Critical Thinking Games

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Games for Higher Education

Ice Breakers

Create your own critical thinking games

Three settings are conducive for critical thinking games: classroom, online, and outdoors (e.g., leadership development activities):

Tips for creating critical thinking games:

Here are a few examples:



Create your own simulations

Simulations provide realistic or semi-realistic opportunities for students to practice skills and solve problems in safe environments. They differ from structured experiential activities by their multi-part and branching nature. A typical simulation will provide an opening scenario that requires students to engage in a planning activity. In a second round, the student or group must use the skills or theories from the course to make a decision regarding a significant problem. Then, depending on the individual’s or group’s decision, the simulation will provide results from that decision that will drive subsequent decisions. New information and events are introduced in subsequent rounds, and the simulation concludes with a realistic outcome given the decisions made by the individual or group. Simulations can be one class period or cover multiple classes (although not necessarily the entire class period each week) - depending on whether additional research or analysis needs to be done outside the class setting.

One template you can use to help design the storyline for the simulation is SPC's critical thinking assignment template.

There are many types of simulations, including: computer-based branching stories, interactive spreadsheets, game-based models, virtual reality simulations, paper-based simulations, and live action simulations. To learn more about simulations, go to the Critical Thinking community group in ANGEL training and go to the Simulation "courselet" in the Content tab.

Commercially available simulations

There are a number of commercially available simulations that are geared for team or leadership development that require critical thinking skills to be effective in the game. Here are a some reasonably priced options:

Published by Pfeiffer (excerpted from

Adventure in the AmazonAdventure in the Amazon
Lorraine L. Ukens
In this exciting activity, participants face a simulated "jungle survival." They must reach agreement in this imaginary setting in order to succeed, and they learn why consensus produces the best decisions.

When their plane makes an emergency landing in the jungle, participants need to decide which of 15 items on the plane--including tallow candles, a pistol, safari hats, and other objects--would be most essential to their survival. First, as individuals, participants rate the 15 items. Then participants collaborate as a group and attempt to decide on the best course of action. When they cooperate, they experience the spark of synergy as never before!

Use this gripping simulation to: