What is it?

The one-minute paper is a instructional strategy that uses a short writing task to assess learner understanding of course material. It is usually assigned with an open-ended question(s) in the last 5 – 10 minutes of class.

Because it is intended as a formative strategy, this technique can serve as a quick way for an instructor to gage class comprehension as well as provide learners with the means to self-assess their own understanding.

Purpose: The goal is to quickly gain student feedback on what they understood to be the main points of the lesson or what they are still struggling ...

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The one-minute paper is a instructional strategy that uses a short writing task to assess learner understanding of course material. It is usually assigned with an open-ended question(s) in the last 5 – 10 minutes of class.

Because it is intended as a formative strategy, this technique can serve as a quick way for an instructor to gage class comprehension as well as provide learners with the means to self-assess their own understanding.

Purpose: The goal is to quickly gain student feedback on what they understood to be the main points of the lesson or what they are still struggling to understand. The one-minute paper can also be conducted at the beginning of a class to assess prior knowledge on a new topic, or to determine what students have retained from the previous lesson.

Note: Usually the one-minute paper is conducted at the end of a class, however held at the beginning it can be used to assess prior knowledge or what students have retained from a previous lesson.

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When to use it?

Context & Requirements

Level
All Levels
Discipline
All disciplines
Class size
All class sizes
Classroom settings
No specific classroom setting required
Technological requirements
No specific technological requirements (can be achieved with pencil and paper)

Skills Promoted

  • Knowledge integration
  • Critical reasoning
  • Metacognition
  • Self-regulation

Who’s using it?

SALTISE community members who use this strategy and are willing to share advice and/or resources.

Level University
Institution McGill University
Discipline Mining Engineering
Instructor Marta Cerruti
Class size All sizes
Classroom setting Active or Traditional Classroom
Resources used View More

Why use it?

The one minute paper allows students to introspectively reflect on their development. It can provide a platform for students to make anonymous comments and give a teacher a jumping off point on the learning material and the competency development. If structured accordingly, the one minute paper allows students to learn from each others best practices.

Sometimes students do not produce any useful content and if used incorrectly, can be a gateway to students complaining about course material.

Ready to try it out?

STEP 1: Instructor asks students to write a brief reflection reflecting their understanding of a lesson or activity (mini-lecture, video viewing, problem solving activity, lab, etc.). Time limit is provided (e.g., 1 min or more).

STEP 2: Individually, students provide a written response(s)/reflection(s). Reflection(s) can address issues such as:

  • What is the most important thing you have learned during this class?
  • What important question(s) still remains unanswered?

STEP 3: Instructor collects written reflections (immediately or after class) and uses them to determine the lesson plan in regards to, for example:

  • What concepts or topics need further review or explanation;
  • What activities or materials can be used next.
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Helpful resources

References

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

Drabick, D. A. G., Weisberg, R. and Paul, L. (2007). Keeping it short and sweet: Brief, ungraded writing assignments facilitate learning. Teaching of Psychology..

Choinski, E. and Emanuel, M. (2006). The one-minute paper and the one-hour class: Outcomes assessment for one-shot library instruction. Reference Services Review, Emerald Insight..

Anderson, D. and Burns, S. (2013). One-minute paper: Student perception of learning gains. College Student Journal, ERIC Institute of Education Sciences..

Panitz, T. and Panitz, P. (1999). Assessing students and yourself using the one minute paper and observing students working cooperatively. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences..

Video

One Minute Paper – Created for PID (Provincial Instructor Diploma), VCC (Vancouver Community College)

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For more resources to Articles and Books