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Using Playing Cards to Encourage Student Participation and Engagement

Like many faculty, it has been no easy feat to keep students engaged during class, especially in a physical geography course in which many undergraduate students take to fulfill a general education science requirement. Despite COVID-19 protocols and numerous other hurdles, we have found success with student engagement by using a simple deck of playing cards to encourage participation and manage the classroom more effectively.

The card technique and classroom management

In fall of 2021, Jennifer Rahn, associate professor of geography at Samford University, integrated a simple technique to keep students engaged during class and help keep track of who participated.

First, Rahn bought two packs of standard playing cards. Her classes typically have 25 students, so having 100 cards allowed her to award four cards to each student (the amount of cards needed will depend on the class size). Next, she brought the cards to class and explained the rules. She told students that they could earn a participation card every time they asked or answered a question, or if they contributed to the class discussion. The card would be placed on their desk where both the instructor and student could see it.

Originally posted at Faculty Focus