Assemble your group in front of you, perhaps in a circle.
Announce to your group that during the course of the experience, you observed a prescribed number of significant events or interactions.
Challenge your group review the experience in their minds, with a view to identifying all of the events.
If necessary, ask questions to guide your group’s enquiry.
Video Transcript for Memory Game Debrief
presented by Mark Collard
I’ve got a question for you. As I was observing the process of each of your two groups solving this problem I identified three critical junctures that were significant in the life of solving this problem, things that were very very important that either propelled you forward successfully or perhaps even got in the way of your success.
Three critical moments. What were they?
Help me out. Think back. Review the tape in your own mind. Oh, basically you’re asking the question what did Mark see. Think back to your own process. What might I have seen that I believed to be significant about your process? Not about the task, about your process. What might it have been? Yes.
(The point with our group, the point when we completed it and then we were prompted to discuss amongst ourselves, make sure all of us had understood how we’d done it, and then even when we were about to do it we were still having some glitches because we actually had… we were still all figuring it out by doing it the second time.)
Great. And in the context of cooperative learning one of the key elements of cooperative learning is individual accountability. It’s not enough that other people in your group know the answer and therefore everyone knows it because that’s not true. It’s important that anyone randomly could be asked for the answer and can be individually accountable for it. And that was the process that your group went through. Terrific. Great. One. Todd.
(I think with our group we had a bit of a hesitation because we very liberal thinkers so we were thinking to ourselves well, we can’t do it this way, we don’t have the physical attributes to do it this way, so we were stuck on the I guess the point of doing it right but not necessarily having a go. So we were more afraid of failure then having a go.)
Fantastic, thank you. Good challenge. Good point. A couple more.
(I think it’s really important. Like with our group we all came up with certain ideas, but we all listened to each other and then cooperated. We all had different ideas but then cooperated. We came up with a solution.)
(So… but looking at the other group, just observing the other group it’s interesting how you know sometimes you get stuck in not being able to go over that because culturally, size, or whatever. Sometimes it’s about looking at the bigger picture. But again the rules you start to think well, hold on a minute, are we allowed to do that? So the rules sometimes get in the way…)
Or… Go ahead.
(So it’s about trying to think outside the square and how you can do it.)
And part of that is actually the process of identifying what is the actual problem. What is the actual problem we’re trying to solve? We spend a lot of time in our curriculum, both in school and out of school developing what’s called problem-solving skills. So I guarantee any interpersonal or PDS program has that somewhere stuck within the curriculum framework, the boxes to be ticked, problem solving.
That’s only half the equation. We don’t spend enough time in problem identifying because sometimes we actually solve the wrong problem. So identifying the problem is equally as important as how we go about solving it, and important in fact that if you solve the wrong one you would argue that maybe the identification is more important.
(One of our members actually just said look, my foot and when he sat down and we were like… we just accepted that. We didn’t even think to try out of the box to be like no, you can still be included, we’ll fudge the rules and we’ll pretend to carry you just so you can still be included. We just kind of accepted it, and I don’t know, in a way that wasn’t… we weren’t excluding you but we were letting you…)
(We did let you come up with some ideas.)
(Yeah, yeah …)
And we do that a lot as human beings. We not necessarily devalue others but we devalue ourselves more often than not. It can be us for whatever reason that pulls back thinking that I’m not good at this or I’ve never been able to do that and we pull ourselves back or the group makes that decision for us.
That could be a really pivotal point in the dynamism of a group is that they are actually able take that on. That becomes a group problem not an individual problem for the group to be able to solve. How can we embrace difference in this group? And nutting out what the problem was can really help us to do that. So good identification.
One more? What were one of those other critical points that was something I might have observed in what you were doing. This is not a test. I’m just interested to know what you might have observed.
(I found out…)
(… because we did discuss it first and then some people got it straight away, some didn’t. But then when we actually did it whether we failed or not, that just really helped.)
Great. So trial and error. You can plan until the cows come over here, but no one is going to be successful. You might have the best plan in the world but until you actually execute it you’re not going to know that it’s going to work.
And there’s a lot of ‘oh but that won’t work.’ Do we know that? Where’s the evidence? So yes, trial and error.
How To Play Narrative
This debriefing technique is so simple, yet so powerful. It is akin to a guessing game, where the group keeps thinking until they get all of the answers.
Start by gathering your group, perhaps in a circle, shortly after a shared experience. Announce to everyone that you observed a prescribed number of interactions or events which you believe to be important or significant to explore and discuss in further detail.
Next, challenge your group to think back over the experience, and recount what those events might be, one by one, until all of them have been identified.
Naturally, as each observation is identified, ask the group to explain why you might have labelled it significant. This will push the group to reflect and think more deeply, and beyond the obvious. It’s almost as if you are asking the group to imagine what you could be thinking.
On occasions, you may find it useful to ask a few guiding questions to prompt your group to discover some of your less-than-evident observations.
Practical Leadership Tips
Take a look at Useful Debriefing Tips to learn about the benefits of processing your group’s experience, and how to run a successful debrief.
More often than not, the group will identify many more observations than you have thought of. To this end, perhaps nominate a number greater than the tally of observations you actually made.
To be honest, I often rely on this strategy if I’m not quite sure what the group experienced. This way, the group informs me what they thought I might have considered important, ie they do the work for me.
You could integrate Memory Game Debrief as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand their emotions, thoughts and values and how these influence behaviours in different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of engaging in a period of self-reflection.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to successfully recall events and interactions may speak to the benefits of being mindful and reflect some level of accountability in the group. For example, the effort to view one’s interactions through the eyes of another (you, the facilitator) may lead some people to acknowledge the impact of their actions on others.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Memory Game Debrief could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Combine Strategies: Utilise the Whip Around technique to invite a response from everyone in your group.
Memory Game Debrief Flip Cards: Write your observations on an index card, turn them face-down and flip them over when the group correctly identifies one of the observations.
Provided you have observed your group at all times during their interactions (ie they were not divided into breakout rooms,) you can easily lead a conversation in which you task your group to nominate all of the events you identified as significant. This can be facilitated with people speaking to their webcams or via the chatroom if you feel that some people may feel more comfortable sharing in this environment.
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Useful Framing Ideas
It may sound like…
“OVER THE COURSE OF THE ACTIVITY, I OBSERVED FIVE KEY EVENTS THAT I BELIEVE WERE SIGNIFICANT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR GROUP. IN ANY ORDER, CAN YOU THINK OF WHAT THESE EVENTS MIGHT BE…?”
“DURING THIS LAST EXERCISE, I NOTICED THREE INTERACTIONS WHICH I THOUGHT WERE WONDERFUL EXAMPLES OF LEADERSHIP. AS A GROUP, I’D LIKE YOU TO THINK BACK OVER WHAT HAPPENED AND IDENTIFY WHAT THESE INTERACTIONS WERE…”
The inspiration for Memory Game Debrief was sourced from a momentary lapse in concentration when I forgot what strategy I had planned to use with my group.