In May 2011 I wrote about the Group Rumbler, or GRumbler, a set of Excel macros created by Professor Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The GRumbler facilitates the sorting of large numbers of students into groups while maintaining defined distributions and minimizing conflicts. Although simple randomized assignments are fairly easy for most of us to create (with index cards, post-it notes, or simple spreadsheets), some courses or programs require more complex arrangements, such as dividing 100 students into gender-balanced groups of 15 while at the same time making sure no more than two students from the same dorm are assigned to the same group. The GRumbler makes such tasks much easier.
The new upgraded version of the GRumbler “can handle class-sizes up to 5000, allows users to define up to 20 different types of conflict variables, and can generate up to 50 successive sets of group assignments” according to Sparrow’s website, which offers the macros as a free download along with extensive documentation.
In addition, Brian Moynihan, of the UNC School of Medicine, has created a very helpful tutorial video that demonstrates the key features of the program. The GRumbler does require some time to become familiar with all of its options, and this video will help new or potential users decide how the program could best meet their needs.
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