I am nearing the conclusion of my first course as an adjunct instructor and I'm searching for some useful and engaging activities for reviewing the semester's content as a group. This is a required undergraduate survey business systems course that covers a fairly wide range of concepts and terms, with students representing a variety of majors. I hope to both prepare them for the comprehensive final exam and to reinforce the key ideas that we've covered (between which, ideally, there is significant overlap). Although most of the students are performing quite well, there have been several complaints about the difficulty of preparing for an exam covering such a diverse set of topics.

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    What course? The activities that can be done in a course about analog electronics can be fairly different than those that can be done in an algebra course. Nov 16, 2015 at 20:00
  • This is a semi-technical business systems course.
    – jmans
    Nov 16, 2015 at 20:13
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    I know this is late but: if it's a required course, then likely it has been taught many times before. Did you ask previous instructors about what they did?
    – Kimball
    Jan 11, 2016 at 15:04
  • I did, although since it's always taught by adjuncts, each had sorted through this issue on their own. I ended up stitching together some small group activities and lectures to address the major course modules, and then providing a term list.
    – jmans
    Jan 27, 2016 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


There are an endless amount of resources for this question available on the internet here is just a handful of ideas

  • Developing a study-guide yourself is a default option for most lecturers. You include all of the concepts that will appear on the exam plus additional ones that you believe the students should know but that you will not assess. The additional information prevents the students from focusing only on test content.
  • Jigsaw involves dividing the work for the review by groups. Each group reviews their part. After each group reviews their part you remix the groups so that each group includes all of the pieces of the review. Everyone in each group shares their part to form the complete picture.
  • Some professors have students make potential sample questions. Developing and answering questions is a useful technique in content mastery. Students are able to articulate what they know through such an approach.

There are also an endless supply of games that can be modified to help with reviewing, for example

  • Jeopardy
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Monopoly
  • Bingo

This provides some basic ideas.


Since you say the syllabus is fairly wide but with significant overlap between areas, I would suggest doing an 'overview' session (or more than one) that pulls together the different topics in a different structure, showing the connections, now that the students know all the topics. That helps to give the students an idea of the whole, rather than just disconnected sections, and also serves as revision. Seeing ideas covered from a different viewpoint may also help some students who are struggling to understand one idea but are happy with a related idea from a different section.


The other answers provide some really good, tangible ideas, but I think sometimes it's good to change up not only what is done but how it's done. During pre-finals week I typically hold in-class review sessions but I also schedule a frisbee review session outdoors, outside of class.

Here, students can toss the disc with me and also ask questions in an informal way. Obviously frisbee doesn't have to do much with coursework, but this helps to break down the barrier between instructor and student. Students often don't expect to ever see their instructor in shorts and a backwards hat. This also helps involve marginal students that probably wouldn't come to an outside review session otherwise.

I've also watched World Cup games with students on campus as well, but it doesn't have to be frisbee or the the World Cup - the idea is to do something that the students like. It helps them feel more comfortable. Many students struggle with test anxiety, so helping students feel more at ease in itself can help them understand material better. Outside of class events give students more exposure to you, as the instructor, allowing them to ask more questions.

Simply goofing off outside of class is not meant to replace good, proven pedagogical techniques, of course. But I really think supplementing in-class sessions with fun, outside-of-class events legitimately helps students.

  • Added bonus: playing frisbee with students also boosts your rate-my-professor.com ratings
    – haff
    May 11, 2016 at 0:44
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    Is the frisbee-throwing an optional activity? As a student, I would have been super annoyed if I showed up to class one day (putting aside all the other things I could have been doing with that time) and the professor announced that we're going outside to play games.
    – ff524
    May 11, 2016 at 0:58
  • @ff524 I thought "outside was class" implied that this was completely optional
    – haff
    May 11, 2016 at 1:00

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