Groups and Groupings Moodle ISU

The Groups and Groupings options provide a way for instructors to divide the students in order to work together on activities, give participants access to specific content, and help organize the Gradebook and participant list.

This guide will help you to:

Create Groups

You can use the create groups function to create groups either manually or automatically.  When you create groups manually you first create the group, then add students to the group.  

Manually Create Groups

To create a manual group:

  1. In the Administration block of your course, Select Course Administration.
  2. Select Users.
  3. Select Groups.

Note: This will take you to your Course groups page.


  1. On the next page, Click Create group.


  1. Type in a name for your group in the Group name text box.
  1. The enrollment key for groups is not used in ISU courses.
  2. The description and picture are optional.
  1. Click Choose a file.
  2. Use the File picker to locate and select the image.

group name.png

Note: For more information about the File Picker screen, see Files and Repositories.

  1. Click Save Changes to continue, or Cancel to start over.

save changes.png

Note: After each group is created, you will see your new group listed in the groups list.

Automatically Create Groups

When you create groups automatically you can either create groups based on the number of people in a group or on the number of groups in the course.  The system will then randomly assign students to the groups.  

To create automatic groups:

  1. In the Administration block of your course, Select Course Administration.
  2. Select Users.
  3. Select Groups.


Note: This will take you to your Course groups page.

  1. Click Auto-create groups.

auto create.png

  1. Naming Scheme - type the name and either @ or # to automatically name the groups.
  1. Type in Group @ to name your groups Group A, Group B, etc.
  2. Type in Group # to name your groups Group 1, Group 2, etc.
  3. Type in Team @ to name your groups Team A, Team B, etc.
  1. Auto create based on -
  1. Number of Groups - will create the number of groups specified, adding users evenly to that number of groups.
  2. Members per group - will create groups with the specified number of members in them until all members are in a group.
  1. Group/member count - a number is required.


  1. Select members with role - here you will choose which role will be used to create the groups. Generally, this will be the Student role.
  2. Select an allocation method from the Allocate members dropdown menu if you would like to prevent a small group, or allocate participants in a non-random manner.
  3. The Prevent last small group checkbox will tell the auto-create feature to create groups so there is not a small group left over.
  1. For example: The auto-create will create two groups of three and one group of four instead of having three groups of three and one group of one.
  1. Ignore users in groups - check this box


  1. From the Grouping of auto-created groups dropdown menu, Select what grouping the auto-created groups will be part of, if any.
  2. If you selected New grouping from the dropdown menu, Type a name in the Grouping name text box.
  3. The Ignore users in groups checkbox should only be checked to select group members from users not already in a group in the course.


Note: It is also possible to import groups from a spreadsheet (.csv). This can be used to create the same groups across several courses.

For more information about importing groups, contact ITRC - (208)-282-5880 or email

Add Students to Groups

  1. From the Course groups page, Select a group.

Select group.jpg

  1. At the bottom of the Members of column, Click Add/remove users.

add or remove users.jpg

Note: If you have used the auto-create groups option, the students have already been assigned to groups.

  1. From the Potential members box, Select the participants you wish to add to the group.
  1. Hold the Ctrl key to select multiple participants.
  2. The numbers in parentheses next to the names are the number of groups to which each person has been added.


  1. Click Add, located between the Group members and Potential members columns, to add the participant(s) to the group.


  1. Click Back to groups when finished adding group members to this specific group.


Create Groupings

A grouping is a set of groups within a course. It allows you to have creative combinations of groups for any activity, (e.g. you can have groups of 2, 4 and 7).  It can also allow you to limit access to a specific activity.

To view groupings in the course:

  1. In the Administration block, Select Users.
  2. Select Groups.

Admin block.jpg

Note: This will take you to your Course groups page.

  1. Click on the Groupings tab near the top of the page.

Groupings tab.jpg

To create a grouping:

  1. In the Groupings tab at the bottom of the page, Click Create grouping.


  1. In the Grouping name text box, Type the name of your grouping.
  2. In the Grouping description text box, Enter a description if desired.

Create grouping.jpg

  1. Click Save Changes.


Note: You should now be back at the Groupings tab and see your grouping listed with none under the Groups column.

