Speed-dating to review course material and build community

This semester, I came up with a cool way to have my class get to know each other a little bit on the first day.

My course is an intermediate-level neuroscience course that builds on knowledge they should have gained in more introductory-level work. I wanted to highlight particular concepts that they should have mastered and to gauge how well that knowledge was retained by them.

So, I made up a question sheet, with space for answers, with one fewer answer than pairs of students. So, eight questions for nine pairs of students.


We moved the chairs to form a big circle and I had the students count off in pairs: “one, two, one, two….” Then, I passed out the question sheet and had pairs of One/Two turn to each other, introduce themselves and work on the first question. I gave them two minutes and then said, “Switch!” I had all the “Twos” move over one seat, taking the seat vacated by another “Two.” The “Ones” stayed in place. The new pair introduced themselves and worked on the second question, for another two minute session.

Speed-dating-style review of key concepts! Just enough time to address the question and do a quick introduction. By the end, the “Twos” made it back around to their original seats. Now, half of the class was introduced to each other. Class community building underway!

image from: http://twenties.co/

Conversation was lively. Students began to build an intellectual community. And, it was fun!

This kind of activity can be done at any time and is a great way to mix it up. You could consider using this speed-dating idea with review questions before an exam, or to introduce a new topic at mid-semester. Try it and see!