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Teaching Tip | Teaching Essentials

Feedback in a Flash!

Don't wait until the final project or exam. All it takes is one-minute to find out if your students are 'getting it.' Try these quick writing exercises to check for students' understanding at the beginning, middle and end of class.

Review Question at the Beginning of Class

Pose a review question on the board before class begins. As students wander in, ask them to answer the question on a piece of paper without including their names. Questions can be open-ended: What questions do you want to ask about this week's reading? Or specific: What are three reasons for ___________? When class begins allow a few more minutes for students to answer the question, then collect and review the answers, or ask students to share their answers in pairs.

Summarize After 15 Minutes of Lecture or Demo

Stop part way through your presentation and ask students to summarize your main points so far. If students are confused, ask them to write questions they need answered. Again, this should be anonymous. Collect the papers and quickly sift through them to confirm and clarify the important points for everyone.

Jump Start a Slow Discussion

If students are silent when you'd rather they participate, get them thinking through writing. Ask students to write about the discussion topic; then, have them share what they've written with a partner or volunteer to read aloud to the whole group. See the Think-Write-Pair-Share tip below.

Summarize at the End of Class

Ask two questions: What is the most significant thing you learned today? What question about the material is foremost in your mind that you would like answered next time we meet? Try taking roll by having students sign and turn in their responses. After class, review student comments, sort them by categories, and use them to structure a review for the next class session.

Feedback Online

Use or adapt these ideas for your online classes, as well. Explain to students that during the course you will post review or summary tasks (like those described above) in the announcement or discussion section. Let students know that you will require them to respond to these tasks during each module. As students respond individually, notice patterns of confusion or misunderstandings and address them in the discussion section of your course.


Launching discussions with think-write-pair-share

Learning Snapshots