Sorting – a whiteboarding activity

Sanwal-Deen (Unsplash)

Sanwal-Deen (Unsplash)

What is sorting?

Sorting activities require a small group to understand the inter-relationship of knowledge or information and organisation. This may be fixed resulting in ‘correct’ answers or ambiguous, requiring a logic to be applied to the sorting process.
For example, sorting may require the student group to identify and apply a theory, function or framework to the task. Or the group members may need to argue the case and influence their team members in order to find agreement
Whiteboarding can help the group. It can create a space with which to engage each other to set out pertinent facts and rules, and then become a space with which to do their ‘workings’. Different coloured pens can be used to categorise information.
The ability to erase, amend or annotate whiteboard workings is particularly helpful, giving individuals the confidence to contribute.

Example sorting activities

The students will be given data, or will have created it themselves.

  • Sort the stages of boiling an egg
  • Sort the data according to popularity
  • Create and populate a matrix by first identifying values for the x and y axis that will help us to answer our research question.

Why is it a useful learning activity?

Sorting is an analytical skill, something university students use continuously, on their own and with others. Group analysis and selection of existing knowledge or analysis of engagement in other classroom activity.

How is it used?

Sorting often leads to selection through the making of ‘short lists’ which are derived from long lists with the aid of criteria.

In group work, sorting activities require the application of knowledge to resolve problems.

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