Title

"The Alpha Beta Game: An Interactive Teaching Tool for Learning About Ingroup-Outgroup Bias"

Topic

Innovative Teaching Strategies, Global Learning, First-Year Experience

Panel Title

Strategies for Effective Teaching

Session Abstract

This presentation will focus on the Alpha Beta Game, an interactive class activity that seeks to demonstrate how ingroup and outgroup biases develop. The notion of ingroup-outgroup bias is commonly discussed at Winthrop University in the “HXMP 102: The Human Experience” course via an article by David G. Myers originally included in the HMXP 102 course reader, so the Alpha Beta game can be particularly useful as a class exercise in the HMXP course, or any course that touches upon the concept of ingroup-group bias. The game itself, which was first developed a number of years ago by Dr. Roger Baumgarte (former professor of psychology and chairman of the Department of Psychology at Winthrop University), is an interactive group activity that can be played with virtually any numbers of students. It involves dividing the class in half, with each group receiving a specific set of instructions for how to interact with one another using a deck of cards. The key to this game is that the two groups are instructed to behave in ways that are completely opposite of one another: The Alpha group is instructed to share their cards and treat one another with affection and friendliness, and the Beta group is instructed to hoard their cards individually and to treat one another with sternness and a business-like demeanor. Once each group has mastered the rules of their own “community”, they are instructed to send emissaries to visit the other group, observing the interactions of the players and attempting to learn the other group’s rules. The exercise culminates in the class coming back together to discuss their experiences and describe both their own culture’s characteristics, as well as the characteristics of the other group. Inevitably, each group describes themselves in positive terms, while describing the other group using negative terms. By participating in this game and discussing the resulting positive and negative feelings that are generated between the two groups, students learn how easily ingroup-outgroup bias can develop between two cultures that may be operating with different rules or norms, even in an activity as simple as a card game.

My presentation will provide participants with a brief explanation of the game, including copies of the handouts that are given to students in the Alpha and Beta groups. A set of guidelines for the instructor explaining how to facilitate the discussion that follows the game will also be provided (electronic copies of these documents will be uploaded prior to the conference). Additional anecdotes illustrating the effectiveness of this game in teaching ingroup-outgroup bias will also be presented. It is important to note that the proposed presentation is a repeat of a similar presentation that I originally gave at a Winthrop TLC Conference several years ago. Given the ongoing importance of multicultural understanding and the need to overcome cultural biases whenever possible, I feel that presenting this activity once again as an effective teaching tool is both timely and extremely useful for our current times.

Keywords

Ingroup-Outgroup Bias, Multiculturalism

Location

West Center 219

Start Date

24-3-2017 1:00 PM

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Mar 24th, 1:00 PM Mar 24th, 2:00 PM

"The Alpha Beta Game: An Interactive Teaching Tool for Learning About Ingroup-Outgroup Bias"

West Center 219

This presentation will focus on the Alpha Beta Game, an interactive class activity that seeks to demonstrate how ingroup and outgroup biases develop. The notion of ingroup-outgroup bias is commonly discussed at Winthrop University in the “HXMP 102: The Human Experience” course via an article by David G. Myers originally included in the HMXP 102 course reader, so the Alpha Beta game can be particularly useful as a class exercise in the HMXP course, or any course that touches upon the concept of ingroup-group bias. The game itself, which was first developed a number of years ago by Dr. Roger Baumgarte (former professor of psychology and chairman of the Department of Psychology at Winthrop University), is an interactive group activity that can be played with virtually any numbers of students. It involves dividing the class in half, with each group receiving a specific set of instructions for how to interact with one another using a deck of cards. The key to this game is that the two groups are instructed to behave in ways that are completely opposite of one another: The Alpha group is instructed to share their cards and treat one another with affection and friendliness, and the Beta group is instructed to hoard their cards individually and to treat one another with sternness and a business-like demeanor. Once each group has mastered the rules of their own “community”, they are instructed to send emissaries to visit the other group, observing the interactions of the players and attempting to learn the other group’s rules. The exercise culminates in the class coming back together to discuss their experiences and describe both their own culture’s characteristics, as well as the characteristics of the other group. Inevitably, each group describes themselves in positive terms, while describing the other group using negative terms. By participating in this game and discussing the resulting positive and negative feelings that are generated between the two groups, students learn how easily ingroup-outgroup bias can develop between two cultures that may be operating with different rules or norms, even in an activity as simple as a card game.

My presentation will provide participants with a brief explanation of the game, including copies of the handouts that are given to students in the Alpha and Beta groups. A set of guidelines for the instructor explaining how to facilitate the discussion that follows the game will also be provided (electronic copies of these documents will be uploaded prior to the conference). Additional anecdotes illustrating the effectiveness of this game in teaching ingroup-outgroup bias will also be presented. It is important to note that the proposed presentation is a repeat of a similar presentation that I originally gave at a Winthrop TLC Conference several years ago. Given the ongoing importance of multicultural understanding and the need to overcome cultural biases whenever possible, I feel that presenting this activity once again as an effective teaching tool is both timely and extremely useful for our current times.