Nov 10 2011

Subgroup size?

What is the best subgroup size?

As a workshop leader, you'll find yourself dividing the group into working subgroups for specific exercises. Or you may want to use table seating arrangements with people in small subgroups for the entire workshop. What size of subgroup works best?

In my experience, the ideal size for a subgroup is four to five people. With this size, you tend to encourage maximum involvement. With subgroups of six or more, it is easier for one or more participants to opt out of the discussion or activity. People will also find it easier to engage in sidebar conversations.

In general, I consider triads or trios to be the minimum size for a subgroup. If the learners are comfortable with one another, these smaller subgroups can work well. I often use triads when working with groups that have less than twenty people. However, the risk with the triad size is that it only takes one person to make a group malfunction. Diads or pairs can work only if you’ve got considerable trust and comfort.

Trainer's Edge