Minute Paper / Muddiest Point

Active learning

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Using Minute Paper or Muddiest Point activity to measure prior knowledge in a classroom

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

  • No special requirements for this approach. 


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Minute Paper/Muddiest Point active learning activity within a classroom.


  • 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.
  • Decide when the activity will take place (beginning, middle, or end of the class).
  • Plan to set aside five to ten minutes of class for this activity, as well as time later to discuss the results.


  • Introduce the activity by presenting the question to which students will respond.
  • 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), how you will use the information, and when they can expect your feedback.


  • If collected, review papers.
  • Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting. 

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documents

  • None


Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 148-158.

See Also:

Keywords:minute paper, muddiest point, active learning, prior knowledge, classroom pk   Doc ID:104087
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2020-07-16 16:22 CDTUpdated:2023-07-19 08:59 CDT
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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