Social Icebreakers

The first few hours of a course or workshop is probable the hardest on particpants. Learners feel nervous and anxious about how they will fit in and be accepted. Providing icebreakers exercises help break down ‘social barriers’ and starts to build a safe and comfortable learning community (Barkley, 2010).

Instructor are responsible for developing a safe learning enviroment. If adult learners do not feel safe they will disengage or worse leave. Icebreakers are an excellent tool for building rapport in the classroom.

I enjoy using the  common icebreaker “My New friend Interview”.  It works for me both as a learner and facilitator. The instructor in PIPD Delivery of Instruction used this method on the first day of our class to get us talking and prepare us for what would be a very interactive week of learning.

This tool is easy to implement. The group is divided into dyads and they interview each other using a pre-written questionaire. Questions are personal in nature but do not intrude on privacy. Question can be developed based on the group and type of program they are in.

Questions I might ask in my workshop include:

  • Where would you like to travel and why?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • Do you have any pets. What kind?
  • What is your favour movie and why?
  • What is your favourite book and why?
  • What hobbies do you have?

The interviewer then introduces their ‘new friend’. Questions provide a discussion platform and provide the class some insight into each other.


Barkley, E. F. (2009). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Wiley, John & Sons.


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