Help Me Randomly Divide A Group
May 11, 2024 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I am leading an in-person group where we will discuss a band. I want to get the group excited about the discussion by having them vote on their favorite band member using a poll. How can I then use the poll to evenly divide the group into subgroups, not based on their answer, but randomly?

I am organizing a group of 80 people to discuss, let's say, The Beatles. I want to get the group excited about the discussion by having them use their mobile phones to vote whether they favor Ringo, George, Paul, or John.

Eventually, we'll need to divide into four subgroups of 20 people for small group discussion. I want the polling site to spit out a random group assignment to the voters after they vote. The choice of preferred Beatle would not impact the groupings; instead, the poll is an excuse to provide voters with a random assignment. I want a random mix of John, Paul, George, and Ringo fans in each of the four groups.

How can I do this?

Ideally, the polling app is free and doesn't require voters to sign up for an account or download an app. It would be great if the random assignment could be the confirmation message: "You've been assigned to GROUP 1," etc.

Thank you!
posted by cursed to Education (7 answers total)
Just for clarity, what does the poll have to do with any of this? Why aren’t you just splitting the 80 people into four random groups? Are you trying to make sure that if there are only four Ringo fans they each end up in a separate group?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:47 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]

Not a tech based solution, but I’ve seen this managed upon entry. As folks enter the space they are given a post it note with their group number. Or as folks enter the space they are asked to write their name on a name tag. Those with name tags with a red border (or one dot) are asked to join the red or ones group, those with name tags with a blue border (or two dots are asked to join the blue/ twos group* etc. I wouldn’t underestimate the power of an analog solution though. Once your group reaches a certain size, inevitably there will be folks who don’t respond to the poll for any number of reasons.

*a strictly color based solution, may be problematic for some individuals with certain kinds of color blindness.

Survey Monkey has a “random assignment” feature. Since surveys aren’t exactly the same thing as live poll, I image it might take some some finagling to get everyone access to the survey.

If there’s time and moderator bandwidth, respondents can be asked to fill out a poll with their name at the start of the meeting. A moderator can export the responses, and use some mechanism (eg excel) to split folks into groups.
posted by oceano at 1:49 PM on May 11

Response by poster: Hello, the poll itself has nothing to do with splitting up the group. But I would love it if the poll confirmation could give the respondent a random number so we can randomly divide into groups. It's a two-birds-with-one-stone-type situation.

I am looking for a basic tech-based solution with a QR code, please and thank you!
posted by cursed at 2:14 PM on May 11

Response by poster: One final request: please, no answers that are not an online polling solution.

Please take the question at face value. The scenario above is greatly simplified. The group will be using polling, so I am looking for a solution based on online polling through a mobile phone.

I will accept that there is no simple way to achieve this with something like Mentimeter. However, I am not interested in non-tech answers or critiques of the process.

Thank you very much!
posted by cursed at 4:14 PM on May 11

You could do this — more or less — with the more sophisticated online survey platforms like Qualtrics or REDCap, but using either of those, unless you already have access is likely going to be cost prohibitive or very complex to implement. Google Forms can do this if you develop a web app extension for the purpose, I think. That also sounds complex. However, this thread points to a possibility:
posted by reren at 7:29 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Mod note: A couple removed; please stick to the actual question. Thank you!
posted by taz (staff) at 10:49 PM on May 11

Candy. The most clever way I saw this done was putting out five small bowls of different candy with a "Take one" sign on it for people to take as they walk in. Each type of candy corresponds to a different group.

It also doubles as a good icebreaker....
posted by answergrape at 6:57 AM on May 13

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