46 Activities to Check Learner Comprehension

There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are at least 46 ways to check learner comprehension. These fall into one of five general categories of highly experiential learning activities: (1) Paper-Based, (2) Spoken Word-Based, (3) Materials-Based, (4) Games-Based, or (5) Movement-Based. Some of the activities skim the surface of learner comprehension, while others require much deeper thought.

All of these activities can also be used at the close of any training module to check learner comprehension. However, the purpose of these activities is to make sure that the learners leave a training session with a good understanding of the content that was taught. Hopefully, the learners have been given the opportunity to test their new knowledge or skills in application exercises during the training session. The activities identified here are intended to close a module or a training session on a high, content-centered note.

With only a few exceptions, these learning activities are completely self-directed. This means that the facilitator simply provides the necessary instructions and materials, and then gets out of the participants’ way.

The facilitator will need to allocate from 10 to 50 minutes for these activities. The activities can be structured for pairs, small groups or the entire group. A few of the activities can be structured for individuals to work independently.

Whenever possible, have the participants write or draw on flip chart paper that can be posted for everyone to see. For activities that do not involve everyone, remember to save time for report outs to the rest of the group.

Take digital photos of the results of these activities to mail to the participants after the class to reinforce their learning.

Paper-Based Closing Activities

Paper-based activities include writing, drawing and graphing out ideas. These activities require either writing paper or flip chart paper, pens, pens, crayons or colored markers.

ABC: Fill in a content-related word or a phrase that starts with each letter of the alphabet.

Drawing: Identify five or six key learning points and then draw a picture of them on a flip chart. The picture may be representational or abstract, with words or phrases.

Slogan: Come up with a 6-8 word saying or catch phrase that captures the essence of what they have learned.

Metaphor: Identify a metaphor for what they learned that day.

Word Cross: Write the title of the training session in the middle of a flip chart paper, then add content-related words that build on the letters on the page to create a cross word-like diagram.

Equation: Create a mathematical equation that summarizes the key content.

Haiku: Write a brief poem.

Mind Map: Depict their key learning in a mind map.

Ring Around the Learning Objectives: Write down each learning objective, leaving sufficient space to add related key words and phrases around each objective.

Flow Chart: Graph out the sequence of steps, topics or decisions.

Cartoon: Draw a cartoon that depicts what they learned.

Graffiti: Write key learning and/or draw pictures on a long piece of paper taped to the wall.

Acronym: Create a word from the first letter of content-related words.

Reminder Card: Write key points to remember on a card small enough to go into a wallet.

Questionnaire: Answer content-related questions using multiple choice or fill in the blanks.

Spoken Word-Based Closing Activities

Spoken word-based activities include verbally expressing ideas through reports, theatre or song. Although movement is frequently involved, the primary delivery of ideas is through spoken words.

Key Take-Away: Stand and report their key take-away from the session.

Paired Instruction: Pair up and explain to their partner the key learning from the day, as if their partner had not been at the session. Each participant will have 5 minutes to talk.

Stations: Stand at assigned different stations that represent a key topic from the day and explain the major points in 2 minutes.

Radio Commercial: Create and present a commercial selling the key learning.

Skit: Act out the key learning in a humorous fashion: what to do and what not to do.

Song: Speak or sing the lyrics to a song that captures the essence of what has been learned.

Key Concept Briefing: When called on by the facilitator, stand up and provide a 2- minute briefing for a key concept that the facilitator selects at random.

Verbal Relay: Stand in parallel lines facing each other, taking turns to report one key concept and/or build on what someone else has said.

Materials-Based Closing Activities

Materials-based activities are distinguished from the other closing activities by the fact that materials are used to summarize, represent or depict ideas. These activities require objects, art materials, and/or building materials. They result in products that can be photographed and, in some cases, taken back to work as a reminder of the class.

Quilt: Write key learning on small construction paper squares and state what is written as they paste them onto a flip chart or foam board.

Puzzle: Select the most important learning points from a roll of labels with different learning points on them. Place each selected label on a puzzle piece and then create a puzzle (which can be free form or pre-designed).

Tinker Toys: Build something with Tinker Toys that represents key learning.

Totem: Select an item from a bag of miscellaneous items and explain how it captures the essence of what has been learned.

Beach Ball: Stand and throw a beach ball that has different content-related questions written on different sections. Answer the question that faces the participant.

Collage: Create a collage depicting key concepts using pictures already cut from magazines.

Building Blocks: Explain the stages involved in a learned process, using blocks to represent each stage.

Merry-Go-Round: Create a Tinker Toy merry-go-round and explain what concept each colored piece represents and how the concepts relate to each other.

Games-Based Closing Activities

Games-based activities include competition between table groups or teams to answer content questions and win by accruing the most points or completing the game first.

Grab the Koosh: Take turns quizzing other participants on the content. Participants who grab the Koosh (or another object) from the middle of the table and correctly answer the question get points.

Board Game: Compete in teams to throw dice and take turns answering prepared content cards in order to move around the board. Use a bingo board or create a simple game board modeled on Candy Land or Life.

Jeopardy: Compete in teams to answer questions in specific content categories on a real or a PowerPoint Jeopardy game board.

Competitive Brainstorming: Compete in table groups against each other and the clock to come up with the best responses to a content question.

Relay Race: Compete in teams to add content-related words or phrases that begin with each letter of the training program’s title.

Envelope Pass: Compete in teams to identify the most useful solutions to content problems written on different envelopes.

Movement-Based Closing Activities

Movement-based activities generally require that the participants get up and move around in order to complete them. These activities may involve standing, walking or running.

Scavenger Hunt: Talk with different participants to complete a worksheet identifying how each plans to incorporate what they learned into their daily work activities.

Charade: Act out key learning concepts.

Gallery Walk: Walk from flip chart to flip chart (each titled with a different key learning point or training topic covered that day) and write do’s and don’ts, or tips, or action items.

Rotating Flip Charts: After a gallery walk, the groups review each other’s flip chart answers and make additions or revisions to what was written.

Pop Up: Stand up to respond to a content question.

Signal Answers: Signal answers to multiple choice questions with the fingers of one hand, signal answers to indicate agreement by raising a hand, and signal answers to yes or no questions by pointing the thumb up for yes or down for no.

Snow Ball Toss: Write an issue on a piece of paper, scrunch it up and throw it in the air, for others to find and respond to the issue.

Pop the Balloon: Write an issue on a piece of paper, roll it up and insert it into a balloon. Blow up and tie the balloon, then keep the balloons up in the air until the music stops. Grab a balloon, stomp on it, and respond to the issue.

Walk About: Join with another person and walk together for a few minutes, sharing how each plans to use what has been learned.