Minute Paper/Muddiest Point (ALC)

Active Learning

This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on active learning activities that take place in Active Learning Classrooms (ALC). More Active Learning documents

Using a Minute Paper or Muddiest Point activity to check students' prior knowledge in an Active Learning Classroom (ALC).

Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time Low
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Low
Complexity of Activity Low


Minute Paper/Muddiest Point has students write a quick response to a question to help instructors gain insight or understanding of content. Questions could include: “What was the most important thing you learned today?“; “What important question remains unanswered?”; or “What was the muddiest point in _______ ?


Use it when you want...

  • To facilitate students’ recall of content they have learned,
  • To help them self-assess their understanding of the material,
  • To focus, collect, and organize their thoughts around a topic before a discussion, or
  • To discover which points students are having difficulty understanding to guide further instruction.

What students will need

  • Laptop, tablet, or mobile phone
  • Classroom with campus wireless connection


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Minute Paper/Muddiest Point active learning activity within an Active Learning Classroom (ALC).


  • Identify a concept in a lecture, article, video, or a gap in knowledge identified through a prior activity (e.g., quiz or online discussion).
  • Craft a question to which students will respond in class. The question should be difficult enough to elect careful thought or reflection, but not too difficult that the response would not fit on a half-sheet of paper. Try to answer the question yourself.
  • Decide when the activity will take place (beginning, middle, or end of the class).
  • Plan to set aside two to five minutes of class for the reflection and ten to twenty minutes for a table discussion of the results.
  • Determine how and if you want students to share their work. 
    • Students can keep their work to themselves — using the activity as a way for students to gather their thoughts before another activity.
    • Students can share their work with the instructor — using the activity as a way for the instructor to gain insight or measure student knowledge or progress.
    • Students can share their work with the instructor and the entire class — using the activity to foster a conversation or crowdsource questions or expose gaps in knowledge to one another. 
    • Students can share their work in small groups or at a table
  • Use Top Hat Discussion Question Type for students to share the results of their work online with the instructor and/or instructor and students.
  • Use Google Slides for groups to share the results of their work online with the instructor and other groups.


  • Introduce the activity by presenting the question to which students will respond.
  • Let students know how much time they have to complete the activity. Explain the kind of answers you want (words, phrases, or short sentences), how you will use the information, and when they can expect your feedback.
  • Give students time to reflect individually. Have students at each table take turns sharing one or two insights, questions, or areas of concern they wrote down. Have the group assign one person to be a scribe to record the result in their group's Google Slides.
  • After the activity is completed, ask a few tables to share the results of their conversations. Ask the rest of the room whether they had anything else to share that wasn't covered by the tables that reported out.


  • If collected, review the table reports.
  • Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting. 

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documents


Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 148-158.

See Also:

Keywords:minute paper, prior knowledge, active learning classroom   Doc ID:118484
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2022-05-10 15:05 CDTUpdated:2022-10-28 10:19 CDT
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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