What is


Fishbowl is an active learning exercise where a small group of students practice responding to multiple viewpoints. Students prepare by reading a course text in advance of class. During class, four or five students join an ‘inner circle’ that forms the fishbowl. The remaining students observe and take notes on the inner circle’s discussion. Instructors should provide the inner circle with text-dependent questions to answer during the discussion. Afterwards, the class is divided into small groups and students debrief and reflect on what was observed, what they agreed with and what they disagreed with. A full class discussion is held after group conversations.

Fishbowl refers to an active learning approach where students are split into an inner circle or an outer circle and engage in a debate surrounding a course text. The inner circle—composed of four to five students—discusses the text while the outer circle takes notes. Students can be rotated through the fishbowl through the course of the discussion to give everyone an equal opportunity to reflect on the material.