This exercise was designed to facilitate student introductions while simultaneously illustrating the fallibility of first impressions. Instead of interviewing a classmate (as they might expect based on icebreaker activities in previous classes), each student is asked to silently write answers to 20 questions about another student, drawing only from perceptions.
Since students are often uncomfortable with having to make judgments about someone, the exercise can be a springboard to an engaging follow-up discussion about the efficacy of stereotyping and social perception.
*Note that this exercise is effective only when the students don’t know each other—for example, as an icebreaker activity during the first class meeting of a new semester.*
Document includes instructions and discussion questions, a "20 Perceptions" Questionnaire, and an abbreviated "10 Perceptions" Questionnaire for shorter class periods or for teachers who wish to devote less time to the exercise.