Brainstorming is a type of active learning in which the instructor poses a question or problem and students generate as many ideas as possible within a specified time frame. Generated ideas are not evaluated until the conclusion of the brainstorming session. At that time, the instructor brings the class back together to organize and rank ideas/solutions. Brainstorming activities are not limited to writing down ideas on paper or post-its. Students are able to brainstorm independently or collaboratively using Web 2.0 tools such as Padlet or Microsoft OneDrive. 

Possible Instructional Uses:

  • Gauge prior knowledge by instructing students to write down everything they know related to a new chapter or unit topic.
  • Present a problem and instruct students to brainstorm possible solutions. Share out solutions and determine the best solution based on supporting evidence.
  • Pose a possible solution to an issue and instruct students to determine the pros and cons of the solution. Create a master pro/con list at the conclusion of the brainstorming session. 
  • Show students a picture or share an opening line and ask students to complete the story. Have the students share their stories at the end of the brainstorming session. 
  • Instruct students to generate a list of ideas for a writing assignment.

WCU Supported Tools:

Additional Tools:

Tips for using Brainstorming:

  • Create a relaxed and supportive environment so all students are willing to speak up and participate in the brainstorming session (Unin & Bearing, 2016).
  • For the purpose of brainstorming, encourage students to focus on quantity, not quality. By doing so, they won’t be as hesitant to share ideas (Alberta Learning, 2002)
  • Establish roles within a brainstorming group, such as note-taker and facilitator. The facilitator can encourage participation, prevent negative conversation, and keep track of time (Northern Illinois University, n.d.).
  • Remember that the goal of incorporating brainstorming into instruction is not just to come up with new ideas, but for all students to participate (Malkawi & Smadi, 2018).


Alberta Learning. (2002). Instructional Strategies. Retrieved from

Malkawi, N. A., & Smadi, M. (2018). The effectiveness of using brainstorming strategy in the development of academic achievement of sixth grade students in English grammar at public schools in Jordan. International Education Studies, 11(3), 92.

Northern Illinois University. (n.d.). Brainstorming. Retrieved from

Unin, N., & Bearing, P. (2016). Brainstorming as a Way to Approach Student-centered Learning in the ESL Classroom. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 224, 605-612.