To add groups to a grouping:.

  1. In the Edit column, Click the Show groups in grouping icon.

Groups in groupings.jpg

Note: The Show groups in grouping is the image of two people.

  1. From the Potential members box, Select the name of the group you wish to add to the grouping.
  1. Hold the Ctrl key to select multiple groups.

Potential members.jpg

  1. Click Add, located between Existing members and Potential members, to add the group(s) to the grouping.


  1. When you are finished adding groups to this specific grouping, Click Back to groupings.


Using Groups/Groupings

Once the groups and groupings have been created, you may apply the group mode to your entire course, or to a specific activity. If the group mode is defined at the course level it will be the default mode for all activities within the course - this can be changed at the activity level. The activity or resource level group mode will override the course level group mode, unless Force group mode  is set to Yes.

Applying Group/Groupings to the Course

To apply group mode to the entire course:

  1. In the Administration block, Select Course administration.
  2. Select Edit settings.

Edit settings.jpg

Note: You will be taken to the Edit course settings page.

  1. Locate the Groups section near the bottom of the page.

groups 3.png

  1. Group mode - The group mode, defined at course level, is the default mode for all activities within the course. Each activity that supports groups can also define its own group mode, though if the group mode is forced at course level, the group mode setting for each activity is ignored.
  1. No Groups - At the course level this means everyone is in one big group.
  1. This is the default setting.
  1. Separate Groups - At the course level this creates, in effect, smaller individual classes within your course. Each group member can only see their own group, others are invisible.
  2. Visible Groups - At the course level, this creates a dropdown menu in the participant list, the gradebook and in the assignment grading screen.  
  1. All participants can see the dropdown menus and see who is in each group.  The instructor can also view the gradebook or the assignment grading screen by groups.

Group mode.jpg

  1. Force group mode - If group mode is forced, then the course group mode is applied to every activity in the course. Group mode settings in each activity are then ignored.
  1. Yes -  This option will force every activity and resource created within the course to use the group mode defined here in the course settings, ignoring any settings within the activity or resource.
  2. No - This option will set the group mode specified above as the default group mode for activities and resources, but allows the instructor to change the settings at the resource or activity level.
  1. Default grouping - This dropdown menu will allow you to Select one of your created groups.
  1. This grouping will become the default for all activities and resources if you are using groupings on a course level (this is not very common).
  1. Click Save changes to save the group settings.


Applying Groups/Groupings to Activities and Resources

Each activity can define its own group mode (Separate groups, Visible groups, No groups). When set at the activity level, it only applies to that specific activity.

If you use groups at the activity level, it is helpful to Set the Course settings to Group mode: Visible groups and Force: No.  This will allow students to see who is in their group using the Participants option.

  1. Turn editing on. For more information, see Moodle ISU Overview.
  2. Locate the activity or resource you would like to edit.
  3. Click Edit  located to the right of the activity.
  4. Select Edit settings.

update settings.png

Note: After you click on Edit settings, you will be taken to the page to update the settings.

  1. Locate Common module settings.
  2. Group mode - The group mode defined at course level is the default mode for all activities within the course. Each activity that supports groups can also define its own group mode, though if the group mode is forced at course level, the group mode setting for each activity is ignored.
  1. No groups - At the activity or resource level, all students will participate and have access as a whole class.
  2. Separate groups - At the activity or resource level, will divide the class according the the groups set within the course.  Students will only participate or have access within the confines of their own group.  They will not be able to see the work of others outside their own group.
  3. Visible groups - At the activity or resource level will allow students to participate within their own group and see the work of other groups.
  1. Grouping - A grouping is a collection of groups within a course. If a grouping is selected, students assigned to groups within the grouping will be able to work together.

common module settings.jpg

Note: You must first create the grouping for it to show in the list.

To save changes:

  1. Click Save and return to course if you are satisfied with the settings.
  2. Click Save and display to view how the activity will be seen.
  3. Click Cancel to delete the changes.

save and display.jpg

For more information, see Groups.

For additional information, contact ITRC - (208)-282-5880 or email

This work was done by Instructional Technology Resource Center at Idaho State University and is licensed under the Creative Commons Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 United States or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.