INTRODUCTION: California Community College (CCC) counselors regularly present a two-hour “Orientation to College Success” as a required portion of a California State Mandate called “Matriculation.” In our College’s orientation, students are provided much information they need to know to be a successful student, including special dates to remember, procedures for class withdrawals, probation, degree requirements, resources available (child-care to tutoring), transfer, and educational plans. Counselors also provide a group interpretation of the students’ math, English and reading level assessment scores and conclude with hands-on assistance in developing a first-semester educational plan.

Given the enormous amount of information presented in such a short time, my concern was whether students were learning and retaining what they need to know to be successful.  In addition to their learning facts, I also wanted students to leave smiling at one another, realizing that they knew a few more people than when they walked in. In addition to its use in an orientation, this exercise would be ideal for helping students review any factual information given in a class, whether presented in a syllabus, lecture, or reading assignment. The activity deepens students’ understanding of the content while also contributing to an atmosphere of positive and open learning.  


  1. To review and improve recall of important information
  2. To provide an opportunity for students to experience the benefits of group collaboration and learning


  1. REVIEW BINGO Handout (See Support Materials below)
  2. Evaluation Form (See Outcomes/Experiences section for example questions)
  3. A pencil with an eraser
  4. Whistle or chime
  5. Prizes for the winners


1. After all information has been presented and questions answered, announce: “We’ve covered an enormous amount of information. Now you’re going to have an opportunity to show how much you have learned, and hopefully, make a few new friends at the same time. This activity is called REVIEW BINGO and we we’ll have prizes for the winners.”

2. Distribute the REVIEW BINGO sheets and ask students to read the directions along with you.  Then have students fill in answers on their Bingo cards, working alone, in pairs, or in small groups as described in the directions.

3. When students finish filling out their Bingo cards, announce, “Now I’ll draw slips of paper that will have the terms found in the BINGO squares.  After the term has been called, I’ll provide the correct answer.  If you answered correctly, place a large checkmark in that BINGO square.  Please erase and correct any answers you missed, so you will know this important information; just don’t give yourself credit for the square. When you have checks in four boxes in a row or diagonal, call out “Bingo!” Any questions?”

4. As you play the Bingo game, clarify and/or discuss terms or information that students find difficult.

5. After winners have been identified, hold a brief discussion of the answers for squares not called in the activity.

6. Award prizes to the winners. We gave 5 winners a small gift from our campus bookstore (like a mug, notebook, something with the college logo).

7. Ask students to answer the evaluation questions. 


The students in our orientation sessions seemed evenly divided between those who started this activity with enthusiasm and those who apparently did not enjoy the idea of a “game” activity.  I attribute this partly to the varied ages and interaction skills of individuals who attend a CCC Orientation. Some students began their task alone with gusto (or not), and others immediately began to buzz about, working with friends and/or making acquaintances as they moved around completing their BINGO sheets. Interestingly, even the students who started alone rarely stayed alone, as others would approach and engage them, creating a comfort zone for them to engage others.  Throughout the orientations in which I used REVIEW BINGO, I observed only a very small number of students who worked totally alone and had no other student interaction.

I had not prepared myself for how chaotic it could get in the room, and I quickly realized I needed an effective prop to get students’ attention after they had filled out their Bingo sheets. I called on my P.E. department and got a coach to give me my own whistle that I use, softly, in various styles to pull them back together! You might want to use a chime or other attention getter-instead.

At the end of the session, I collected students’ evaluations and heard comments such as:

I learned a lot!  [And they always seem surprised.]

Thank you, this was very helpful.

This was OK. My friend said his orientation session was awful and he didn’t learn a thing.

I liked that game, I feel really better about going to college now.

This was good, now I don’t feel so afraid of what to do.

I never knew I could work on my Associates Degree and prepare to transfer at the same time.

Can I come and see you for Counseling?

So where is that place where I can get tutoring?

I didn’t know I could get help with book money, thanks!

On the evaluation, we asked students (among other questions), “Did the REVIEW BINGO activity help you learn the information or know where to find the answer for important points covered in Orientation today?”  Of the 166 students who participated in the REVIEW BINGO over five orientations, 93% answered Yes to this question.


Not being a huge fan of participating in “game” activities, I made the judgment that “adults” do not enjoy “learning games.” However, participating in the “Graduation Game” at the On Course I Workshop gave me a different perspective. Here we were, adult educators, and all of us totally engaged in the activity!  It was fun, and it helped me feel more comfortable with peers with whom I had been interacting for three days and that experience really drove the point home for me. I realized right then at the workshop that I had let my preconceptions about teaching and learning keep me from being open to group work and learning through “games.”  Now I see the value of using learning strategies that might have felt risky to me in the past.  I am open to the advantages of creating a large and colorful bag of classroom activities that will help my students learn better.

I highly recommend the use of REVIEW BINGO, or a variation, as a positive exercise to meet various purposes.  It’s a valuable tool to review important knowledge. It also provides students with a fun and non-threatening way to meet and get to know fellow students.


The BINGO game activity is used for many purposes and has been around forever.  I have seen it used in various contexts: in coursework I did myself (many) years ago, counseling activities, icebreakers, and review of subject matter content.


DIRECTIONS: “Below you will find BINGO squares filled with concepts that we have just learned. Below the BINGO squares is a list of definitions for these concepts. Find the matching definition and write its number in the correct square. Your goal is to find a correct match for the term in every box. You can work independently, with one other student, or in a small group. When everyone is seated and quiet, we will begin. When you have filled in all of your squares, please be seated and quiet. It is at that time that the actual BINGO game will begin.”

Here are sample terms that could be placed in 16 boxes on the Bingo card.

Educational Plan Academic Probation GPA BOGW
Learning Center INC September 27, 2003 Homework
Financial Aid Child Care Academic Renewal EOPS
Eagle’s Perch Transfer Center FASFA Room 109

Here are sample definitions that could be placed below the boxes on the Bingo card.

  1. A list of classes needed to meet a specific educational goal(s)

  2. Less than 2.0 GPA for a semester

  3. Grade Point Average

  4. Board of Governor’s Waiver (a form of CA financial aid)

  5. Place where a student can receive free academic tutoring

  6. Incomplete grade (student has until 6 weeks into the following semester to resolve)

  7. Last date to drop a class for the fall semester and receive a refund

  8. A successful student requirement

  9. A source of Money!

  10. Childhood Education Studies-offers lab for majors and childcare for parents

  11. A “cleansing” of transcripts/records

  12. Equal Opportunities Programs & Services

  13. Campus Bookstore

  14. Assistance for College and University level education and transfer

  15. Free Application for Federal Student Aid

  16. Location of the Counseling Office

–Deborah May, Counselor/Professor, Mt. San Jacinto College, CA

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