Classroom Carousel – A technique for generating ideas in City’s Learning Spaces

Carousel Ride at a Fair
Bring the fun of the fairground into the classroom! (photo by Santanu Vasant/City University London, CC-BY-SA)

Active learning in classrooms encourages students to work collaboratively and motivate each others’ learning, to clarify their understanding of course content and reflect on different peer perspectives. Take a look at the group work suggestions in our series of blog posts. We recommend booking City’s new Learning Spaces to run these activities.


Classroom Carousel is a way of generating lots of ideas to a set of open ended questions in groups of no more than six. Informally it assesses the knowledge of each member of the group and helps students to focus on a particular topic. It can serve as a good start or end of session activity or when energy is low, as it’s quite an active technique!


The approach allows students to communicate their ideas on a given topic and to explore multiple perspectives of other students. It fosters the skills of team working and communication within the group and helps students form a deeper understanding of a topic by thinking about the open ended questions. This technique works with a smaller class size of up to 30 students.


  • Split the class into groups of no more than six students. Organise the room so that there’s room to move around the room and have students sit near to a wall. Create 5-6 stations with the furniture where the students will work.

  • Place flipchart paper on the walls or squiggle glass with the relevant open ended question (for example, ‘for what reasons…’). Aim for 5-6 questions. Assign students a starting point to begin the idea generation process.

  • Give each group a set time to generate ideas. After the set time (typically 5 minutes), indicate (by clapping, using a bell or horn) to them to move to the next question, the students move onto the next question and repeat the process. This continues until all of the groups have had the opportunity to generate ideas around each question.

  • Finally, ask each group to report out to the whole group, briefly summarising the themes, big ideas, and important applications to their work that have emerged.

Online suggestion: You can replicate this activity online via a discussion forum

Tip:  This technique can be modified so that the 5-6 questions are tasks of 5 minutes long testing out their understanding of a topic.

Where can this activity be done?

Room type Building Room Capacity Notes
Movable tables and chairs College A109 35
A214 30
AG08 40
University B307B/C 70
BLG08 32
BM02 25
BM03 25
Node chairs College A112 16
AG24B 25 SHS only
Social Sciences D222 22

For more ideas on group work activities in flexible learning spaces visit


Higgins, K. 2009. Classroom Carousel [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 27.08.2014]

Purdue. n.d. Active Learning in the Large Class [online] Available from: [Accessed: 27.08.2014]

Stix. A 2012. Carousel Brainstorming [online] Available from: [Accessed: 27.08.2014]


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