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TV game show format provides enjoyable "test"
5 May 2005
Story and photos by Dennis J. Neumann, United Tribes News

Sheri Bear King Baker
Lakota History Instructor Sheri Bear King Baker in the role of game show host.

      The TV game show "Jeopardy" has long been a favorite of college students. A match of wits. A test of knowledge.

      Hey, it's a test! Playing "Jeopardy" is like taking a test. Isn't it?

      Sheri Baker thinks so.

      That's why she created "Lakota Jeopardy" for her class in Lakota History.

      "It's a method of teaching," said Baker. "And it's an evaluation measure."

      She'd given the typical paper and pen quizzes. But does that really measure student learning?

Students competing
Team Three scrambles for an answer in the textbook

      "We know that students learn in different ways," said Baker. "For educators, it requires measuring in different ways too."

      The UTTC faculty has had extensive experience learning about multiple forms of assessing student learning and reporting their findings, according to Brian Palecek, UTTC Assessment Coordinator.

      "Testing is only one way of assessing student learning and not a very revealing way at that," said Palecek. "The really important part of student learning will not be found in tests. The human mind is too complex for it to be that easy."

      Baker's students took the Jeopardy "test" near the end of spring term. In this version the contestants grouped together in three teams. Each taking turns, one member represented a group, honking a bicycle horn to ring in for the answer. If no one knew off the top, teams were allowed to collaborate and use the book.

Student Teri Upshaw
Teri Upshaw ready to "honk" in for Team One.

      From readings in their textbook earlier in the term the students themselves had created the questions. One student, Tanya Mendoza, had designed the Jeopardy board.

      "I learned more about Lakota History in this class than I ever knew," said Janice St. Claire (Three Affiliated). "It's interesting to learn about another culture other than your own."

      "I believe we retained a little more from the class because of it," said Jennifer Vivier.

      "It was a totally awesome learning tool," said Kristi Dionne (Turtle Mountain). "Not only fun and educational but it brought the whole class together. Even the shy people came out of their shells."

      "The best part was that no one was a loser," said another student.

      Watching the game sure was fun. But was it, in educational jargon, an "assessment of student learning?"

Students on Team Two
A light bulb of recognition comes on, too late, for Lakota Jeopardy Team Two.

      "I think it was successful," said Baker.

      In education-speak she called it "authentic and summative assessment."

      What's more, the final course evaluations written by the students were great, she said.

      By the way, Team Two, behind most of the way, squeaked out the win in Final Jeopardy.

      OK Alex, er, I mean Sheri, I'll take 'The Lakota Family' for $200, and a creative dose of learning.


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