The Dilemma Game

This teaching method challenges students to taking various interests into consideration in order to solve dilemmas. 

A teaching method that is good to use for ethical and other dilemmas in which different variables play a role.

Activity goal
Activate prior knowledge | Assess | Exchange knowledge
In class
Hybrid | Offline | Online
< 30 minutes
Group size
Small | Medium | Large

Tricider, Mentimeter, flipover, sticky notes, markers

Step 1

Determine which dilemma the students will be solving and describe the interests or priorities that contribute to solving the dilemma. Second, divide the students into groups and decide which interests they will be defending. 

Step 2

Determine how much resources are available to solve the dilemma and clarify the constraints or priorities of these resources.

Step 3

Give the groups time to discuss how they would distribute the budget or rank the priorities and let them propose arguments for their decisions.

Step 4

Ask the students for their answers or let them enter a debate in which they defend their decision.

Step 5

Depending on your goals, you can wrap up the activity yourself or let the students share their learnings about this dilemma.

Variation 1

Have pairs of students divide up the budget or make a list of priorities to solve the dilemma.

Variation 2

If the dilemma is to be solved by settings priorities, use the online tool Tricider and have each student (group) rank the priorities, 

Variation 3

During the activity you bring in new information that compels the students to reconsider their decisions and/or arguments.


There are various interests involved in running a hospital. Various interest groups have a say in the division of budgets within a hospital. Students represent these different interest groups (works council, patient association, administrators, etc.) and try to reach a fair distribution of budgets through consultation.

Question: how do you divide your XXX euros to reach goal Y? Why do you choose this?

How do you distribute the budget among the departments and why do you make those choices?

Please consider the tools and materials mentioned here as suggestions. In many cases it’s possible to use alternative tools. Please turn to the Learning & Innovation team of your faculty (EUR or EMC) first to see which online and offline tools are available and how to apply them.



  • Flipover, sticky notes, pens, markers. Note every element on a flipchart. Students walk around and stick post-it notes or write their names next to the elements they select 

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