Tip #573: Pros and Cons of Using Jeopardy

“Education levels the playing field, allowing everyone to compete.” Joyce A. Myers

Jeopardy is a great game for checking participant comprehension. It can be used for any subject area, since it is a simple question and answer activity.

Adults enjoy its competitive nature. It can be a lot of fun, depending upon how you set up the answering process. When there are small groups competing against each other, you can require them to ring a bell, wave their hands, stand up, or throw a Koosh in the air to indicate that the group has the answer.

You can follow the Jeopardy rule that requires the answer to be phrased in the form of question or establish any other rule you like. The game can be an open or a closed book activity. It is entirely up to the facilitator.

A single facilitator will find that the most convenient way to tally scores is to have the groups keep track of their own scores under an honor system. If there is another facilitator present, that individual can keep track of the scores.

It is also relatively easy to create a tailored version using free PowerPoint templates on the web.

There are any number of Jeopardy templates available. Some are very simple with a text “board.” Others have music and animation. You just have to search until you find one that you prefer.

Once you have a template, you can decide how many subject columns you want on the Jeopardy “board.” You then insert questions relevant to each subject on slides that are accessed by pressing a number in that column.

An arrow on the question slide takes you back to the remaining questions on the Jeopardy “board.” The question that has been answered will now be a different color than the other questions, so there is no difficulty recognizing which questions have yet to be answered.

Jeopardy is a competitive game that requires quick thinking and quick reflexes. As a result, participants who need to take time to consider the question before they form an answer are at a definite disadvantage. They may find the game too rushed and noisy for their comfort.

One possible adaptation (and one I have yet to try) is to require a 1-minute waiting period before anyone can attempt to answer a question. It could be argued that one minute may be insufficient for some participants, while having to wait may stifle the excitement and spontaneity for other participants.

If you are concerned about skewing the game in favor of the more quick witted participants, then you may at least want to make the prize for winning the most points something that all of the groups can share- a big bowl of candy, for example.

Remember that the purpose of the game is to reinforce what the participants have learned by drawing content knowledge from their long term memory back into their short term memory. When someone in the room correctly answers a question that achieves the purpose of the game by reminding everyone else of the answer.

Given that, it is a good idea to engage the participants in this competitive game, recognize the winning group, and then make sure that all groups are ultimately rewarded for their participation.

May your learning be sweet.


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