Point: Studies Show That Icebreakers Foster Energetic and Meaningful Discussion
By ANTHROCUL 321.003 GSI
The first day of section really sets the tone for the rest of the semester. In order to create a productive learning environment, research shows that it’s important to dispel any anxiety or discomfort and engage students in interacting freely from the get-go.
The best way to do this, according to a vast body of literature, is to break the ice with an interesting question that allows students to establish themselves as individuals within the group. The key is to get students to reveal aspects of their personality without making them feel uncomfortable, so it’s important to keep it light: studies have found that stuffy questions like “What’s your major?” tend to have very little success. A playful question like “If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?”, on the other hand, will inspire humorous, creative responses that will build a sense of community and get students warmed up for more purposeful, intellectual discussion.
Counterpoint: Goddamnit, Not the Ice Cream One
By ANTHROCUL 321.003
If we were ice cream?! Jesus, it’s the first day of section – let’s knock this out in ten minutes and get on with our day. Better yet, why don’t you just move past the “classroom engagement techniques” Google found for you last night so we don’t have to pretend to learn each other’s names? How about a quick little “I’m Steve and I’m a psych major” introduction? What’s with this ice cream shit?
Okay, so maybe you fell asleep watching The Dating Game last night and your sleepy, addled mind latched on to the last question you heard. But, let’s face it, we’re not nearly as excited about it as the audience was. To be frank, nothing kills our desire to participate in purposeful, intellectual discussion like being forced to compare ourselves to food.
Please, ask us something else, anything else – mother’s maiden name? Favorite place on campus? Darkest moment from your childhood? Come on, just make this quick.
Originally published: September 2012