As the Fall term approaches, you’re getting ready to welcome a new set of students into your classroom. To foster lively discussion and interaction throughout the course of the term, it can help to devote time at the beginning of class to activities that encourage students to engage with, and become familiar with, one another.

Below, we’ve shared three icebreakers for college courses. These enjoyable activities can help your students get acquainted, while also learning valuable student success skills, as well as important information about your course.

Three Great Icebreakers for College Courses

Syllabus Quiz
Create a quiz on your syllabus (ex. “The first assignment is due on _____” or “The final exam counts as ___% of my final grade”). Have students work in pairs or small groups to answer the questions. You can then review the questions as a large group or just ask students if they have questions about the syllabus.
(Harrington Instructor’s Manual, 5)

Plagiarism and Cheating
Students need help understanding these concepts. Have students pair up and come up with their own definition of these terms and then have them identify examples of each. The examples can be shared and discussed with the entire class. Students can compare their definitions to those described in the book. (Harrington Instructor’s Manual, 9)

Class Summaries
At several points throughout the class (every 15-30 minutes), stop and ask students to write a brief summary of what they learned so far. Do not allow them to use any course materials—it is a retrieval exercise. They can then share this with a partner. Give students an opportunity to ask questions about concepts that are not clear. Discuss how students can build in these mini-reviews into their routine as they read and study at home. (Harrington Instructor’s Manual, 28-29)


Reference: Harrington, Christine. 2016. Instructor’s Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

© 2016 Cengage Learning.


Looking for additional ways to engage your students at the beginning of the year? Review our previous posts on icebreakers for college courses. Share your own favorite icebreakers in the comments!