Active Learning Strategy: The One-Minute Paper

As teachers, gauging our students' comprehension of class content can be challenging. Sadly, low scores on the first exam often serve as the wake-up call that class understanding is not where it should be. It would be much less stressful to be aware of class knowledge deficits from day one by an on-going (formative) assessment of student learning. Such a system would also create a more efficient teaching-learning environment. Specialties Educators Article

Active Learning Strategy: The One-Minute Paper

The one-minute paper (or "Muddiest Point") is a simple, effective technique for checking student understanding and reaction to the course material. Its purpose is to identify and clarify points of confusion. This exercise is a brief, in-class writing activity that can be done anytime during the class period.

The instructor poses an open-ended question causing participants to reflect on the module, assigned reading, or lecture material. The students are given one minute to respond and then their feedback is turned in. Ideally, this exercise should take no more than three minutes out of the class period to complete. The responses should be recorded anonymously and can be submitted on notebook paper, 3" by 5" note cards, or electronically (such as a class Internet discussion board). The nurse educator should address the student feedback by bringing clarification or further direction at the earliest opportunity possible.

I use a "Muddiest Point" electronic discussion board in my very large classroom:

This forum is designed for questions regarding course content. Anything that is unclear from the readings, lecture, or your notes can be sorted out here. Any questions regarding exams can also be addressed in this format. This allows the advantage of sharing your questions within our community--your question will likely help out a student colleague!

The educator might start the class with the question, "What one item was not clear in the assigned readings on cardiac dysrhythmias today?" Midway through the lecture, the instructor could ask, "We just discussed fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Write for one minute about the electrolyte imbalance you consider to be the most serious and why." Or, the teacher might end the class period with one of the following exercises: "What was the most confusing concept discussed in class today?" "What were the most important points of this lecture?" "What one thing is most significant to your personal learning?" "Which question or questions do you still have?"

Composing one-minute papers seals the content in students' minds, pinpoints where learners are with understanding the key concepts, helps develop critical thinking skills, and gives the instructor valuable feedback about the effectiveness of his or her teaching. Often, students are not interpreting the content material in the way the educator intended. If most of the class are missing the main points, then the teaching style needs to be examined and revised. The instructor should change how he or she is presenting the content.

This one-minute paper exercise is brilliant in its simplicity because it is quick, requires no preparation or technology, but renders immediate feedback on how well the class is doing.

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Specializes in Wilderness Medicine, ICU, Adult Ed..

Thank you, Vicky. I will use this.

You can find more ideas along this line at

Specializes in OR, Informatics.

Thanks for the interesting post. We just did this exercise in my Health Alt. class on Monday. I enjoyed it, and I thought that it crystallized, for me, what we had just heard in lecture.

Specializes in Med-Surg.

This sounds really interesting. Could this be used in clinical post conference? Any ideas of topics/ questions to pose?

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds.
This sounds really interesting. Could this be used in clinical post conference? Any ideas of topics/ questions to pose?

Yes, the beauty of the one-minute paper is its simplicity, low level of technical requirement, and adaptability to multiple educational environments!

Some possible "Minute Paper" topics for post-conference:

Out of all the patient care tasks you performed today, which is the most important and why?

What one thing did you do well on the floor today and why?

In what one area do you feel the most challenged and why?

Name one high-priority nursing diagnosis for your patient. Name three priority nursing interventions to go along with your nursing diagnosis.

Write down your patient's medical diagnosis and explain in your own words. Relate to three of your patient's symptoms.

Which clinical paperwork assignment presents the greatest challenge to you and why?

Which aspect of documentation/ computer charting are you having the most difficulty performing and why?

Hope this helps :)