23 Deductive Reasoning Murder Mystery

Arley Cruthers

Activity Guidelines

Suggested Course Level

Upper level undergraduate

Activity Purpose

  • Students will understand deductive reasoning and how to build a syllogism.
  • Students will use this to analyze their research data to come up with recommendations for a recommendation report.

Materials Required

  • Murder mystery game. There are lots of free 30-minute murder mystery games online. Though the price has gone up dramatically since I bought the game, I used the website Playing With Murder to buy a murder mystery tailored to classroom use. You can also find these very cheaply at thrift stores.
  • I also bring a small prize for each of the “actors” and sometimes given a CMNS 3000 Academy Award to the student who gets into their role the most (the class decides).

Activity Instructions

  1. Print off the murder mystery game.
  2. Begin the lesson by discussing inductive and deductive reasoning, and identifying when you would use each type.
  3. Ask for volunteers to play the different roles in the murder mystery. The one that I use is played in 3 short rounds. I encourage students to get into the roles by giving a CMNS 3000 Academy Award to the actor who gave their all to the role (students vote).
  4. Sit students in a circle and ask them to take notes on what the characters reveal.
  5. Explain the rules of the murder mystery. Audience members can ask questions after each round.
  6. At the end of the activity, ask students to write a deductive reasoning syllogism identifying the murderer. For example, a student might write “If the murderer had a key to the house and only family members had house keys and Bob is the only family member without an alibi, then Bob is the murderer.”
  7. Students can hand in their proof for participation marks. Stress that it’s not just about identifying the murderer, but laying out the syllogism.
  8. After the game is over, ask students to create a syllogism using their research data.

Debrief Questions / Activities

  • How did the syllogism help you solve the murder?
  • What was the hardest part of the activity?
  • How did the syllogism help you test your theory?
  • How can you use a syllogism in analyzing your research?

Tags: research and documentation, analysis, hands-on, whole class, game, deductive reasoning, logic, syllogism, ice breaker


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