Tip #594: A Dice Game to Check Retention

“Unless we remember, we cannot understand.” E. M. Forster

“The game is meant to be fun.” Jack Nicklaus

The following Tip comes courtesy of Renard Brown of CSOSA.

This is a 10-minute small group activity to check retention that uses dice and a numbered list of topics. It serves as an anticipatory set (a brief activity or event at the beginning of the lesson that effectively engages participants’ attention and focuses their thoughts on the learning objective).

The game is as follows:

  • The participants work within their table groups. Each group is given one dice.
  • The numbers of the dice correspond to numbered topics in their participant manual or on a PowerPoint slide.
  • When a player rolls the dice, the person has 20 seconds to talk about the topic that corresponds to the number s/he rolled.
  • The participants are cautioned not to worry about remembering everything about the topic, because someone else at the table may roll the same number and add more information.
  • Someone at the table keeps track of the time and calls “stop” after 20 seconds.
  • The game takes approximately 10 minutes.
  • At the conclusion of the game, the important information related to each category is then discussed with the entire class.

I have never seen or used this game before, so I was delighted to learn about it.

I like it for a number of reasons. Although the game uses one dice, I’m going to give as many reasons as there are pips on two dice!

In no particular order of importance:

  1. It is an excellent transitional activity, since it draws on prior learning to set the stage for new learning.
  1. It is a clever way to check participant comprehension and retention of a variety of topics.
  1. The time limit rather than a fact limit eases the potential pressure on a player to try to remember and state everything about a topic.
  1. The lack of a necessity to state a specific number of facts eases the anxiety of a person who needs time to think before responding or speaks slowly.
  1. The element of chance makes it interesting and fun.
  1. It satisfies many different learning styles or preferences.
  1. There is follow through with the discussion of all the topics at the conclusion of the game.
  1. It helps participants discover how a number of different topics relate to each other and culminate in the content that is the focus of the lesson at hand.
  1. It requires little pre-training preparation on the part of the facilitator.
  1. It is a simple game to set up and facilitate.
  1. Participants can build on each other’s answers.
  1. Dice are light and easy to transport.

The ideal is for every topic to be discussed, so my only concern is what happens if everyone at the table keeps rolling the same numbers.

I would add another rule: that if a number is rolled more than twice, the player needs to use the next number.

For example, if the frequently rolled number were 2, the player would discuss topic 3. If the frequently rolled number were 6, the player would discuss topic 1.

I definitely plan to incorporate this game into future learning programs!

Thank you, Renard!

May your learning be sweet.



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