WIN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
Reproduced with permission from by Brian Hoepper
This activity is an interesting application of the idea that students might come to
understand concepts through 'enactive' learning - through 'doing it'. This may make
concepts more accessible to some students.
In groups of eight, students form a square - two students seated on each side of the
square all facing inwards. Each pair is given two plastic tokens - one blue, one red. They
are told that the aim of the game is to 'win as much as you can'.
There are ten rounds. For each round, at a command from the controller of the game,
each pair will display (in the hand, palm up) one of their two tokens. The combination of
tokens that is showing determines what point score each pair gets. (See Score Sheet)
Because the colour they display affects their score, each pair is allowed to discuss what
they will display before each round takes place. There is nothing to stop tem from talking
to the other six students in their square if they wish (or even all the students in the
room), but the controller does not say this explicitly. After each round, the controller
asks who is 'winning' and who is 'losing', and reminds them that the aim is to 'win as
much as you can'.
As the score sheet indicates, three of the ten rounds are bonus rounds, when scores are
multiplied by 3, 5 and 10 respectively. On each of these three occasions, the controller
specifically invites the students to enter into discussion with the other students and
makes time available for this.
At the end of ten rounds, scores are totalled and the 'winners' identified.
Usually, various students will display characteristics such as competitiveness,
acquisitiveness, deceit, and betrayal, while others exhibit trust and cooperation. The
game itself tends to reward individual acts of selfishness, but spells diaster if everybody
pursues a selfish line. Students will often become frustrated or angry with the deceit of
others (who may promise in general discussion to display one colour, but then do the
opposite). Conversely those who cheat successfully may gloat about it.
Almost always however, only the rare pair ends up scoring more than they would have if
everybody acted cooperatively from the start. In the debriefing, students are asked to
think about this, and to discuss how the expression 'win as much as you can' could be
NB: You can make up any questions you like but it adds additional effect to make your
questions relate to the broad curriculum / module topic under consideration.