It can be frustrating for college professors when their students do not interact with each other or actively participate in class. One way in improve this is to do an “ice-breaker” activity on the first day of class. “Ice breakers,” according to Virgil E. Varvel Jr. of the University of Illinois, “are activities or modes of discussion used to help individuals ease into a group setting. Consider a few activities that will go beyond a round-the-room introduction.

One Interesting Fact

Instruct students to take five minutes to walk around the room and introduce themselves to at least three people and learn the following information about each person: What is the person’s name? Where is he or she from? What is his or her major? What is one interesting fact about the person? When the five minutes are up, begin randomly calling on students to introduce one of the people they met to the rest of the class. This activity frequently produces humorous results.

Two Truths and a Lie

Have students write down two less obvious facts about themselves, and one lie. These statements do not need to be elaborate and can be as simple as, “I am allergic to cats,” or “I love fishing.” Go around the room and ask each student to read his facts. The rest of the class will determine which statement is the lie. Ask the class to vote on which is the lie. For the sake of conversation, you can ask random students why they think a particular statement is fact or fiction. This activity gets students really thinking about each other, so they are likely to remember some of the facts.

Most Embarrassing Story

This ice-breaker works particularly well in public speaking classes or classes where the students will give many presentations. Before the conclusion of the first class meeting, assign students to be prepared to tell the class their most embarrassing story at the next meeting. The premise for this ice breaker is that if students can tell their classmates their most embarrassing stories, they can tell them anything.

Whodunit?

Suggested by Icebreakers.ws, this is another activity that will help the class learn interesting facts about each other. Pass out index cards and markers to each member of the class. Instruct each class member to write down something interesting that he has done. Take the cards back up, shuffle, and redistribute. Next, go around the room having each student read out the card that is in his hands. That person will then guess whose card he is holding.