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Pass the midterm, move ahead to second semester

AP Psychology students create board games for study & review

Byron Center   Game pieces  the sketched head of legendary psychologists Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner and John B. Watson — waited at the starting line of Psychy Road.

The game, similar to Candy Land, requires answering AP Psych questions correctly to proceed, and, instead of passing Lord Licorice, players faced the challenge of passing their midterm exam.

“It really helps me see what I need to study,” said senior Sara Zimmerle who created the game with four classmates as a way to study for the test.

Around them, students played their own creations modeled after popular games and given a psychological twist. They used the games for test prep — quizzing each other Trivial Pursuit style and solving Clue-like mysteries involving well-known psychologists by correctly answering review questions.

Senior Alayna Arms posed a question to junior Nick Corey while playing Psych LIFE, designed after The Game of Life. Instead of making choices about marriage and children, they quizzed each other on social sciences.

“What is functionalism?” Alayna asked.

Answered Nick: “The focus on how the conscious relates to behavior.”

Teacher Derek Boillat said the game-making assignment was an out-of-the box way to help students prep for the exam during a year when instruction has been non-traditional. The district spent much of the first semester with students in a hybrid model of instruction, plus high schools statewide were in remote learning for several weeks.

“This year has been kind of challenging with being remote, hybrid and all the switching around,” Boillat said. “I needed a good way for them to study and review for their exams and I wanted something where students could get together, laugh and review and study.”

Whodunits, Hints and Life Lessons

Groups developed mini-reviews from each unit they covered to create their games. A psychology-based Clue, for example, involves a game board with rooms labeled Social Psychology, Scientific Foundations, Sensation and Perception, and other areas of focus. Suspect cards are famous psychologists and weapon cars are experiments. Building their case requires players to answer psychology questions. 

 “A lot of the study comes from creating your own game,” said Boillat, who gave his students a class period of review to play one another’s games. The project itself required collaboration through Zoom and Facetime, since students created them while instruction was in the hybrid model with half of students in person and half remote each day.

Boillat said a concern is how the pandemic will impact AP test scores taken in May. The game-making is part of keeping his students on track. 

It seems to be working. 

“I was comparing this year’s midterm exam versus last year’s mid-term exam and, for this hour, the class was 3 percent higher than last year’s…. If you forecast it to the AP test, I think they are trending to do just as well.”

Senior Ryann Mariner and her group created a game fashioned after Codenames, except using psychology terms. To answer correctly, one must know definitions well. “It definitely helped,” Ryann said. “It made it more fun than just sitting down and studying because we got to work in a group setting. I think it was a good review for us.”

Senior Abbie Westers and her group created an AP Psych version of Trivial Pursuit. “It was a way to study that didn’t really feel like studying. It was easy and fun, and still had a good effect on my grade specifically.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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