Facilitating An Activity

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Facilitating an Activity: The Basics


First Steps

Brainstorming a Topic
You may already have a specific topic in mind: forming a book club to read a specific author, producing a short film or play. You may not have the specifics, but a general idea: I want to learn how to code, or I want to have a writing support group. With EPECs, the more specific your topic is the better you will be in the long run.

Some questions to consider:
What are the take-aways for my participants?
What are my goals as a facilitator for this course?
How long do I want to have the activity run? Will there be one session or multiple sessions?
Who are the people I want to work with?
If you were a student taking the class, would this sound worth your while to you?

After brainstorming, try writing a sample course description. State your goals for the class and the primary activities for participants (Will it be mostly dialogue? Will you be making a film or art piece? Is this a workshop?) Have a few friends read it and get their feedback.


Once you have a course description, send in your application to facilitate an EPEC. Once you are approved, you will be able to fill out an Event Registration Form to secure a meeting place. You will also be able to request money for food. Please fill out all paper work as early as you can. Most forms must be submitted two weeks before your event.

Questions to consider: How often will this group meet? Will we need meeting food? Is there equipment that we need? How many people do I want in this group? What space would be most ideal for this group to meet in? What would be a suitable back-up space? What time will the group meet?


The EPEC program will publicize your activity on the EPEC bulletin board, the EPEC Facebook page, our Hampedia site, and the Daily Digest. However, it is strongly recommended that you do extra advertising for your EPEC to get the word out. If you would like to make posters, you can contact the EPEC Coordinator to secure funding for duplications. Be creative with advertising! The more your activity stands out, the more people you reach. The general rule of thumb is that you want to advertise for twice as many people that you want to show up, and you stand a chance of getting the group number you desire.

Ideas for outreach:
Send emails to folks you know might be interested.
Put small advertisements in mailboxes (especially when attached to candy).
Balloons around campus with your event date, location, and name.
Social media.
Announce your event in the first few minutes of all of your classes.
Table in SAGA or in front of the Magic Board.

Planning a curriculum

It may not sound like it will help now, but having a general plan for your EPEC as a whole as well as each class will be extremely useful. The easiest way to plan a curriculum is to plan backwards: Where do I want my EPEC group to end up? What should participants walk away with? Now the question becomes 'How do we get there?' Set up goals for each class session that will move your group along towards your goal for the entire course.

Course Goal: Participants should be able to successfully run at 5k race at the end of this course. This course will meet every other week for two months. Students are expected to train in between course sessions.
Session One: Students should understand the pros and cons of running, proper form, and run/walk a trial 5k.
Session Two: Students will be able to create a training plan for themselves based on their current Personal Record and their desired 'Best Time'.
Session Three: Students will know proper cross-training techniques to boost their running time.
Session Four: Students will successfully run a 5k race.

This is a simple example. Ideally you would want to have more than one goal per session.

Next, it's helpful to have a plan for the activities you plan to do each session in order to plan your goals. Let's say there will be an EPEC focused on deconstructing the portrayal of 'sexy' in the media. For your first session you may want to create a plan like this:

SESSION GOAL: Set up ground rules for discussions, have participants get to know each other and feel comfortable discussing difficult topics, establish current messages that media sends to general public about 'sexy'.
Go-Around (5 minutes)
Students go around the room and state their name, division, and favorite vacation spot.
Ground Rules (15 minutes)
Have group establish ground rules for intentional and respectful conversation. If group is having a hard time generating norms, it may be helpful to have a list ready.
'Sexy' Soul Train (10 minutes)
Have the group pick out a 'pump up' song and play. With students standing in two lines facing each other, have one student start the soul train by stating a word that they associate with 'sexy' and then portray that word in their dance down the center of the two lines. Continue until everyone has gone, then have group discuss why they chose those words as 'sexy'.
Pair Share (10 minutes)
Have students spend 10 minutes writing a response to a specific prompt. Then have the students share their stories with someone next to them.
Take-Aways (10 minutes)
Have students shout out take-aways from today's session. Record on chart paper.
Close-out (5 minutes) Have students go around the room and share what they are excited about in the coming week. Also use this time to discuss any logistics and summarize the goals of today's session.
MATERIALS: Chart paper, markers, snacks, laptop

You don't always have to stick exactly to your plan for each session, but it's a useful tool to make sure you and your participants are staying on track towards your goal.

Your role as facilitator

A facilitator is someone who makes progress easier (according to dictionary.com). You are helping your cohort reach the goals outlined in your course description by designing activities and aiding dialogue about the topic you have chosen. A facilitator is not more powerful or overbearing in their group, but acts as an unbiased mediator. Depending on your topic, you may focus more on instruction than dialogue. Either way, you want to make sure your group feels comfortable with each other and is building a collective knowledge about the topic by working together!

Here's a picture of some useful Ground Rules for facilitating a group discussion or intentional dialogue.
Photo (11).JPG

When your program ends

Congratulations! Before you leave your EPEC in the past, it's important to tie up any loose ends. Write evaluations for participants that have requested them. Hand out evaluation forms to your participants if you plan on receiving an eval from the EPEC Coordinator. It may also be helpful to receive general feedback from your participants about the course so you know if you achieved the goals you set out for yourself at the beginning of the EPEC process. If you took any pictures of your EPEC, you can hand them in to the EPEC Coordinator so we can add them to the EPEC Facebook.


If your questions aren't answered on this page or on the FAQ page, please contact the student coordinator at epec@hampshire.edu, or visit during office hours in the CLA. 

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