Learning Activities

24 Group Problem-Solving

Jennifer Smith

Students collaborate asynchronously online to solve challenging problems.

Delphi Method of Problem Solving | Student Instructions | References

Delphi Method of Problem Solving

three men having a group conversation
Dr. Shawn Weatherford discusses course logistics with colleagues.

Practice solving genetics problems is the heart of PCB3063 Genetics. Dr. Thomas Niehaus and Jennifer Smith designed a series of asynchronous discussion board posts to allow online students to solve problems that would be too difficult for a student to solve alone.

The Rand Corporation originally created the “Delphi Method” for defense research.  It was a time-efficient method to gain consensus from a group of experts. (Linstone & Turoff, 2002)  Features of this technique include:

  • The opportunity for all group members to make a meaningful contribution.
  • It uses asynchronous communication (very helpful for busy online students!)
  • In business applications, Delphi activities can extend to three or more rounds of discussion.
    • In order to keep the Genetics students moving through the course material, the Delphi rounds were limited to two in this course.

How to use this activity

  1. Explain how the Delphi Method works (adapt the student instructions below)
  2. Create a problem that is too difficult for a student to solve alone
  3. Create groups of 5 – 7 students
  4. Create a separate Canvas discussion forum for each Delphi Round
    • Allow threaded replies
    • Users must post before seeing replies (important!)
    • Graded (if desired)
    • Allow liking
    • Tip: use a short name such as Wk# DD1 to avoid expanding the gradebook too much
  5. Assign the discussion to your student groups.
  6. Create a Canvas Assignment for the final solution submission.
    • Assign to everyone
  7. Allow time sufficient time between each of the Delphi discussion rounds and the assignment submissions for students to view the solutions proposed by their peers and re-think their own solution.
  8. Be sure to provide an opportunity for students to ask questions about the problem.

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Student Instructions


  1. Watch the chapter overview video.
  2. View the notes and do the reading in the eText.
  3. Take the chapter quiz (6 points).

Delphi Discussion Round 1

  1. Take your best stab at working the problems in the problem set.
  2. Post your first attempt in the Delphi Discussion – 1 forum (2 points)
  3. Read the posts from the other members of your group.
  4. Ask questions about what others have done.
  5. Respond to questions with your thoughts.
  6. Use the “like” to tag solutions you think are correct.

Delphi Discussion Round 2

  1. Armed with the thoughts from your group, take another stab at solving the problem.
  2. Post your second attempt in the Delphi Discussion – 2 forum (2 points)
  3. Read the posts from the other members of your group.
  4.  Ask any questions.
  5. Respond to questions with your thoughts.
  6. Use the “like” to tag solutions you think are correct.

Final Solution

  1. Submit your final solution to the Canvas Assignment tool. (4 points)
  2. You can enter text and use the formula tool within the submission box OR
  3. You can photograph your solution and upload the image file OR
  4. You can attach a Word document to your submission.

If you find you are having trouble with the problem sets

  • Post your question on the FAQ Discussion Forum.
  • These questions will be answered during office hour web conference.
  • Attend one of the office hour sessions via Zoom.
  • View the recording of the office hour.

Meet with members of your group (you can use Zoom for this) to work on the problem sets. NOTE:  If members of your group can’t meet when you can, post on the FAQ Discussion to find study partners.  (Niehaus & Smith, 2017)

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  • Linstone, H. A., & Turoff, M. (2014, August). Linstone and Turoff – The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications. Retrieved January 08, 2021, from https://www.scribd.com/document/264836379/Linstone-and-Turoff-The-Delphi-Method-Techniques-and-Applications
  • Niehaus, T., & Smith, J. (2017, August). PCB3063 Genetics. Retrieved from University of Florida Canvas course site.

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Group Problem-Solving by Jennifer Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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