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 where student pairs share responses to two questions related to their out-of-class assignments: What was the main thing you learned from the assignment? 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 question, "Does anyone have any questions about the assignment? 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 before asking them.
  • Students to see what areas other students have questions about.
  • To know the areas of knowledge around which students have questions.

What students will need

  • A smartphone or laptop.


The following workflow is meant to guide how to 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 how long 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 soil texture's role in holding essential nutrients.


  • Tell students to take a few moments in pairs to draft questions about 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 safely ask questions.
  • 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 covered through the activity and the content 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 promptly.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documentation


Example 1

An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology instructor wanted students to reflect on an important reading assignment on the concept of culture. He set aside fifteen minutes of class time to facilitate questions. He had 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 had them submit their shared question on an index card he provided. He collected the cards, and with the remaining time, he answered a few questions. He told them that answers to the remaining questions would be available via Canvas. (Barkley 210).

Example 2

Students in the Business Computer Systems course focused on computer hardware and software concepts. The course consisted of 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 used a textbook and assigned a chapter before each course session. At the start of the class, he asked students to pair up, take a minute to exchange ideas about the main point of the reading and develop one question together. He asked students to submit their questions through a Top Hat question. He reviewed the submissions and selected 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 12:27:09Updated2023-12-27 12:51:49
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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