Critical Thinking Games
Games for Higher Education
- Teach-nology.com: worksheets, logic games & other ideas
- San Jose State University's "Mission: Critical" critical thinking web page
- "Labyrinth," a gallery of computer mazes, pictures of life size mazes, and more brain exercises via mazes. This site is dedicated to mazes, and features an interactive maze program, information on the movie.
- APA Online's gradPSYCH for leading discussion
Create your own critical thinking games
Three settings are conducive for critical thinking games: classroom, online, and outdoors (e.g., leadership development activities):
- For classroom or online games, consider basing your game on a well-known game rather than take class time to teach elaborate rules.
- In most cases, online games need to be designed to be asynchronous. Quick-turn-around time limits (e.g., 24 hours) can add a sense of urgency.
- For outdoor games, create a scenario (lost on the moon, fording a river, solving a crime scene, searching for treasure) that provides a reason and goal for the activity.
Tips for creating critical thinking games:
- Game tasks should require students to analyze, evaluate, synthesize information from various sources, or solve problems in order to find the answers.
- Make sure the game requires all students to be involved (not just a few at the front of the class).
- Use game props to enhance the experience.
- SPC's Instructional Technologists have voting devices (aka "clickers") that can be checked out for classroom use. Examples of games using clickers are: Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Family Feud.
- Outdoor games can use a variety of props, including boards, ropes, and balls.
- Other props include flip charts or white boards, index cards, and game worksheets.
Here are a few examples:
- PowerPoint version of Jeopardy. Replace the answers and questions with your own. For the game to develop students' critical thinking skills, the answers should require students to analyze data, solve problems, or evaluate scenarios in order to determine the question.
- Crossword lecture. Design a crossword puzzle with questions that require students to analyze data, solve problems, or evaluate scenarios in order to determine each answer. (There are a number of free or inexpensive crossword puzzle generators on the market.) Pause during the lecture to allow pairs of students to work on the puzzle. Invite students to share answers with the class and clarify misunderstandings before continuing with the lecture. (Thiagarajan, 2003, p. 43)
- Online scavenger hunt. (Requires computer access) Create a list of key terms or concepts related to course content and have students work in teams to scout the Internet for examples and non-examples, or pros and cons. Make sure they include an evaluation of the sources. Have them present their work to the class.
- Design Your Own Games and Activities: Thiagi's Templates for Performance Improvement (Thiagarajan, 2003)
- Engaging the Online Learner (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004)
- Games Trainers Play Outdoors (Kroehnert, 2002)
Create your own simulations
Simulations provide realistic or semi-realistic opportunities for students to practice skills and solve problems in safe environments. They differ from structured experiential activities by their multi-part and branching nature. A typical simulation will provide an opening scenario that requires students to engage in a planning activity. In a second round, the student or group must use the skills or theories from the course to make a decision regarding a significant problem. Then, depending on the individual’s or group’s decision, the simulation will provide results from that decision that will drive subsequent decisions. New information and events are introduced in subsequent rounds, and the simulation concludes with a realistic outcome given the decisions made by the individual or group. Simulations can be one class period or cover multiple classes (although not necessarily the entire class period each week) - depending on whether additional research or analysis needs to be done outside the class setting.
One template you can use to help design the storyline for the simulation is SPC's critical thinking assignment template.
There are many types of simulations, including: computer-based branching stories, interactive spreadsheets, game-based models, virtual reality simulations, paper-based simulations, and live action simulations. To learn more about simulations, go to the Critical Thinking community group in ANGEL training and go to the Simulation "courselet" in the Content tab.
Commercially available simulations
There are a number of commercially available simulations that are geared for team or leadership development that require critical thinking skills to be effective in the game. Here are a some reasonably priced options:
Published by Pfeiffer (excerpted from www.pfeiffer.com)
Adventure in the Amazon
Lorraine L. Ukens
In this exciting activity, participants face a simulated "jungle survival." They must reach agreement in this imaginary setting in order to succeed, and they learn why consensus produces the best decisions.
When their plane makes an emergency landing in the jungle, participants need to decide which of 15 items on the plane--including tallow candles, a pistol, safari hats, and other objects--would be most essential to their survival. First, as individuals, participants rate the 15 items. Then participants collaborate as a group and attempt to decide on the best course of action. When they cooperate, they experience the spark of synergy as never before!
Use this gripping simulation to:
- Improve decision-making skills
- Enhance problem-solving abilities
- Strengthen group cooperation
Show groups the power of synergy . . . and much more!
Human resource professionals, team leaders, and managers piloting a team development effort, will want to conduct this refreshing activity with their groups and teams in any work setting.
Lorraine L. Ukens
Spark synergy in an icy wasteland!
With this activity, work groups wander into the unknown . . . and they emerge as high-performing teams. Activity participants embark on a simulated journey through a frozen, forbidding landscape, and experience team synergy as they never dreamed possible. The leader and participants will have a perfect opportunity to examine the impact of their interpersonal behaviors on one another, on the group's effectiveness, and on the outcome of their adventure.
Any work setting is suitable for conducting this activity. The facilitator, who does not need to be a training professional, will need a copy of The Leader's Manual, which contains detailed instructions about conducting the simulation. Each participant needs a copy of The Activity, the guidebook to this exhilarating experience.
Teams rarely realize that their combined force vastly exceeds the power of any single team member. In this icy wasteland, leaders will spark a synergy that sets teams afire!
Lost in the Cradle of Gold
Lorraine L. Ukens
Will you and your team to make the right decisions and survive in the Empty Quarter in the middle of the Arabian Desert and then locate the fabled mines of King Solomon? With Lost in the Cradle of Gold you determine which items are most important for survival in a forbidding climate -- such as gasoline, salt tablets, a knife, a tea bag, wool shirt, plastic bags, charcoal, or a hubcap. First you rank the fifteen items in order of importance individually and then you determine which things are most important as a member of a team. Afterwards compare your choices with what the group selects and determine the group performs better than any one individual alone.
