Cindy Tananis and Cara Ciminillo on Round Robins

Hi all. We are Cindy Tananis and Cara Ciminillo, Director and Project Manager, respectively, of the Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC) in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh (

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to work with various clients on variety of projects. No matter what the issue or discipline, we have found a technique called ‘The Round Robin’, to be an effective way to collect data in a short period of time from a large group of people. The Round Robin provides an opportunity for participants to offer, collect, analyze, and interpret perception data within a relatively short period of time, as a facilitated activity.

This process works well with large or medium-size groups, young and adult people, and typically focuses on 4 or 5 questions.

The Round Robin set up places people in groups of 8 or 10 with people facing each other in chairs:

Row       Row

A            B

Q1   «  Q1

Q2   «  Q2

Q3   «  Q3

Q4   «  Q4

Q5   «  Q5

Each person in Row A has a unique question sheet (Q1, Q2, Q3…). Each person in Row B also has unique questions that match those in Row A. Each sheet has room for comments and notes.

Data Collection

Each person asks the person across from them the question on their sheet and records notes of those responses. Limit the time for responses…give each person 2 minutes to ask and record their partner’s response. In total, each dyad should need about 5 minutes.

Once the entire group has asked each other their question, row B stands up and moves down one position. Again, each person asks the person across from them the question on their sheet. And again they record the response. This rotation continues until every person has answered every question and also recorded notes from 4 or 5 (depending on group size) respondents.

Data Analysis and Reporting:

After all data are collected, regroup people by joining together all people who collected notes for the same question. As they gather, they ‘debrief’ their experience by sharing common themes and interesting responses. A recorder/reporter shares out the “summary” of their question with the whole group for larger discussion.

Hot Tip: This is a great opportunity to encourage individual input from all participants in a manageable fashion. It also provides for data collection, thematic analysis and reporting back to the larger community in one activity.

Hot Tip: Limiting the time for each dyad question-response encourages people to respond with prioritized information and keeps the activity moving, fresh and fun.

Hot Tip: Gathering the written notes (original and summary) allows for an additional check and documentation for reporting purposes.

Want to learn more from the CEAC staff? They’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2010 Conference Program in San Antonio on Wednesday, November 10, from 4:30-6pm in Republic C.

1 thought on “Cindy Tananis and Cara Ciminillo on Round Robins”

  1. Deborah Grodzicki

    Cindy and Cara,

    I really enjoyed your post! I am quite intrigued by this qualitative methodological technique! In reading your post, I was trying to think of some questions that I feel could be adequately answered in such a short period of time (especially since initial processing time should be taken into account). Could you enlighten me with some of the questions you put on the question sheet?

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