Minute Paper/Muddiest Point (online)
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Using Minute Paper or Muddiest Point activity to measure prior knowledge in an online course
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||Low|
|Student Activity Time||Low|
|Instructor Response Time||Medium|
|Complexity of Activity||Low|
Minute Paper/Muddiest Point has students write a quick response to a question to help instructors gain insight or understanding of content. Questions could include: “What was the most important thing you learned today?“; “What important question remains unanswered?”; or “What was the muddiest point in _______ ?”
Use it when you want...
- To facilitate students’ recall of content they have learned,
- To help them self-assess their understanding of the material,
- To focus, collect, and organize their thoughts around a topic before a discussion, or
- To discover which points students are having difficulty understanding to guide further instruction.
What students will need
- Laptop, or tablet, or mobile phone
- Resources for student access to computers
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Minute Paper/Muddiest Point active learning activity within an online learning environment.
- Identify a concept in a lecture, article, video, or a gap in knowledge identified through a prior activity (e.g., quiz or online discussion).
- Craft a question to which students will respond in class. The question should be difficult enough to elect careful thought or reflection, but not too difficult that the response would not fit on a half-sheet of paper. Try to answer the question yourself.
- Create a Zoom session in which the activity will take place.
- Direct students to the Zoom session during scheduled class time.
- Introduce the activity by presenting the question to which students will respond, and a due date for responses.
- Option 1: Send students to a shared Google Doc (one that does not require users to log in (to ensure anonymity). Tell students to use the Google Docs document to write their responses to the prompt.
- Option 2: Send students to a Google Form that does not require users to log in (to ensure anonymity). Tell students to use the Google Form to write their responses to the prompt.
- Let students know how much time they have to complete the activity (usually two to five minutes is sufficient). Explain the kind of answers you want (words, phrases, or short sentences), and how you will use the information, and when they can expect your feedback.
- Create a new Assignment in Canvas with a text entry submission type.
- In the activity description section, Introduce the activity by presenting the question to which students will respond.
- Let students know how much time they should take to complete the activity (usually two to five minutes is sufficient). Explain the kind of answers you want (words, phrases, or short sentences), and how you will use the information, and when they can expect your feedback.
- Upon completion of the activity, ask students to volunteer to share what they had written.
- Review the posts.
- Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting or write a summary of the results and post in Canvas.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- Be aware that some students might not have the bandwidth to participate in synchronous sessions. Make sure students turn off their cameras to reduce bandwidth. Students can also use the dial-in phone connection for audio, instead of their network connection.
- The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 148-158.