International Surprises Game

Sally Brown, Emerita Professor, Leeds Beckett University, UK

Ingredients (any equipment or supplies needed for the activity)

This game is designed to enable any number of participants over around 12 to share understandings of some of the strangeness and alienation international academics experience when studying/ working away from their home nations.

What you will need:

  • Cards or paper slips sufficient for everyone to have all of them, which respectively say:
    1. ‘I am surprised when international students.....’
    2. ‘Teaching away from my home country I was surprised when…’
    3. ‘International students tell me they are surprised in a Teaching, Learning and Assessment context when....’
    4. ‘My international colleagues find the most surprising thing about teaching, learning and assessment here is....’
    5. ‘My university systems find it difficult to cope with international students when...’
  • Flip chart paper and pens and/or mobile phones.

Method (what you do)

  • Working in small groups, each person in turn takes one of the slips and completes the sentence.
  • Others in the group then give their responses to the same question (it isn’t necessary for everyone to respond, but all in the group should contribute to the discussion) and the output should be a suggested action listed on a flip chart or as a Tweet to #Internationalsuprisesgame
  • As time permits, the groups should address as many of the slips as possible.
  • In plenary, the convenor should ask groups to share some of the resolutions/ actions proposed. Participants can be invited to see what others have suggested via the hash tag


Brown, S. and Joughin, G.R. (2007) Assessment and international students: helping clarify puzzling processes, In E. Jones & S. Brown (Eds.), Internationalising Higher Education (pp. 57-71). London: Routledge.

Brown, S. (2015) Learning, Teaching and Assessment in Higher Education: Global perspectives, London, Palgrave.

Hosein, A., Rao N., Kinchin I., and Yeh C. S.-H. (due June 2018) Academics’ International Teaching Journeys: Personal Narratives of Transitions in Higher Education, London: Bloomsbury.

Killick,. D. (2016) Internationalization and Diversity in Higher Education: Implications for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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