"What have we learned today?"

One-minute paper

One-minute paper is a teaching technique that can be easily used in the classroom. Basically, it is a short assignment which students can accomplish very quickly. It is a simple but powerful learning tool to obtain feedback both for students and lecturers. This tip introduces the original form and possible variations of the one-minute paper. Explanations are also given regarding its benefits and issues to pay attention when using it.

Originally the one-minute paper is an assignment that a lecturer asks students to do at the end of a lecture. Students are given one or a few minutes to formulate a short (written) answers to two questions:

1. What is the most important insight / idea / ... that you learnt from today's lecture?

2. What question(s) do you still have?

Then the lecturer collects the answers and use them to prepare the next lecture.

There are a number of advantages associated with this technique. The first question allows students to reflect on the lecture and what they have learnt. The second question compels students to engage in self-evaluation: what they know already and what is still unclear? It is an anonymous and easily accessible way for students to ask questions. In addition, the answers provided by students also provide feedback to the lecturer. It is a diagnosis of what students have already mastered and where the lecturer shall still put emphasis in the next lecture. As a result, this technique enables lecturer to make relevant and necessary adjustments in time.

Variation in terms of assignment purposes

There are several variations of this one-minute paper teaching technique. In addition to the original format, the questions can vary depending on what the lecturer wants to check/achieve. Some examples:

- What was the most difficult point of the lecture?

- What was the most surprising thing you captured from the lecture today?

- Write down the three main concepts of the lecture.

- Summarize ...

- Give an example of ...

- Explain in your own words: ...

- Respond to the following assertion: ...

- ...

Note: the original questions are less directive and focus more on self-reflection. The varied questions steer more towards achieving a particular learning outcome or understanding a defined (by lecturer) piece of learning content.


Variation in terms of timing

It is not always necessary to put this assignment always at the end of a lecture. More variation can also be applied: The one-minute paper can be integrated at different times of the lecture/course. This opens further possibilities to organize other teaching/learning activities along with it:

- organize one-minute paper at the beginning of the class, followed by a plenary session in which students share their answers with each other, use the discussion to start the lecture

- Connect a vote with the one-minute paper (e.g. click system or moodle voting) to evaluate the overall response trend

- ...

Variation in terms of feedback / monitoring responses

Lecturers can decide what to do with students’ written replies. Some possibilities:

- can use this as a general diagnosis to improve your lectures

- can use the answers / responds to plan the next lecture(s)

- can respond to questions in an online discussion forum or provide additional information to some students (e.g. a short instructional video)

- can be inspired by the responses to draft exam or assignments

- ...

Issues to pay attention when using One-minute paper technique:

- It is important to vary, which means that the one-minute paper works best when it is vary in timing and the concrete tasks.

- Give students sufficient time to carry out the task. The term "one-minute" paper is possibly somewhat misleading. Adjust the assignment duration according to the difficulty level of the task requirement.

- It is not always possible to respond to every demand of students. There is often not enough time. Possible ways to handle this could be: answer a sampling of the questions, answer frequently asked questions, establish a Frequently Asked Questions forum of the one-minute paper and encouraging students to feedback and interact with each other ...

Read more:

Stead, D. R. (2005). A review of the one-minute paper. Active learning in higher education, 6 (2), 118-131. 

Original resource (in Dutch):



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