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Pros and Cons of Round Robin Reading Strategy

Samarpita Choudhury Mar 4, 2020
Teaching is a noble job. Therefore, to make the students learn quickly, yet correctly, is not a cake walk at all! This story tries to throw some light on the pros and cons of an age-old practice of 'Round Robin Reading Strategy', which is practiced by many teachers.


Popcorn reading is another oral reading practice, where the teacher reads a few lines, before uttering the word 'popcorn', followed by the student's name who should do the reading job after her.
All teachers have this power to create a bunch of intellectuals. But the task is demanding and requires several ways to motivate and make the students inclined towards learning.
As they rightly say, it is easier to take a horse to the pond, but it is not easy to make it drink water from the pond. Likewise, it is easier to gather the students for the class, but it is no easy job to inspire them to learn.
Therefore, several strategies are used by the teachers to pursue their teaching talent, apart from using the long chiding sessions and the stick-trick with their pupils. Well, coming back to the point, one of the most practiced strategy is the Round Robin Reading Strategy.
We shall call it the RRRS henceforth in the rest of this article. The name is potent, agreed. But what is the strategy and how to apply it in the teaching process, what are its merits and demerits, if any. These are some of the questions whose answers we will seek in this story.
To begin with, let's specify that the term generally hinges on the phenomenon of repetition. For a while we are transported back in the time of history, when we used to be in schools and had tough times in the company of those really strict teachers.
But have we ever experienced RRRS ourselves? I am sure, at least once in our lifetime, we have all been exposed to this practice.

History of Round Robin Reading Strategy (RRRS)

Now before delving into the borders of its advantages and disadvantages, let us first find out, what exactly is RRRS? It is nothing but the practice of allotting each and every student in the classroom to read from chapters which is a new chapter.
So, no one has any idea about the content of the chapter. While s/he does the reading, the rest of the class listens, waiting for their turn to come; or rather hoping that the class gets dismissed for the day, before they become the next easy prey to this unique practice! Well, the practice is also famous as 'popcorn reading'.
Well, the origin of the term is dicey, many sources say that there were times when in navy, there were complaints lodged against the higher authority, which were undersigned by the members who complained.
In order to keep themselves safe from bearing the blame of initiation of the complaint, the signatories signed in a 'round' pattern on the paper, thus, successfully hiding the initiator of the complaint.
There is also another story clinging on the term. It is also used on playgrounds, during games, where every player has to face every other player. This is done in turns.

Lately, it is used for any letter or memorandum which is circulated in all strata.
Considering the essence of this story, the second historical reason is more apt for our concept and understanding of RRRS. Now let's delve into the pros and cons of round robin reading in detail.

Purpose of RRRS

  • The introduction of the system was mainly to draw students' attention. This practice is usually limited to the lower classes, where the students are really inattentive, and take the teachers for a ride to focus their attention.
  • The aim was to force the students to pay attention for when they were inattentive, they wouldn't be able really to read from the exact place where the fellow classmate had stopped.
  • And if he fails to pick up reading from the same spot, that would call for punishments. Hence, the students had to pay attention, all along. Therefore, it ensured mass-class attention.
  • This maintained discipline in the classroom. When any one student was assigned the task of reading, he was busy in reading, the rest were busy listening, or rather waiting for their turn. This was helpful in maintaining the class decorum, on the part of the teacher.
  • RRRS also proved helpful in analyzing the reading capability of the students. Reading aloud, helped the teacher to spot the follies of the students, thus helping them to have better articulation in the future.
  • It also helped the teacher to facilitate more of student participation, rather than delivering a lecture on the topic.
  • Those were the few benefits of Round Robin Reading, that we got on the list. Now, let's also see some of the demerits also ranking for this mode of reading.

Demerits of RRRS

The following section will draw your attention to the reasons which amount to making this systematic reading activity a bad activity altogether. The students are taken to a passive mode.
In RRRS, the learning process which actually is the essence of classroom learning, takes a backseat.
The student who is assigned the reading job, does it, whereas the rest simply wait apprehensively for their turn of reading.
  • It limits the students' analytical and problem-solving skills. Instead of racking the brains into understanding the concept of the chapter, the students engage themselves in the listening job or the waiting job.
  • It induces monotony. This process is definitely not one of the best ways to inculcate interests in the minds of the students about the new chapter. They rather get bored of the long and tedious listening sessions which go on incessantly. It is an overused technique.
  • It becomes more of a terror for those who don't possess great reading ability. They become conscious when their mistakes are pointed out in public. This instills some kind of an inferiority complex in the minds of the students, which isn't desirable at all.
  • It also does no good for the ones who are ahead in grasping things. They are made to read in a way such that it could match up with the ability of the ones who are lagging behind. Thus setting a common learning pace, which is not wanted in the first place.
  • Every pupil has their individual abilities to grasp and learn. Assigning a fixed pace makes the quick learners compromise, and the ones who are not that quick, to learn in a hurry. The ideal thing to do is to divide the classroom according to the level of help and guidance the students require.
Well, these were some of the reasons which have sufficient reasons to be called, some practical disadvantages of RRRS.

A Suggested Activity for Round Robin Reading Strategy

# Assign the students a particular chapter to read on their own, and note down the key elements of the chapter, or in short the crux of the chapter.
# Every student has a unique style of interpretation, using which they will deduce different points which are important according to their understanding.

# Some of the points may be similar, the rest can be totally different.
# This is the purpose of the activity. The students will come up with their individual interpretations and share. Thus, every student will be exposed to a new perspective.

The points would be shared by each of them in a 'Round Ribbon Reading' format, thus enabling each to put forth their findings.

# The teacher then can give the necessary input.
The earlier-mentioned activity could really make the students to take real initiative in understanding the points and the chapter, rather than be worried about their reading skills. This article will help you in evaluating whether Round Robin Reading could be taken up as a teaching method in schools, or is it time we saw it off!