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Two-Minute Question-Development Talks

Using the Two-Minute Question Development Talk technique to measure prior learning
Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time Low
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Low
Complexity of Activity Low
Room Considerations None


Two-minute Question-Development Talks are activities in which student pairs share responses to two questions related to their out-of-class assignments: What was the main thing you learned from the assignment? and What questions do you have after completing the assignment? In pairs, students develop a single question about the assignment. The instructor then takes time to answer some of the questions from the class. This activity replaces the common act of starting the lecture with the "Does anyone have any questions about the assignment? practice in that it creates a space for students to reflect and craft questions in a less risky manner. 


Use it when you want...

  • Students to reflect and recall knowledge learned from pre-class activities
  • Students to focus their attention at the beginning of class
  • Students to have time to construct questions in a focused manner.
  • Students to have a way of socializing their questions with a peer prior to asking them.
  • Students to see what areas about which other students have questions.
  • To know the areas of knowledge around which students have questions.

What students will need

  • A smartphone or laptop.


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Two-Minute Question-Development Talk learning activity within a classroom.


  • Reflect on an assignment that would benefit from time spent answering questions from students.
  • Determine the amount of time students will work in pairs and how or if you will manage that process.
  • Determine whether or how you will have students report their results. 
  • Determine whether and how you will collect the questions that each pair developed.
  • Create an anonymous Top Hat Discussion question for students to submit their results.
  • Provide an example of a typical question a student may have had after this activity.

Example Top-Hat Discussion Type Question:


A) What was the main thing you learned from the assignment?
B) What questions do you have after completing the assignment?

Label your responses with an (A) or (B) in front of each response. 

A) I appreciated the role soil pH plays in microbial activity — that microbes have their own preferred pH ranges for optimal growth and activity — and how extremes in pH levels can inhibit microbial populates, thus affecting nutrient cycling processes
B: I didn't understand the role soil texture played in holding essential nutrients.


  • Tell students to take a few moments in pairs to draft questions related to the specific assignment.
  • Share an example of a question a student might have after completing the assignment. Give students two minutes to discuss their answers with their partners.
  • After sharing their responses to the two questions, give them two minutes to craft their shared question.
  • Use Top Hat for students to submit their shared student questions.
  • Communicate that the questions submitted are anonymous and meant to help students ask questions in a safe manner.
  • Review question submission from Top Hat. Select a few to respond to. Remind students of the value of asking for clarification on the content covered in the assignment. Make connections between the content being covered through the activity and the content being covered in the lecture.
  • If there are more questions than there is time to answer, tell them you or your teaching assistant will post responses in Canvas after class.


  • Have the teaching assistant review the questions and respond to them in a timely manner.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documentation


Example 1

An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology instructor wants students to reflect on an important reading assignment on the concept of culture. He sets aside fifteen minutes of class time to facilitate questions. He has students pair up and spend two minutes each summarizing what they knew about the topic of culture from the reading. He also asked them to develop a question about the reading.  He has them submit their shared question on an index card he provided. He collects the cards and with the remaining time, he answers a few questions. He tells them that answers to the remaining questions will be made available via Canvas. (Barkley 210).

Example 2

In the Business Computer Systems course, students focus on computer hardware and software concepts. The course meetings for one hour of large lecture per week and three hours of lecture-lab (lecture-lab sections have about twenty-five students per section). The professor uses a textbook and assigns a chapter prior to each course session. At the start of the class, he asks students to pair up, take a minute to exchange ideas about the main point of the reading, and develop one question together. He asks students to submit their questions through a Top Hat question. He reviews the submissions and selects a few to answer. (Barkley 210).


Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2018). Interactive lecturing: A handbook for college faculty. John Wiley & Sons, 209-211.

Keywordsprepare, lecture, application, knowledge, reflection, collaboration, questions, assignment, outcomes, learning, large course, large lecture, large enrollment, pedagogy, lecture hall, large classroomDoc ID128237
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2023-05-11 12:27 CSTUpdated2023-08-16 08:10 CST
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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