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Strategy Bites: One minute paper

At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Strategy: One Minute Paper

Sometimes, students need time to digest new information. The One Minute Paper offers them the opportunity to reflect on what they’re learning.

Why use this strategy?

In my experience, attending a lecture usually involved showing up, listening and going home to independently study. I can’t remember a time where I was asked to reflect on the course content other than while writing a paper or an exam. I remember using clickers to demonstrate our comprehension of the material, however, through this, our voice was never heard. Are there more effective ways to incorporate more depth reflections of the content? Yes. An effective teaching strategy you may consider is the One Minute Paper. It’s a short, in-class—or online—writing activity that students do in response to an instructor prompt. While often used to assess learning at the end of a class, the strategy can also be an opportunity for instructional feedback, as well as student reflection on learning.

Give students a prompt. Allow them a minute or two to think about what they would like to write. Then give students a minute to write down their response. Their writing may be submitted anonymously or not, depending on what type of feedback you would like to provide after reading it. The writing can also be submitted electronically. It’s worth noting that it might not be necessary to provide feedback on everything students write. Part of the value is simply getting students to reflect. You can sample the submissions and decide what to comment on.

The versatility of the strategy actually allows for it to be used at the beginning, middle or end of a class. At the beginning, just before you start your lecture, you can ignite the thought process with a prompt such as: What comes to mind when I say the word _____. In the middle of the class, you might ask: What connections can you make between this new concept and the ideas we talked about last class? At the end of the class, you might ask: What was the most important concept of this lecture? or What concepts remain unclear at the end of this lecture? You might also pose questions that stimulate deeper thinking – Do you agree/disagree with this statement? Why? or What connections can you make with what was discussed in today’s class and other courses you are taking?

An outcome of this strategy that I appreciate the most is that it places importance on involvement and moving beyond that task of just having to show up for class. By asking each student to share with you their thoughts, you are giving them a louder voice in their learning experience and a greater drive to be fully present – in mind and body.

Would you like to know more?

Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:

How do you get students to reflect on their learning? To think about what they don’t know? Share your ideas!

Jasmine Parent is an M. Sc. graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGill University. She is currently enrolled in the M. Ed. Technology Program at the University of British Columbia and works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga, and spending time in nature.  

Featured Image photo credit: Victor Tangerman

Jasmine Parent is an M.Sc. Graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGill. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Education Technology Program at UBC and she works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at TLS. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga and spending time in nature.

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