Speed dating originated in 1998 as an efficient way for prospective romantic partners to meet each other (Deyo & Deyo, 2003); however, the method was co-opted by the educational world and adapted for the classroom in 2005 (Muurlink & Matas, 2011). In an educational setting, speed dating consists of a series of brief one-on-one interactions between students (Murphy, 2005; Muurlink & Matas, 2011).
• Students are given a topic or question to discuss.
• Students typically remain in their partner-groups for about 3-5 minutes before the instructor, who must keep time, notifies them to move on to their next partner.
• Once students rotate to their new partners, the timer is reset and students again discuss their topic or question, this time with a new discussion partner.
• The session proceeds in this manner, with each student thus getting the opportunity to interact with multiple other students in a series of brief one-on-one discussions (Murphy, 2005).
The theoretical underpinnings of this method can be traced to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, whereby each student can do more with the help of someone else than he can do on his own (Vygotsky, 1978), and Freire’s concept of dialogic learning, as the structured format of the session emphasizes the exchange of valid information and deemphasizes power differentials between students (Freire, 1970). Depending on the goals of the session, the instructor may prepare just a few broad questions for students to discuss (Murphy, 2005).
A possible pre-session preparatory activity is to provide students with time to write on the topic to organize their ideas before they begin to converse with their peers (Murphy, 2005). During each “date”, students may be allowed to simply talk freely about a topic (Larson & Tsitsos, 2013). In other variations, students may be required to take a stand on a topic, or they may be asked to incorporate points made by other students into their position as the session goes along (Murphy, 2005).
At the end of the speed dating session itself, students may be asked to write, either to reflect on the social dynamics of the session or to consolidate their content knowledge (Larson & Tsitsos, 2013; Murphy, 2005). Rather than have students write a formal essay, some instructors ask them to write field notes immediately following the session (Larson & Tsitsos, 2013).
Alternatively, the instructor could hold a whole-class discussion to debrief the event (Larson & Tsitsos, 2013). Speed dating sessions are a form of active learning, which is associated with higher levels of student engagement. Students need only talk to one other student at a time and allows introverted students to participate without fear of being observed by the whole group (Murphy, 2005; Muurlink & Matas, 2011).
Read more: Speed Dating | ablconnect (Harvard, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning)