The Minute Paper: where you've been and where you're going

The Minute Paper is a flexible technique designed to get students to reflect and think critically about their learning, while giving teachers an easy way to assess how their students perceive their experience in class. It was first formulated, at least in a published form, by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross in their 1993 book, Classroom Assessment Techniques. It’s simple: ask students to briefly reflect on a learning experience and ask them to respond, in writing, to the following two questions: “What was the most important thing you learned?” and “What question or questions remain unanswered?”.

Angelo and Cross suggest using this technique in the last five minutes of class, to get students to reflect on that day’s content. This works to help solidify the day’s discussion in the students’ minds, but also allows the teacher, after collecting the papers, to see how the students experienced the class and what they still might not get.

Donna Killian Duffy and Janet Wright Jones suggest that the Minute Paper could be used in any number of situations: at the beginning of class to review a homework assignment, or the previous class’s discussion; in the middle of class to reinforce what’s come before and point the way forward; or at any time to gauge students’ learning experiences that took place outside of the classroom (in previous courses, for instance).

It’s an easy way to focus students and teacher alike on the ground that has been covered and the distance left to run.  -DG

Sources: Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques : A Handbook for College Teachers (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993. 148-53. Donna Killian Duffy and Janet Wright Jones. Teaching Within the Rhythms of the Semester. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. 147-48.