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Family Feud (with Graduate Students!)

One the things that I love the most about my job is that I get to assist graduate students in the College of Education as they are working on their degrees. I really connect with this population, because I tend to understand their world. Whether they are current public school teachers or admins, or in academia, I’ve been heavily immersed in both of these worlds so most of the time I can make meaningful connections with them and build the rapport that is necessary for helping them as they go through the stages of writing their dissertations.

Summer is a busy time for Education students! While a lot of people would assume that not a lot of library instruction goes on during the summer, I actually do a lot of instruction! We have several cohorts that come to campus for two weeks at a time, and this summer was no different. Usually I see the “first year” students and do a typical “here’s all the stuff you need to know about the library” (while following up with research consultations, and more assignment-based class visits, of course!), and I see the more experienced second year graduate students. Since the second year students survived the library orientation the first summer, the second year we get to do more in-depth things, and I treat it kind of like a Q & A, with some planned topics for when there is uncomfortable silence.

Well, this year I was getting bored with doing the same old thing, and I had just been to a leadership workshop in which played a “Family Feud” style game (thanks, T & Karen!) to review concepts that we had learned the previous year. So I thought, what a great thing to do with my 2nd year students! I’ll start off by finding out how much they remember from last summer, what they’ve used throughout the year, and it will get them up and moving, and so on… So, I came up with a lot (and I mean a lot) of questions, and created slides, found some sound effects, solicited a teacher partner (Hi, Rachel!), and did the game. How cool was I, figuring out a way to get graduate students to participate in active learning?! (Backstory: I don’t know about you, but my grad students and their profs are really happy and seem to expect straight up lecture for however long I feel like standing there- they absorb every word! Easy audience, but still…).

Results: When the game started, the students were having fun, and interacting with each other and me. They remembered and had clearly used A LOT of the things that I taught them the previous year. But, I realized going through that they were getting a bit tired of it, and that I had planned too many questions. This is where flexibility comes in. Rachel and I both knew that things were going downhill, so we went to a BONUS ROUND and finished as fast as we could, and then got back to the straight up Q&A/lecture that they seemed to crave.

Lessons Learned: Grad students like active learning, but in small doses. Family Feud was perfect for this group, and when I do it again next year, I’ll plan a few less questions. It’s a great way to quickly review what they know, and assess where the gaps are before getting to the lecture Q&A portion of the class.

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