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