Breakout group allocation schedules and the social golfer problem with adjacent group sizes

Miller, A. , Barr, M. , Kavanagh, W. , Valkov, I. and Purchase, H. C. (2021) Breakout group allocation schedules and the social golfer problem with adjacent group sizes. Symmetry, 13(1), 13. (doi: 10.3390/sym13010013)

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Abstract

The current pandemic has led schools and universities to turn to online meeting software solutions such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The teaching experience can be enhanced via the use of breakout rooms for small group interaction. Over the course of a class (or over several classes), the class will be allocated to breakout groups multiple times over several rounds. It is desirable to mix the groups as much as possible, the ideal being that no two students appear in the same group in more than one round. In this paper, we discuss how the problem of scheduling balanced allocations of students to sequential breakout rooms directly corresponds to a novel variation of a well-known problem in combinatorics (the social golfer problem), which we call the social golfer problem with adjacent group sizes. We explain how solutions to this problem can be obtained using constructions from combinatorial design theory and how they can be used to obtain good, balanced breakout room allocation schedules. We present our solutions for up to 50 students and introduce an online resource that educators can access to immediately generate suitable allocation schedules.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Purchase, Dr Helen and Valkov, Mr Ivaylo and Kavanagh, William and Barr, Dr Matthew and Miller, Professor Alice
Creator Roles:
Miller, A.Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Methodology, Software, Investigation
Barr, M.Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Methodology, Investigation
Kavanagh, W.Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Software, Investigation
Valkov, I.Writing – review and editing, Software, Data curation, Investigation
Purchase, H. C.Writing – review and editing, Investigation
Authors: Miller, A., Barr, M., Kavanagh, W., Valkov, I., and Purchase, H. C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Journal Name:Symmetry
Publisher:MDPI
ISSN:2073-8994
ISSN (Online):2073-8994
Published Online:23 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Symmetry 13(1): 13
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190906EPSRC 2015 DTPMary Beth KneafseyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/M508056/1Research and Innovation Services
172422Science of Sensor System Software (SSSS)Muffy CalderEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/N007565/1Computing Science