INTRODUCTION: I wanted to create a simple, fun way to present the lecture content and to motivate more students to attend class having read the assigned homework. The idea of a game show with teams came to mind.

In my course, the lectures for the semester are divided into body systems. I chose to do the game show for the unit on eye and ear disorders and to focus the game on eye disorders. There were six eye disorders covered in the readings, and I thought this would be an appropriate number of disorders to use in creating a game show.

This game-show format can be used in a variety of introductory courses that typically require students to learn many new facts. For example, it would work well in a science course to teach topics such as cellular activity and/or atomic structures. In a psychology class, it would be effective for familiarizing students with various theorists. In an art history class, the game could help students learn to recognize the work of great artists. The possibilities are endless. I have found that a game show is great fun for students and a terrific way to improve their preparation for class and increase participation during class. This activity takes about thirty minutes.


  • To provide students with a fun and stimulating way to learn new material.
  • To encourage students to share their knowledge with each other to achieve a goal.
  • To motivate students to prepare for class so they will participate actively during lectures and increase learning of the assigned material.


  • Handout for students to complete prior to class (described in the directions below)
  • Power Point slides with questions and answers (example offered in directions)


  • CD with disco music (Bee Gee’s, Donna Summer come to mind…)
  • Pink feather boa (very optional)
  • Small prizes for winning team (since I had students play the game right before Halloween, I used small Halloween toys, e.g., skeleton rings and candy corn)


1. Provide reading assignment and handout one week before the game. Clarify due date and points for completing the handout. My handout provided students with six boxes, each labeled with one of the following eye disorders: cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, and blindness. Within each box, students were asked to provide the following for each disorder: the definition, signs and symptoms, and the treatment. They were to obtain this information from the assigned reading in their medical-surgical book.

2. On the day of the game, collect completed handouts from students at the start of class. (5 minutes)

3. To begin the game, have students count off by twos and create two teams. Have each team select a spokesperson. (3-4 minutes)

4. Play music, put on the boa, and announce, “It’s now time to play ‘Name That Eye Disorder!'” Decide which team goes first. I had teams choose a number from one to ten and the team closest to the number I was thinking was first.

5. Explain the following game rules (you may want to put a summary on white board):

A. I will show a question on PowerPoint and read it aloud. Then I will show four possible answers. Team One will have thirty seconds to discuss an answer. I’ll play music while the team is talking and stop the music when time is up. Team Two should also discuss possible answers in case Team One is wrong. (I allowed about one minute for each question and answer.)

B. A team that answers a question correctly the first time receives two points. (Keep score on dry erase board.)

C. If the first answer is incorrect, the other team has a chance to answer the question and receive two points.

D. If the second team also answers incorrectly, the first team can try to answer again for one point.

E. The team with the most points at the end of twelve questions wins. Each member of the winning team will receive a prize.

6. Teams take turns answering questions until all are answered correctly (about 15 minutes total). Here is an example of one of the questions I asked:

QUESTION: A patient with bilateral cataracts is scheduled for an extracapsular cataract extraction with an intraocular lens
implantation of one eye. Preoperatively, the nurse should…..

A. inform the patient that the operative eye will need to be patched for 3-4 days post-op.
B. assess the visual acuity in the inoperative eye to plan the need for post-op assistance.
C. assure the patient that vision in the operative eye will be improved to near normal on the first post-op day.
D. teach the patient routine C&DB techniques to use post-op to prevent respiratory complications.

7. Discuss/clarify any questions that were challenging.

8. Determine the winning team and hand out prizes (and file away your boa for next time).


This activity was very successful. Because there were so many points attached to the home assignment, every student completed it, which made a big difference in the game’s success.

Of course the students laughed a lot when I turned on the music and threw on the pink boa! They were also surprised and amused when I introduced the game show on the Power Point. But once I started showing and reading the questions, they took things pretty seriously. I was initially worried that thirty seconds would be too long to discuss each question, but it ended up being a good amount of time. The students discussed their possible answers for the entire thirty seconds. Because all students had done the home assignment, all students participated actively in their group’s discussion of questions and answer.

There were two questions that the initial team answered incorrectly, and the second team had a chance to answer. On one of these questions, the second team also answered incorrectly and the initial team then gave the correct answer. This question was definitely the most difficult question and was related to the pharmacological treatment for glaucoma. Instead of using the trade name for the drug treatment, I used the drug classification. That threw the students a bit because, although it was an application level question, it’s not necessarily something they would have studied.

There was a lot of laughing and the students commented on the music I chose which was made up of oldies from the disco era. They thought that was great, and it definitely kept the mood upbeat.


I wanted to provide the students with a fun activity that would engage them during lecture, provide a stimulating way to learn necessary material, and encourage them to share their knowledge with each other to accomplish a goal. This was definitely the most fun activity I did all year. Because I really hammed it up, the students were laughing and paying attention. There was a lot of excitement when the teams answered correctly, which created much positive energy. The atmosphere stayed fun, but the students remained intently focused on getting the correct answers.

I also wanted to motivate the students to prepare for class so they would have a better chance of participating during lecture and an increased chance of gaining knowledge. Assigning a 10-point handout for the students to complete as homework definitely increased their level of preparation before and participation during the game. Significantly, students did quite well on the subsequent unit test. The test contained eleven questions related to eye disorders. The students averaged 9 correct answers for this portion of the test. I believe these high scores indicated that the students’ preparation for and participation in this activity contributed to their learning.


I would definitely use this strategy again. It was great fun and I believe a terrific way to present academic content.

Having the students prepare in advance was essential to the success of this activity. To ensure that they would prepare, I chose to assign a significant number of points to the handout. This use of extrinsic motivation is not always appropriate, but because this unit contained less complex information, I felt comfortable using the points on the handout and having fewer test questions. In the future, I might consider attaching fewer points to the assignment and motivating students to complete the assignment by telling them about the game in advance and possibly giving extra credit points to the winning team. Any type of points and/or test results seems to be the biggest motivators for most of my students.

In the future, I might use a spinner or other way to randomly choose the team member who answers each question. In this way, everyone on the team needs to be fully prepared to answer correctly, not just one spokesperson (who is usually one of the more talented students to begin with).

I discovered that having the students see me loosened up, uninhibited, and having fun while teaching difficult material gave them permission to loosen up too! This definitely reinforced my belief that to the extent we show more of our true selves to the students (act authentically), they will also open up in positive ways. (Apparently my authentic self involves some type of game show hosting!)

–Lisa Cappelli, Faculty, Practical Nursing, Madison Area Technical College, WI

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