Do you sometimes walk out of the classroom wondering if your students had any idea what you were talking about for the past 50 minutes?
Minute Papers provide a quick and easy formative assessment technique for checking student progress, as they help you to gage students’ understanding of and reaction to specific course material.
After a lecture or lesson, pose a single question (either specific or open-ended), and give students one or two minutes to write a response. Some sample questions include, “How does John Hospers define ‘free will’?” “What is ‘scientific realism’?” “What is the activation energy for a chemical reaction?” “What is the difference between replication and transcription?” and so on. Another good use of the minute paper is to ask questions like, “What was the main point of today’s class material?” This tells you whether or not students are viewing the material in the way you envisioned.
“Muddiest or Clearest Point” papers, a variation on Minute Papers, ask (often at the end of a class period), “What was the ‘muddiest point’ in today’s lecture?” or, perhaps, you might be more specific, asking, for example, “What (if anything) do you find unclear about the concept of ‘personal identity’?”
This very brief assessment technique can tell you if students are grasping ideas or are way off the mark. The results are immediate, making it possible for you to identify the problem, revise your material, and then reteach it the very next class.
- “Minute Paper” —Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross, from Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd edition, p. 148-153
- Minute Paper—University of Nebraska Lincoln
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