Using “The Game of Life” as an End-of-Semester Assessment


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This activity uses of the “The Game of Life” as an end-of-semester assessment in a Marriages and Families course. Students play the board game “The Game of Life,” produced by Milton Bradley, and respond to prompts asking them to analyze assumptions that the game makes about family life, connecting the game with material covered throughout the course. Specifically, students are asked to identify five assumptions the game makes, assess the accuracy of those assumptions (based on course content), and to make suggestions for revisions to the game so that it better reflects contemporary family experiences. Feedback from students regarding the use of this activity as an end-of-semester assessment has been overwhelmingly positive. Results from student surveys indicate that the assignment meets both assignment and course objectives, and qualitative analysis of written comments indicates that students find the assignment prevented cramming, believe that the assignment helped them make meaningful connections between class material and the real world, and had fun while learning. The activity also fits with current research within the scholarship of teaching and learning, including a focus on active learning, permitting multiple correct answers, and the impact of stress on learning.


Resource Type(s):
Jeanne Holcomb 
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Usage Notes:

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The course begins with an introduction of Dorothy Smith’s ideological model of the Standard North American Family (SNAF), and then introduces examples of the vast multiplicity of family life experiences in the United States. Examples of topics covered in the course include multiple sexes, long-term cohabitation, same-sex relationships, surrogacy,...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
To identify and assess assumptions about family life in cultural artifacts
Assessment 1:
Students write five assumptions the game makes about family life (such as everyone gets married), and respond to the following prompt: Are those assumptions accurate portrayals of family life today in the U.S.? Explain.
Goal 2:
To create suggestions such that contemporary family experiences are more strongly reflected in cultural artifacts
Assessment 2:
Students name five changes that could be made to the game in order for it to better reflect contemporary family experiences in a written reflection assignment and on the exam.

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