Playing physics Jeopardy

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Citation: Alan van Heuvelen, David P. Maloney (1999) Playing physics Jeopardy. American Journal of Physics, Vol. 67, No. 3, pp. 252-256 (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1119/1.19233
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1119/1.19233
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1119/1.19233
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Playing physics Jeopardy
Download: s1
Tagged: Educational aids (RSS), teaching (RSS), games of skill (RSS)


This format of giving answers and asking students to come up with appropriate questions is based on the popular game show called Jeopardy. The paper lists five strengths of this format:

  • The use of formulae, plug-and-chug and problem-solving methods are inefficient in solving this format of problems. Students have to be able to visualise the process of the different components in the given equation/graph/diagram, understand their relationship to each other and apply the underlying concepts in order to be able to frame the question. In short, these questions assess people with different learning styles
  • The units used play a significant role in the process of analysis
  • Since students have to understand the significance of each representation they are now able to transform the representations
  • Such questions are easy to create by the teacher
  • Easily integrated into tests, quizzes, assignments, group activities, homeworks etc..

The weaknesses of this method as mentioned by the authors are:

  • Unlike other types of questions, the student needs a lot of practice in order to be able to attempt jeopardy-type questions.
  • Assessments or Grading can be a tricky issue, since it involves multiple representations, which are rare in traditional problems.
  • These assessment types are more time consuming for the student too, as opposed to standard back-of-the-chapter problems.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Forces students to think about the concepts and gain a strong understanding. A qualitative grading method would be appropriate for this format.

Example: This phenomenon is caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere. -- What is Aurora Borealis?

Grading criteria of jeopardy-type question format
Ability/Competency F D C B A
Students must be able to break the given equation/graph/diagram into its constituents, analyse their relationship and units applied, transform their representations and obtain the intended question. Student is unable to analyse the given equation/graph/diagram Student able to identify constituent components and give meaning to them Student able to analyse relationships of constituent components w.r.t. units applied and relate them to their respective underlying concepts Student able to construct question partially or all parts of the required question are not given Student able to construct required question