Student-generated questions

Lone student thinking hard in an alcove

What is it?

After studying independently, students are ask to generate questions about the material. This can also happen after live teaching, when it is sometimes called a ‘Minute paper’ or ‘Exit ticket’.

Why do it?

Asking students to generate questions is a powerful stimulus for learning. It requires students to dedicate some time to reviewing what they know about a subject and identifying gaps.

How is it set up?

First you come up with a question prompt, which might be:

  • “After studying [resource], what outstanding or new questions do you have?”
  • “What was least clear in [resource or lecture]?”

To collect individual responses you could use a single-question KEATS Questionnaire or Microsoft Form.

However an alternative is to let students see and react to each other’s questions. Generating questions and posting them semi-publicly in this way has the following potential:

  • It gives students extra feedback since they can compare their questions to others’.
  • This in turn can vindicate their worries about their own question (see ‘Considerations’ below).
  • Anonymity lowers the stakes of the exercise and is useful in drawing out the less confident students (see ‘Considerations’ below).
  • For educators, students carry out some of the analysis for you when they upvote others’ questions which they also have (again, see ‘Considerations’ below).
  • You can turn on comments, and students may delight you by assisting or otherwise supporting each other.

Two King’s-supported technologies you can use are:

  • Padlet – a digital flipchart which allows students to post in a range of formats, with optional anonymity, and upvote others’ posts. For unlimited pads and responses, sign in with the Microsoft link and your ID.
  • PollEverywhere (Q&A question type) – a response system with advantages for larger cohorts, since the submissions can be filtered to display the most upvoted questions at the top. For unlimited polls and responses, first set up an account with your King’s email, then send a request to King’s IT for an upgrade.


  • It’s important that everybody behaves respectfully towards questions which are not upvoted – whether because they are unsettlingly divergent or revealing an elementary misunderstanding. This is worth stating explicitly early on.
  • Anonymity is especially useful at first where trust has not yet been established. With a conducive culture (i.e. respecting all questions) it may be able to be lifted.
  • Polleverywhere works better than Padlet in large groups, since you can filter posts by recency or upvotes. With larger groups, to focus and avoid many duplicate questions, you may wish to ask a proportion of students to post while the rest read and upvote without posting, and then swap so the latter section has a chance to add any further questions nobody has posted yet. Let students know they can filter PollEverywhere to see newly posted questions at the top.

Examples and resources

  • A Padlet example from the March 2020 King’s Academy Lightning Lunch.
  • Minute paper‘ guidance on Assessment for Learning at King’s.
  • King’s guidance on Padlet.
  • King’s guidance on PollEverywhere.

Image source: ‘Full focus at a coffee shop‘ by Tim Gouw on Unsplash.

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