Breakout groups are subdivisions of a larger meeting to deal with specific issues. Small groups meet in separate areas — corners of a large room or several smaller rooms. Each group appoints or elects a discussion leader, and each participant has a chance to express an opinion. Afterwards, groups report back to the large meeting. In neighborhood meet ings to discuss transit service issues, the Boston Transportation Department asked break out groups to identify priority issues. After each group reported, the larger meeting set priorities to report to the regional transit authority.
The Federal Highway Administration provides this example:
In Washington, D.C., breakout groups from sub-regions worked within a larger meeting on the area's long-range transportation plan and reported their area concerns to the larger group.
This resource is from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration's web page entitled “Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision-Making” (www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/pittd/smlgroup.htm).