Trouble on the Inca Trail
Lorraine L. Ukens
Trouble on the Inca Trail presents you and your team with numerous challenging situations that require you to choose from a set of possible actions that offer the best chance for survival. To begin, you embark on the simulated adventure alone, determining your own choices, and then you take the journey as a team, making the decisions by group consensus. Afterward, compare your choices with the group's choices and determine whether the group performs better than an individual alone. This challenging and fun-filled simulated activity will teach you how to work with others to solve problems and hone your team synergy and action-planning skills.
Lost at Sea
In this classic simulation, a group is stranded on a rubber life raft with minimal supplies including a fishing kit, mosquito netting, shark repellant, shaving mirror, two chocolate bars . . . and ten other items.
Participants work individually, then as a group, to assess the items salvaged from a yachting accident, based on their value for survival. Results are then compared with the expert rankings supplied by the U.S. Merchant Marines. Through self-scoring, the group immediately sees how well they performed.
TIMING: 1-1/2 hours
AUDIENCE: Work teams--4 to 9 team members may participate at one time--several groups may be directed simultaneously.
Stranded in the Himalayas
Lorraine L. Ukens
Build teams that move mountains! Activity participants enjoy a simulated mountain adventure. In this imaginary setting, they must arrive at consensus in order to succeed, and they experience the magic of group power: synergy. Participants face fatigue, dehydration, an avalanche, and more. First, they make decisions on their own. Then, joining the group, they compare answers and attempt to agree on the best course of action.
Participants will: listen closely to coworkers, recognize the benefits of soliciting opinions, understand the power of synergy . . . and much more!
The leader and participants will have a perfect opportunity to examine the impact of their interpersonal behaviors on one another, on the group's effectiveness, and on the outcome of their adventure. Every step in preparation, facilitation, and follow-up is carefully detailed in the Leader's Manual. The Activity contains the engaging simulation--every participant will need a copy.
Lost in Cyberspace
Alan Richter, Carol Willett
Get Lost in Cyberspace and discover if you are up to the mental challenge of forming a global virtual team that will gain the trust of a prospective client and ultimately win their business. Participants will collaborate to reach their goal and put to test the theory that in today’s economy you must be able to work with anyone, anytime, from anyplace…via technology. Team members will learn about whiteboard applications, instant messaging software, asynchronous communication . . . and much more!
With this unique activity, participants will sharpen their skills as general problem solvers, team workers, and consensus decision makers and gain first-hand experience using the tools of today’s global economy. This fast paced exercise will enhance the abilities of anyone who uses teams and technology to do their work!
This survival activity poses twelve situations that someone lost in a wilderness might encounter—snakes, bears, an early snow, and other potential life-threatening scenarios. Participants make individual, then group decisions about how to survive each situation. These decisions are compared with those of expert naturalists. The Leader's Manual offers complete instructions for facilitating the activity. There are many life-threatening encounters in this mythical wilderness. How well will your group work together to survive?
Team Adventure Series™ simulations are geared for teams at several levels of development.
Published by HRDQ, available from Teambuildning Inc., store.teambuildinginc.com
A pleasure cruise along the French Polynesian island goes sour when your group is stranded on a nameless, deserted island. Your group's challenge...decide upon 10 alternative actions that will ensure the team's survival.
Frequently used as an icebreaker exercise, Swamped! addresses group conflict and consensus decision-making. Deep in the northern wilderness, a leisurely canoe trip almost ends tragically when your group capsizes into icy waters.
Vacation in the Keys
On a boat trip, you and your friends lost your way, blew up the boat, and everyone has been thrown overboard. Can you survive your ill-fated Vacation in the Keys? This icebreaker simulation emphasizes consensus decision making.
A clever team decision-making simulation for teams in a high-pressure environment. A group of people hiking the Appalachian Trail find themselves in a situation requiring quick and deliberate actions.
Cave Without a Name
A challenging adventure simulation that focuses on consensus decision making, problem solving, and managing group conflict.
A company team building exercise in Alaska challenges a disjointed group of employees as they find themselves in a life-threatening situation.
Beyond the Valley of the Kings
Your group's balloon trip to tour Egyptian ruins is suddenly disrupted by wind gusts, causing you to crash in the desert. Emphasizing decision-making under pressure, this simulation challenges your team to survive the ordeal.
You and your friends are on a hike in the Austrialian Outback when you realize you haven't been on the trail for at least the last hour. You're lost. Your team will experience the benefits of teamwork, communication, and collaborative problem solving as they find their way back.
Many videogames require critical thinking skills. Here are a some reasonably priced videogames, some classic and some new, that require analysis, problem-solving, and application of knowledge gained in various humanities or science classes to be effective:
|Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis||Echo: Secrets of the Lost Cavern||Myst: 10th Anniversary
|Secrets of the DaVinci:
The Forbidden Manuscript
Murder on the Orient Express
|Sim Ant||Sim City Societies||Sim City Box (Collection)|
|Sim Earth||Spore: Galactic Edition||Political Machine 2008|
Board games create opportunities for small groups to develop critical thinking skills. Here are a some reasonably priced board games requiring critical thinking skills such as analysis, problem-solving, and seeing problems from different points of view:
|Notre Dame Strategy Game||Scotland Yard||Settlers of the Stone Age|
|Executive Decision Bookshelf Game||Advanced Mastermind||Battleship|
|Lost: The Game||24 DVD Board Game||CSI: The Board Game|
Aerial Analysis Challenge: www.cia.gov/kids-page/games/aerial-analysis-challenge