Student-Designed Review Games

As final exams approach, I thought I would share an excellent way to get your students to review for their exams.

Its not uncommon to use review games like jeopardy or trivial pursuit as a way of helping students in introductory courses to prepare for their exams.  A colleague of mine takes it to the next level though, and has the students design the review games themselves.  She puts them into small groups and gives them a class period of 1h20 to design the games.  Each group is assigned a chapter or two from the text and the associated material, and is told to design a 20 minute game for the class to play to review that material.  The group with the most creative game is awarded extra credit on the exam.

Some examples of the games they have played include:

-A musical chairs style game, where a rubber chicken in a bikini is thrown around while the music plays, and the person holding the chicken when the music stops has to answer a review question.

-‘Pin the UN on the Geneva”-students blindly try to pin a small model of the United Nations on a map of Europe; the country they land on (if not Switzerland, which presumably earns them a pass) determines the category of question they are asked.

-The Fly Swatter game–answers are posted on post its on the board; the class is divided into teams with a representative from each team at the board with a fly swatter.  When the question is asked, the first person to swat the correct answer wins the points.

-“Soaking Cotton Balls”–this messy game involved wet cotton balls that would be thrown at a dartboard, which determined the number of points awarded for a correct answer.

Variations on standards such as jeopardy, candyland, and trivial pursuit are also common, but the above examples show the creativity the students demonstrate.

There are lots of advantages to this system.  First, it makes the students responsible for their own review.  In preparing their game and the questions for it, they will in fact be studying for the exam.  Second, it makes the learning and reviewing process itself fun, which means that students will be more engaged in the review process during the games themselves. It ends the term (or provides a nice breather midway through) on a fun note. Finally, it saves a lot of work for the instructor, who might otherwise be preparing for and leading the review.

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