Three Stay, One Stray.   This is a technique for having groups report out results of their discussion when there is no time to hear from each group.   Groups are given a problem to solve and are told to make sure that everyone in the group understands the solution that the group has come up with.  Then one member of each group is selected to "stray" by going to the next group.  At the new group, the designated student is welcomed as a visitor then briefs the three who have remained on the findings of the student's original group.  Each group, in other words, learns the findings of another group and has its findings reported to another group.  It is important that students who will be reporting out not know who they are until the last minute, so that each member of the group must be ready to represent the groups position.  Millis describes the benefits of this process this way: 

Three-Stay One-Stray offers a low-threat forum where students can exchange ideas and build social skills such as asking probing questions. It also offers students the opportunity to learn by teaching. Placing the report-out responsibility on the students reinforces the valuable conception that knowledge resides within the learning community, not just with the “authority-figure” instructor. Perhaps its greatest value lies in its efficiency. Instead of, for example, ten sequenced five-minute reports to the entire class (fifty minutes, plus transition time), individual students are simultaneously giving five-minute reports throughout the room.

Source: Course Design: Barbara Millis, "Ideas for Graduate Student Instructors: Basic Cooperative Learning Structures," Division of Instructional Innovation and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin, 19 January 2008 <>

Submitted by John Immerwahr
Update: January 19 2008.

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