How can I use the minute paper?

How does it align with the module Learning Outcomes? Does it assess skills and knowledge that are key to the discipline?

It can be used with any module and any discipline, although Almer et al (1998) found that students who regularly completed minute papers in accounting improved their test scores (a mean gain of 0.93 points on a 10 point scale). However, this was for more subjective exam questions. There was no significant difference when objective MCQs were used.


Will it be formative or summative? If summative, how will I give opportunities for practice? When will it occur in the term/module?

It can be used at any time in the module, but to avoid students seeing it as another survey/feedback seeking exercise from the university, it is not really appropriate for an end of module or mid-term only. Ideally, it should be used two or three times during a module so students gain the maximum benefit without becoming disengaged.

It should not really be used for summative assessment, as its purposes are for formative iterative feedback and diagnosis. Although it can form part of a portfolio or student self-assessment tool such as a reflective learning journal.


How will I mark it? Will I grade it? What criteria will I use? How will I give feedback?

It is more of a self-assessment tool for students so does not have to be marked or graded.  In fact, grading is likely to discourage students from being honest about things they did not understand.  If you think students will not engage with it, consider doing it in class, or if it must be done online, you could weight its completion as a small percentage of the module grade.

Feedback in the form of a discussion of holistic comments (generic feedback) about misunderstandings can be given in class at the beginning of the next lecture.

Alternatively, you could summarise some of the key questions or problems and some clarifications on a slide or document on KEATS.


 How will I address potential challenges?

 Do I need to make any modifications for accessibility/inclusivity? Can I build these into the design?

The usual modifications should be considered for visually impaired students, such as larger print and screen reader software. Anonymity will help to mitigate anxiety.

The minute paper can quickly identify ‘at risk’ students and those who are struggling with the course.


Do I need to make any modifications for large cohort sizes? Will it be time consuming to set up or mark? Is there anything I can do to modify it to address this?

Angelo and Cross (1993) claim that teachers can read 4 minute papers per minute!  Like the Critical Incident Questionnaire, it requires some time to examine after class, but can offset time spent in tutorials with students who have questions. Light and Cox (2001) suggest analysing only a sample of the papers in very large classes.

If you have no time at all to look at the minute papers, in seminars or at the beginning of a lecture, you could also divide the students into groups and have them share their minute papers. One group leader completes a summary of the group’s key questions or understandings of the lecture to email to you. This is also a form of peer instruction, but begins with the element of individual thought so should reduce anxiety for those who are uncomfortable with group work.


How will I introduce it to the students?

Describe how you will operationalise the minute paper (online or paper) and, crucially, how you will respond to it. If you emphasise this as a key element of the module, and relate it to the Learning Outcomes, students are more likely to be engaged with it. You could emphasise the increased test scores in studies such as Almer et al (1998).

Students might just pull out or copy bullet points from the lecture slides, only engaging on a surface level. To deter this, students should be encouraged to write in full sentences and given a task such as asking a question or asking what for them was the most important part of the lecture.