Would I lie to you? Checking knowledge in pre-reading, listening or watching tasks

Santanu Vasant

What is the idea?

Using the format of the BBC TV Quiz Show ‘Would I lie to you?’, this game involves students presenting either a right or wrong answer to a factual piece of information in the pre-reading, listening or watching given by the lecturer. The students work in groups to come up with right and wrong answers to materials and split into groups, they have to compete against each other to guess if the information they are being presented with by the opposing team is right or wrong. They get one point for each answer they get right.

Why this idea?

This idea of this format came from a true or false quiz activity in Barkley and Major (2020), it’s an active learning handbook entitled ‘Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty’. It’s a simple idea, yet a powerful one to engage students to pre-tasks, which academics often struggle with. It gives students a task to do in pre-session or pre-reading, listening or watching tasks and is an engaging way to get a group of students to think of right and wrong answers, which means they have to really engage with the material they have to learn. Through this gamification approach, there is an element of competition as well, that aids motivation. This is a fun way to mix up a seminar. As the teacher, you can then act more as a facilitator/observer during the session.

How could others implement this idea?

This idea would make a great seminar activity for a class of up to 40 students but is scalable using breakout rooms in webinar solutions. It’s all about making what is factual knowledge recall more engaging in an in-person or online setting, depending on your context.

These are the steps to take in implementing this activity:

  1. Find a relevant pre-teaching session text or video to read, listen to or watch. Not too long or short, it must be accessible based on the level of the undergraduate or postgraduate course and your students. Everyone in the cohort sees this material.
  2. Ask students to read the text, listen or watch the video.
  3. In pre-assigned groups get them to write right and wrong statements for a piece of factual knowledge in the pre-watching, listening or reading material. They can do this in a shared document, over Microsoft Teams to collaborate together outside of the teaching session.
  4. Ask them to send you their right and wrong statements on the pre-reading per group. This is so you can check.
  5. Instruct the students to make the right or wrong statements that are as difficult as possible and get them to be as believable when presenting their answers to the opposite team.
  6. Split the class so that two groups go off into break out rooms either physically or virtually.
  7. Get one person to be the host if you don’t have a graduate assistant(s) or other members of staff to assist.
  8. The host asks a member of the team to go first, the member reads their statement, the other team has to guess if this is true or false. You could get them to say why it’s true or false, adding to a greater level of knowledge acquisition.
  9. Asks the ‘hosts’ to keep a tab of the points.
  10. Consider offering a small prize to the winning team.

Transferability to different contexts

This activity is relevant to any academic, in any subject where there are definite answers or knowledge to recall. Whilst not a higher level of knowledge application, it would particularly suit first-year undergraduate students, as you want them to really have a grasp of the key knowledge in your discipline before they move onto the more advanced applications of knowledge.

This activity also builds collaborative working into a light-hearted task, which can be used to build onto more serious group work tasks that might be assessed, so is also a good entry-level collaborative working task.

If you have the physical space, you can use different classrooms, or a big classroom and have groups in the corners of the room. If you did this in a virtual space, then breakout rooms in a webinar platform would be ideal, to give time for the group to interact. These can be either Microsoft Team, Zoom or similar platform. This is particularly important in large cohorts of students, where a task such as this would allow everyone to participate and feel part of a group.

Links to tools and resources

In addition to using a webinar platform such as Microsoft Team or Zoom, students can use Google Docs or Microsoft Word online as a shared document for writing down their questions prior to one of the group sending to the teacher.

To aid students writing right and wrong answers, this Vanderbilt University on writing good multiple choice questions is useful (Brame, 2013): https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/writing-good-multiple-choice-test-questions/.


Barkley, E. F., & Major, C.H. (2020). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. Jossey-Bass.

Brame, C. (2013) Writing good multiple choice test questions. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/writing-good-multiple-choice-test-questions/.

About the author

Santanu Vasant is an Educational Developer at the University of the Arts London with over 16 years of experience in teaching and academic staff development and 5 in senior management roles. He specialises in the design of physical and virtual learning spaces. He has a BSc (Hons) in Multimedia Technology and Design and a Masters in Education from UCL’s Institute of Education. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

100 Ideas for Active Learning Copyright © 2022 by Santanu Vasant is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Share This Book