Gamification, part 2: Jeopardy (over multiple class periods)

I’ve been using jeopardy as a method for exam review for many years. If you can believe it, I remember making a poster board in one of the first classes that I ever taught that students could use. (It involved a lot of tape and papers flaps, and glitter pens).

It always is a fun way to review with students the class session before an exam.

The past 4 years, I’ve experimented with other ways to use jeopardy as a way to review, as a way to tap into students’ inherent interest in games (I mean, who doesn’t love games?!), as a way to increase student involvement and engagement, and as a way for students to develop the skill of writing exam questions.

In my big lecture class, I have implemented a jeopardy game 3-4 class sessions before an exam. Each question must be answered by a new person or team. Sometimes I throw a very large soft foam fuzzy die at random individuals who must choose the question.

They compete against “The Exam” (or me I guess). The objective is to reach certain $ benchmarks that unlock questions on the exam, narrow the essay options, provide a note card, and so on and so forth. They work together as a class to achieve these benchmarks.

Playing the game over multiple class periods allows students to kind of bomb the first round; they realize they really need to begin reviewing material. And they do. It encourages them to start reviewing for the exam earlier than they normally would. (I normally teach this big class only once a week, so 3-4 class sessions means they are weeks away from the exam).

I also play the jeopardy game in bursts–5 minutes here, 15 minutes there. It breaks up class and reenergizes them.

I also have students/teams write possible questions–we usually play more than 1 jeopardy board. They are asked to write questions that range from $100 to $500. They are typically assigned a specific topic at random. While many of the questions are too easy or too hard, there are always some really good ones. We do this a few times, and it really helps them to begin to think about how to write questions–which, I’ve found, begins to help them think about how to take tests.

In my smaller classes, I will sometimes have teams create their $100 to $500 questions in google slides, along with images (art historian over here). Then I have questions ready to go, along with images, and I can mix-and-match them to create a jeopardy board.

Team vs. Team Approach

In my smaller classes (under 30), I have the students play in their teams. And it is team vs. team (rather than students vs. professor/exam). All teams have the ability to earn certain benchmarks (e.g. any team winning over $1000 wins x, or over $3000 y). The winning team usually gets something else that no other team receives.  For final jeopardy, I have a representative from each team come to the front of the class to form a “supergroup”. These 5-6 students then have to answer the final jeopardy question after they’ve decided how much each team will wager.

Students always love jeopardy, and it really does help them to begin to review material. It is proves to be an excellent way for them to begin to retrieve material from earlier in the semester, to bond as a team or class, to encourage reviewing material, and so on and so forth.


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